Cuts like a knife

Nice mealAfter completing my essential knife skills class at The New School of Cooking, my dream of mastering culinary knife techniques in a single afternoon was sliced, diced, chopped and turned into julienne fries.

I naively went into the class thinking I could learn a secret culinary knife trick that would jump start my ability to use a chef’s knife. The class was more of an introduction to essential knife skills.

It was a good class for a beginner like myself, but many in the class were clearly looking for a higher level of training.

The first hour of the three-hour class was a lecture on the types of knives and a discussion on cutting techniques. The second part of the class I sliced, diced, chopped, chiffonaded and julienned vegetables with a chef’s knife. I even was able to supreme an orange.

At the end, I shared a meal made from the fruits and vegetable used in the class with my fellow chefs in training. We had a surprisingly good meal consisting of kale salad, potato gratin and brussels sprouts with a salsa verde.

Lessons learned:

– Always use the claw when using a knife in the kitchen.

– There is no shortcut to mastering the knife. Practice, Practice, Practice is the only way to get better.

– The chef’s knife and the paring knife are the only essential knives needed in the kitchen. The other knives can be helpful, but not required.

– Cutting up fresh herbs is extremely easy and makes your food taste much better.

– For best control of a chef’s knife, use the pinch grip.

– If prepared properly, a kale salad can taste really good.

– Always hold a chef’s knife before you buy it. You need to find a knife that feels good in your hand.

Cooking the ultimate chocolate cake for Valentine’s Day

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

I found an amazing recipe for the “Ultimate Chocolate Cake” from Martha Stewart and decided to put a Valentine’s Day twist to it for my wife by making a triple-decker, heart-shaped chocolate cake.

Keep in mind, the only cake I have ever made in the past came straight from a box. I also had to figure out how to stack and frost three layers of cake.

I used a heart shaped pan I purchased from Surfas in Culver City and baking the cake was pretty straight forward.

I knew the key to frosting the cake was to wait until it had completely cooled down. Patience is not one of my best virtues, but I let the cake cool for more than an hour before I started working with it.

This may be lame on my part, but I have seen how Chef’s level cakes on TLC’s the “Next Great Baker,” I took out a serrated knife and leveled all three cakes. There is a first time for everything. After the cakes were level, I stacked them one at a time and separated them with a layer of the “Ultimate Chocolate Frosting.”

Now, I am eagerly waiting for my wife to come home so we can taste the cake.