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There are a number of crucial cuts in the kitchen – listed below are just five of the most used. Knowing when to use each one will not only leave you feeling like a pro, but will also help make your food look mouth-wateringly good. For example, diced peppers work well in continental dishes such as paella and risotto, which call for flashes of colour and a mix of flavours, but South American cuisine such as fajitas call for chunky slices.
Chop: Large squares, roughly ½ to ¾ inches
Dice: Small chops, approximately ¼ to 1/8 of an inch
Mince: Cut ingredients as small as possible with a knife
Slice: A vertical cut down the length of the food, as thick or thin as you like
Julienne: Long, thin matchstick- like strips, roughly 1/6 to 1/8 of an inch in size.
Measurements that matter
Dash, smidgen or pinch - how do you decide?
A dash is most used in connection with liquid and can relate to flavour enhancers such as Worcester sauce or tabasco or staples such as oil or vinegar. A pinch usually refers to salt, sugar or spice, whereas a smidgen can be used for a variety of ingredients from saffron to chilli powder.
A dash: 1/8 teaspoon – or six droplets
A smidgen: 1/32 teaspoon – a couple of droplets or a few grains (in other words, just enough to give a hint of flavour!)
A pinch: 1/6 teaspoon – or enough to grab between your thumb and forefinger
The technique you use will depend on the meal that you are making, so it is important to select carefully.
Blanching vs Poaching
Blanching is a technique used to cook veggies just enough without leaving them mushy or discoloured, such as green beans.
Poaching involves cooking in a liquid between 140F to 180F. It is typically the chosen method for delicate foods and is often considered to be the healthier option as it does not use fat to flavour the ingredients.
Poaching can be used to make an array of delicious meals, including all- time breakfast favourite Eggs Benedict (feeling hungry yet?!)
Baking vs Broiling
Whether a birthday cake or home-made bread, food must be surrounded by a consistent temperature when baking. The oven will reach an even temperature throughout.
Broiling is when your food is exposed to direct heat. Food should be positioned under the top of the oven, similar to grilling. A popular broiled bite is salmon.
Braising vs Stewing
Braising and stewing use slow, moist heat to tenderise beef and other meats- methods made easy with the Morphy Richards Supreme Precision Multicooker.
Braising, aka ‘pot roasting’, is when large cuts of beef are partially submerged in liquid.
Stewing refers to small, uniform cuts of beef that are completely submerged in liquid.
What about sautéing?
Sauté is a French word, meaning ‘to jump’. In cooking, sautéing involves cooking uniformly cut ingredients at a high heat, without letting them sit in the pan for too long.