Knife skills for healthy cooking

Chef Heather ready to cook!

I’ve been focused on evaluating and improving my eating habits the past few weeks. I slacked a bit after my knee revision surgery. So as I’ve been able to be more physically active as I recover, I also am changing my eating. This means eating more often at home, which means I should cook a bit more often too.

I cook more often in the fall and winter months. Do you? I’m on the go, being outside or doing things more often with friends, during the warmer months. My friends and I still often have dinner/drinks together in the winter, but we tend to host at each other’s homes. I admittedly am not a lover of cooking. I like food, but I more often find it’s a necessary effort for my body (my foodie friends shake their heads at this, but they accept I’ll try foods with them!). I always think if I maybe learn more about cooking, I’ll develop more interest in food. Hey, it sounds like rational thinking. Haha.

With that thought, it was good timing that my friend shared information on a class at the local Sur La Table location that interested her. It was knife skills 101. I know nothing about knives, except they’re needed to cut and prepare my food. I admit I’ve always been a bit hesitant to use a knife with a long blade. Mostly because it feels awkward in my hand and I get nervous about cutting myself.

We decided to sign up for the two-hour hands on class. When we arrived, we were warmly welcomed by several staff members. The kitchen/cooking class room is large, airy and equipped with all one would need to prepare a great meal. Our spots were each labeled with our name, and included an apron, chef’s knife, cutting board and other items to help us throughout the class. The instructor/chef was a welcoming man, and ensured we introduced ourselves to others in the class. There were 16 of us in the class (based on the space, I think this may be the maximum in a class). Everyone was friendly and helpful to others.

Healthy ingredients

The chef went over a variety of knife types and styles, from the chef’s knife to boning knife to serrated knife. He demonstrated the differences and provided examples of what one might use each knife for in preparation and wherever else. The first thing we learned was the proper way to hold a chef’s knife, not just at the handle. You grasp the blade between your thumb pad and the knuckle of your index finger, almost forming a perpendicular hold, and curl your other fingers around the bottom of the blade. This hold gave me a more secure and comfortable grasp on the knife.

We learned a lot about safety, including the best ways to carry a knife, cut (always away from you), securing the cutting board and keeping your eyes on the knife when cutting. If someone or something distracts you, stop moving the knife before looking away. Sharper knives are actually safer, as a dull knife takes more force to slice so may slip and cause an injury.

During class, we practiced cutting quite a few items to prepare some dishes. Among the items were carrots, celery, tomatoes, cauliflower and others. It was good to practice cutting, slicing and dicing on a variety of items with varying skins, sizes and shapes. We minced garlic, roasted red peppers and squeezed lemons. Our instructor was always available to answer questions, demonstrate techniques and assist where needed.

A delicious outcome of hard work!

By the end of the class session, we had prepped ingredients for a delicious avocado green goddess dip and red pepper and tomato soup (our chef had done a bit of the prep for the soup so it could be completed in time for us to enjoy). Then we pulled out chairs, dished up helpings of our food and enjoyed our hard work. We did great work – the food was awesome!

I definitely learned some helpful skills in this class. I have more confidence with using a knife in the kitchen, although I’ll still go pretty slow and steady because I like my fingers.

Have you taken a cooking class? Did you like it?

 

*This review/opinions are my own, and shared to give insight into a learning opportunity that I enjoyed. 🙂

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