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Knife Skills 101

Knife skills 101

Using a chef's knife is one of the most important parts of the culinary arts. Here's a collection of articles, tutorials and how-tos will help you practice your knife skills.

More About Chef's Knives:
Culinary Arts Spotlight10

How to Roast a Leg of Lamb

Thursday April 17, 2014
Roast leg of lamb is a classic holiday dish, and you can get a 6-8 pound semi-boneless one that will feed anywhere from 8 to 12 people.
How to Roast a Leg of Lamb
How to Roast a Leg of Lamb.
Photo © Ben Fink / Getty Images

Semi-boneless means that it's had the hip and tail bone (which is also sometimes called the H-bone) removed, as well as the hinged end of the shank bone. These bones are great for making stock, so your best bet is to have the butcher do this for you from a whole leg of lamb so that you can take the bones home with you.

Here's an article that describes How to Roast a Leg of Lamb. Also check out this Roast Leg of Lamb Recipe. Finally, here are a few related resources: Connect with Me: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

How to Cook Asparagus

Friday April 11, 2014
Asparagus is in peak season right now, and every time I eat it I'm reminded of a book I had to read for homework many years ago. Or more specifically, about 30 minutes after I eat asparagus.
How to Cook Asparagus
How to cook asparagus.
Photo © Danilo Alfaro

In the book, the narrator describes how eating asparagus "transforms my chamberpot into a flask of perfume."

Interestingly, only about 40 percent of the population know what he's talking about — at least firsthand. But briefly, a sulfur-based compound in asparagus (which is related to the substance in asparagus' cousin, the onion, that makes your eyes water when you slice it) causes your pee to smell like — well, like a flask of perfume.

And since no more than about 40 percent of people notice the effect themselves, it was originally thought that asparagus only reacted this way in certain people's bodies. But it turns out that asparagus turns everyone who eats it into a perfume factory. The difference is that only 40 percent of the population are capable of smelling it.

Asparagus is one of the most versatile and flavorful veggies, and it's definitely one of my favorites. Not everyone feels the same, though, and I don't know if it's because of the pee thing, which to me is certainly remarkable, but not necessarily unpleasant. Instead, I suspect it's because asparagus is so often overcooked. Boiling it too long is the biggest culprit here.

Not that boiling isn't a good way to cook asparagus; you just have to be careful. Still, possibly my favorite way of cooking asparagus is to grill it. Roasting is also a great technique, and so is sautéeing. So check out How to Cook Asparagus. Maybe you're one of the lucky 40 percent. And here are a few more asparagus recipes: Connect with Me: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Chocolate Mousse

Friday April 4, 2014
Chocolate mousse should be rich and creamy, like pudding, but also light and airy. It should almost want to float off your spoon. The way to achieve both qualities is by using egg yolks, butter and cream for the rich and creamy, and beaten egg whites to make it light and airy.
chocolate mousse
Chocolate mousse.

And of course, you should use the best quality chocolate you can afford. You'll really taste the difference, and it'll be worth every cent.

There are a number of tricks to help make sure your egg whites whip up properly. For instance, your egg whites shouldn't be too cold. A pinch of cream of tartar will also help. (Cream of tartar is a great thing to have around, and you can use it to make your own baking powder.)

Here's a simple chocolate mousse recipe. And here's some more about chocolate and eggs: Connect with Me: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Cheese Quiche Recipe

Wednesday March 26, 2014
If you want to make a quiche, the simplest type is a basic cheese quiche, which is traditionally made with Gruyère cheese and flavored with seasonings like nutmeg and cayenne pepper.
Easy Quiche Recipe

The custard itself is a standard egg and cream custard that's baked in a pastry crust made of tart dough. Tart dough is slightly different from pie dough because with tart dough, we want the blobs of butter to be about the size of corn meal so that the bottom doesn't get soggy while you bake the custard.

Beyond the basic cheese quiche, I like a simple quiche with maybe one or two additional ingredients. Mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and onions are nice ingredients to feature in a quiche. And of course the classic Quiche Lorraine is made with bacon (traditionally) or sometimes ham.

Here's an easy cheese quiche recipe. And here's more about baking and custard: Connect with Me: Google+ | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

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