Sunday, April 15, 2012

Some How To Tips

A couple of years ago, I received some cooking classes as a Christmas present, and I couldn't have been more excited.  As a self-taught kitchen ninja, I was chomping at the bit to learn some new tricks.  Especially knife skills. Years spent watching Top Chef has had me yearning to unlock the secrets of butchering delicious cuts of meat or filleting a swordfish or making a rose out of a radish.

So, when I arrived for my Evening in Tuscany Dinner, I was rearing to go!

Here is what I learned:

1) I don't play well with others in the kitchen. 
2) I have little patience for a lackadaisical tempo when food is involved.
3) I know a whole heck of a lot more than I thought.

So, filled to the brim with arrogance...I mean...confidence, I offer a couple of "How To" pieces of advice.


Place the fuzzy root side down on your cutting board.  With a sharp knife, slice onion in half.  Hold on to said fuzzy end and slice off opposite side.  Peel back outer layer.  Now you have a something to hold on to. Make several slices in the direction toward the root but careful not to cut all the way.  This will keep it intact.  Steady the onion with the palm of our hand and make two to three horizontal slices through the onion creating a crosshatch pattern.  Holding on to the handle you have created, slice through the onion for a perfect chop!


Mangoes have a large, almond shaped stone.  Place mango on its side so that the stone does not lay flat.  With a sharp knife, slice through the mango as close to the stone as possible.  With a paring knife, score the mango vertically and then horizontally, careful not to slice all the way through.  Invert the mango half so it looks like a nubby orange porcupine.  Slice out flesh with a sharp knife.  Woohoo!


Using a sharp knife, slice the avocado right through the center maneuvering around the pit. Separate into two halves.  Carefully whack the pit with the knife and pop it right out.  Starting at the edge, use a spoon and work around the avocado freeing the deliciousness from the skin.  You did it!

Now let's put those chopping skills to work!

"Confetti" Salad

This bright and satisfying salad is perfect for a summertime side dish or a light lunch. If corn is in season, by all means use fresh, but frozen works just as well in this recipe.

2 cups black beans, cooked
2 cups corn
1 mango, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, zest and juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin
healthy drizzle of olive oil
salt 'n pepper to taste.

There really is no cooking involved, just assembly.  Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl.  Dress with lime juice, zest, vinegar, and olive oil.  Season with cumin, salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes.  Blam!

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