Day One and How to Cut Vegetables

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From October, 2009

Today I learned how to cut vegetables! No, really!! Today’s focus in class was on technique. In cooking, it’s incredibly important to make sure that you are absolutely precise in every detail that goes into the food that you make. For example, if you don’t have your vegetables cut exactly the same size, there’s no way to insure that they will all cook at the same rate! Today we learned: Paysanne (cut the vegetables into thin, even pieces determined by the shape of the vegetable), Julienne (cut into thin strips 4cm in length), Brunoise (cut the vegetables into blocks, 2mmx2mmx2mm), Jardinière (batons-18mmx3mmx3mm), Macédoine (larger blocks 1/2cm dice), Oignons hachés at émincés (that’s right! Chopped and minced onions), Fines herbes (very finely chopped herbs) Chiffonade (this one you have probably come across before), Mirepoix (a combination of slightly larger, even and precise cuts of onions, carrots, and celery, all the exact same size), and last but not least: Segmenting Citrus Fruit! (Long story short, the white stuff gets thrown! I’ve been segmenting about three oranges a day at work, so this one was most definitely not a surprise.) We also learned to do a traditional bouquet garnis, which consists of one bay leaf, a small amount of thyme, and a thin baton of celery wrapped in leek. I’ve worked with about a million bouquet garnis in my life, and this was the first time I’ve ever seen the traditional one! I’ve had some experience before, so I was able to finish on time and present my cuts to the chef for criticism. We are evaluated and assessed every class. I’m pretty proud of myself! I definitely have a lot of work to do, but the majority of my criticism revolved around being within one millimeter of the correct size. I was insanely nervous and my hands were shaking, but l think that I might be able to do this! I can’t wait to see what I learn on day two!

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