Apr 18, 2013

Cut It Out!

Last week we discussed lots of culinary terms related to mixing. Another sphere of food preparation that has a variety of expressions is cutting. Of course, one can just say “cut up the vegetables” but using specific task relates words give the recipe reader a better understanding of how the food should look. Using particular expressions will allow you to follow a recipe so it turns out just the way the recipe writer plans. You may be familiar with some terminology while others will be new to you but you never know when you’ll come across a new word in the next recipe you read. Many of these words are both a verb; referring to the technique used as well a noun; referring to the product resulting from the technique.

Brunoise--Foods cut into cubes of 1/8″ X 1/8″ X 1/8″.
Carve--To cut cooked meat or poultry into portions.
Chiffonade—This word may refer to finely slice or shred leafy vegetables or herbs or to the cut leafy vegetables or herbs often used as a garnish.
Chop—To cut food into random shapes and sizes
Composed Salad-A salad prepared by arranging each of the ingredients on individual plates in an artistic fashion.
Crudites--Raw vegetables usually served as hors d’ oeuvres accompanied by a dipping sauce.
Cut In--A technique for combining margarine or butter with dry ingredients until the mixture resembles small crumbs; it is done with a pastry blender, two knives, a food processor or an electric mixer.
Dice-- To cut food into uniform cubes.
Flute-- To carve grooves, slashes or other decorative markings into vegetables and fruits.
Food Mill--A tool used to strain and puree foods simultaneously; it consists of a bowl with a hand-crank mechanism that forces the food through a perforated disk.
Frenched--A roast, rack or chop of meat, in which the meat and connective tissue have been removed from the rib bone.
Grate--To reduce food to small pieces by scraping it on a rough surface—usually a grater.
Hash--To cut food into very small, irregularly shaped pieces. The most common use is in “Hash Browns” which are chopped cooked potatoes fried in oil, pressed into a cake, and fried on the other side.
Juice--To extract the juice of a fruit or vegetable.
Julienne--To cut a food into a julienne shape which is a matchstick shape of approximately 1/8 X 1/8 X ½”.  This can be done with a knife, slicing tool or julienne peeler.
Mandoline--A manually operated slicer with adjustable blades used to obtain uniform slices, matchstick shapes or waffle cuts.
Mill-- To grind, pulverize or break down into smaller particles.
Mince--To cut or chop a food finely; much smaller than “dice.”
Pare--To remove the thin outer layer of foods such as fruits and vegetables) with a small, short-bladed knife known as a paring knife or with a vegetable peeler.
Pitted--A fruit that has had its pit removed.
Pitter--A tool used to remove stones from cherries and olives.
Puree--To process food to achieve a smooth pulp.
Ricer--A tool used to reduce a cooked food, such as a potato into rice-like pieces.
Shred--To cut into thin but irregular strips.
Steel--A tool, usually made of steel, used to straighten knife blades.
Supreme—A segment of citrus fruit with all membrane removed. “To supreme” means to remove the fruit from the membrane.
Zest--To remove strips of rind or peel from a citrus fruit. This is done with a zester or grater. It also refers to the strips that have been removed.

Let’s put some of these techniques to use in these simple but tasty recipes.
3 tablespoons canola oil

1 Spanish onion, diced

1 carrot, pared and julienned
1 zucchini, julienned
1 red pepper, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 bunch fresh basil, checked and chopped with a few leaves reserved and cut in a chiffonade

Heat oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat.  Add onions and sauté onions until just translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Add carrot strips to the pans and sauté for 2-3 minutes until slightly softened. Add zucchini and red pepper and continue to stir fry over high heat until just a bit soft. Add back the onions. Add the minced garlic and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper and stir once or twice to combine and coat the vegetables. Remove from heat and place in a bowl or platter. Top with basil chiffonade and serve immediately.

4 filets tilapia, about 1 pound per 4 filets
Kosher salt
1 grapefruit, supremed, juice reserved
1 orange, supremed
1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 small red onion, diced
3 scallions, checked and diced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. honey
1 small jalapeño pepper, minced (remove all seeds and ribs if you don’t want the salsa to be hot.)
Fresh parsley checked and cut in a chiffonade

Preheat oven to 475 F.
Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towel. Arrange fish in single layer in shallow 12 x 8-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray or lightly oiled with canola oil.
Season fish with salt, to taste.
Place grapefruit pieces and juice in bowl with orange supremes, mango, onions, scallions, olive oil, honey and jalapeño pepper. Stir gently and pour over fish filets.
Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 14 minutes, or until fish flakes easily when tested with fork (fish should just turn opaque; do not overcook.)
Remove from oven and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve hot or warm.

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