3/10/10

My Knife Skills Class for 5 DC Food Bloggers (and friends)

Last month, or maybe two months ago, Tammy from Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC posted a question on Twitter to see if anyone could recommend a knife skills class. I jumped in and offered my services (so to speak).

You see, I've assisted a knife skill class at Sur La Table, and have been a witness to numerous knife skills mini lessons by Robyn Webb. I was ready to teach! Adventures in Shaw jumped in and offered her beautiful kitchen as our classroom. Soon, we had Brian from Urban Bohemian, Alejandra from One Bite at a Time and Thrifty DC Cook on hand. I had my lesson plan in mind, my knife sharpened and my cutting board ready to go. What we did not expect was the insane amount of snow! We had to cancel the class. I was sad, to say the least.

Not to worry! Last Saturday we finally gathered for the knife skills lesson. (After reading my post, I really hope you will check out reviews from Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC, Adventures in Shaw, Urban Bohemian, and One Bite at a Time. Also, huge THANK YOU to Adventures in Shaw for all the photos you see here (we took the photo class together, and it has obviously paid off) and to Brian for the videos from the class.

On the "menu" for the class we had onions, garlic, oranges, peppers and potatoes.


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The students (pictured below are Thrifty DC Cook, Alejandra and Tammy) were eager to learn! We also had two great snacks from Thrifty DC Cook.

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And here's me: the teacher! I'm wearing an awesome apron I received from the POM Wonderful people. I hope no one is a prude who is reading this: we all found it hilarious!

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The first lesson was how to segment an orange. It's a great skill to have for making a fruit salad, adding citrus to Greek yogurt, or simply to show off to your friends.


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After segmenting the oranges, we happily ate our fruits of labor.

Next up: how to cut an onion. I demonstrated two different ways, and everyone preferred the 2nd option.

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All of my hard-working students were shocked when there weren't any tears after all the onions we've chopped. The efficient way of cutting an onion reduces the amount of juices released, and makes you cry less! A win/win situation.

Next up: potatoes!


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After dicing and slicing the potatoes (which Adventures in Shaw collected, as she did all the other vegetables), I showed a fun rolling technique for the carrots. This technique makes three-dimensional triangular shapes, and is great if you want to roast the carrots. I also demonstrated dicing, slicing, etc.

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Then there was time for the garlic. For the love of fresh flavor, please don't buy jarred chopped garlic! It's just not the same. And in all honesty, it doesn't take more than a minute to chop the garlic yourself. After the chopping, I used some Kosher salt and demonstrated how to make a paste from the garlic. If you are looking for a short-cut (and why not!?), just use a microplane, which will also do wonders with ginger.

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After garlic, I demonstrated a quick way to chop parsley. You gather up all the parsley like a bouquet, then chop off the stems and roll the remaining thinner stems with leaves into a tight ball. You then cut through the leaves, turn the pile 90 degrees and cut again. Repeat till you get the size of parsley that you need.

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And for the final lesson, I demonstrated two ways to "open up" a pepper. The first way is by cutting away the sides of the pepper in between the "membranes." That leaves you with the core and the membranes.

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I also pointed out that it's best to slice a pepper on a diagonal, and that you should never cut a pepper shiny side up: it dulls your knife and can cause accidents if a knife slips.

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The second technique of opening up a pepper was the most popular part of the class. Just check out this video!


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I'm happy to report no fingers were cut in the class! Everyone was patient, eager to learn, and picked up my instructions well. I think all five of my students are on their way to being more efficient and safe cooks!

If you live in DC/VA/MD area and want to take a class from me, please contact me.

21 comments:

BlueToYou said...

olga the fabulous teacher! you know that's how Julia Child got her start....and for the record, I think the apron is HILARIOUS!

T said...

I love the pictures, video & instructions! This is great and very informative! Thanks so much :)

-Trish

Jo said...

I love this Olga! Great stuff!

Jenna said...

That looks like a great class! I think you should do it again - that one on one attention is invaluable. And lovely cuts (jealous of how perfect your potatoes are).

-Jenna

Paz said...

Very nice. Glad you all had a nice, instructive and educational time.

Love the apron. ;-)

Paz

POM Blogger said...

The apron looks great on you, glad you're using and enjoying! :)

Andrea@POM

Joie de vivre said...

Good tips! That apron is HILARIOUS!!!

Junglefrog said...

Oo, I love your apron! That is just hilarious... :)
Looks like a great class too Olga!

Shaw Girl said...

Thank you again for teaching the class! I used my new skills tonight while chopping up onions and garlic for a risotto! Thanks to you, my prep work was a snap!

Leslie said...

Oh GOD..love the apron!!!!

urban bohemian said...

It was such a great time. I'm looking forward to these skills making sangria and salsa when it gets a bit warmer out.

Now I wonder how I can get a POM apron like that! ;)

Esi said...

I would totally take this class! and I freaking LOOOOOVE that apron!

Tupper Cooks! said...

I gotta say the content of your post was wonderful-but the apron is killing me! I'm a guy who works with a lot of women and I've gotta share this-it's beautiful.

Sweetsonian said...

This is awesome! Any tips on finding more DC cooking lessons like this?

Lo said...

That apron rocks. Of course, so do your mad knife skillz. :) I could totally use a knife skills class. Sure, I can chop things up (fairly well, I would add); but, I KNOW I'm doing everything quite improperly.

Sophie said...

What a grand & cute apron! hahahha,...

thanks for the lessons!! What a grand idea!

@floridagirlindc said...

Thanks again Olga for such a fun and informative class! I'm now reading a book called The Sharper the Knife, The Less You Cry about one girl's experience at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris... it's TOTALLY got the knife trick and the students have the same Ah-ha! moment we did! Love it!

Patty said...

These are great cooking tips that everyone should know, you're a good teacher! Keep it up!

Cindy said...

Gotta love the apron, cool!

Lara said...

Great knife skills ninja. I love how one of those photos makes it look like you have four hands - two for the boobs two for the cooking.

A Canadian Foodie said...

When I saw you in the apron - you had my vote!!!!
:)
Valerie
The rest was fantastic - but it was all about the apron!
:)
Valerie