Kitchen Basics

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper, always.
The after-math of cooking bacon on baking sheets. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper, always.

After seeing memes of Gordon Ramsay going bonkers over someone using the cookie sheet to cook a pizza in Hell’s Kitchen, I’d figure I’d join in the fun a bit. There are some kitchen basics you ought to know: do not use sharp objects on non-stick surfaces. Hell’s got no more fury than a baker’s pans abused. There are days I wanted to cry because I burnt sweet potato chips right onto the pan; washing them afterwards was no fun.

Other basics? I assign a meat cutting board, so that raw meats and vegetables don’t cross-contaminate. This was one of the first things my mother taught me when I was old enough to help her chop garlic and the like.

Hone your skills!
However, I’m guilty of not sharpening my knives at least once a year. Last weekend, I was part of a Yelp Shop on Whyte event. The Knifewear staff was kind enough to show us how to sharpen a knife with the steel rod (hone). They were saying that with Japanese knives (those that retail well over $150 per knife — up to $1,000) would need to be angled at less than 15 degrees. With Western knives (like Henkel), the angle is around 25 degrees. Each time when we use our knives, the blade gets dulled as it hits the chopping board.

The video that is closest to what the Knifewear staff member showed me would be this:

I’m no knife expert yet, but I’ve come to learn how to hold the knife properly the hard way. I’ve sliced myself more than a few occasions to know the value of knife safety. Never point it towards yourself. Hold the blade perpendicular to what you are chopping; guard your guiding hand so that your fingers are safe. (I actually had to watch this video from NAIT.)
When using a mandolin, ALWAYS use the guard. Do not ignore the warning on the manual. The cut isn’t fun; even though I was using a considerably blunt mandolin, I had a pretty deep cut that took weeks to heal. (That incident happened last year in 2013) If you can, reach out to your local community centre and check out classes for knifing skills. They will make cooking much more enjoyable (and safe).

If any of your recipes call for meringue (egg-whites), use vinegar to clean the surfaces of your bowl/utensils; etc. Also, use a non-plastic bowl for meringue.

P.S. I made some puff pastry yesterday, which I’m excited to show you this upcoming week. (You can see what they are on Instagram) Thank you so much for your patience as I’m in the middle of moving my blog to a new host!

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