Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Slice and Dice

Although it may not be the most exciting job, peeling and chopping vegetables is a key part in preparing food. Someone must be responsible for breaking down the fresh veggies that enhance the flavor in so many dishes.

Today I began by using the deli slicer to prepare the salami for the salami sandwich that is served with fig jam and cheese. The machine may make slicing meats convenient, but it sure does take a lot of muscle! You have to put pressure on the meat so that it shaves uniform pieces. The secret is to slice the meat while it is colder. I also sliced a piece of veal that was used for one of the daily salads. The veal was harder to slice because it is not as firm as the salami. Whenever working with the slicer, you must be very careful because it is an accident prone machine!

Next I helped prepare a soup with sausage, ham, celery, potatoes, carrots, beans, and onions. The vegetables required lots of attention! I had to peel carrots and potatoes and then cut them into ½ inch cubes. This is not as easy as it seems. It is important to make sure the vegetables are all the same size so that they cook at the same rate. Making cubes from round vegetables is also a difficult task, you need to cut off one side and then cut strips so that you can slice the cubes from the strips. The soup was still on the stovetop when I left work, but it sure was smelling delicious! I’m sure it tasted even better!

So much peeling took place in the kitchen today, which was rather difficult until I found the good peeler. At first I was using a dinky plastic one that didn’t have much leverage. I had to peel the sweet potatoes and cube them up to make sweet mash for the vegetable plate. Then I had to peel carrots and shred them to make Happy Carrot Slaw that is on the Power lunch. After that I had to peel beets and shred them for the sweet potato salad. Luckily with the carrots and beets I used the Robot Coup, but then when I worked on the squash fritters, I had to shred them by hand on a box grater. That would be 20 squash that needed to be grated, by hand. Quite the task! I had to sauté the squash after I grated it to sweat moisture out so that they could be made into yummy fritters. These are also used on the vegetable plate.

While slicing and dicing up vergetables may be mundane work, it enhances my cutting skills. I am getting more efficient with knives, and more accurate when cutting up vegetables. Who knows maybe one day my knife skills will be better than Hong from Top Chef.

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