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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Side dish and a tutorial

You didn't really think I'd pass up a chance to be pedantic, did you? First, the tutorial, then the recipe. I've had a couple of folks ask me about the "Do I need to do a clinic on using a chef's knife to chop an onion?" comment in the Green Chicken Casserole recipe below. Apparently I do need to. 1.) Hold the chef's knife like this: thumb and index finger gripping the blade up toward the top 1/3 of the blade, near the handle; other three fingers firmly wrapping the blade. This gives you a firm grip and stabilizes the blade in three dimensions. 2.) Place the onion on your cutting board reserved for vegetable processing laterally, with the root end toward the hand you use to hold the knife (left for lefties, right for righties). 3.) Hold the knife above the onion, right-to-left in front of you (or left-to-right, for lefties). Place your non-knife-wielding hand on top of the blade (with your fingers splayed out on one side and your thumb also well-clear of cutting area on the other), reach down with your non-knife-wielding hand and grasp the onion. 4.) Place the tip of the chef's knife on the cutting board in front of the onion and, continuing to hold the knife blade on the onion with your non-knife-wielding hand and simply lower the hand holding the knife toward the board. The onion in halved vertically. 5.) Now, place one half face down on the cutting board with the root end away from your knife-wielding hand. Cut off a small portion of the shoot end of the onion but leave the root end uncut. Peel the onion skin off. 6.) Now, with the chef's knife blade held parallel to the cutting board and your non-knife-wielding hand holding the onion, make several parallel cuts into the onion from the shoot end almost to the root end. The more cuts, the finer chopped the onion will be in the end. The fewer cuts, the larger the onion pieces will be. 7.) Now, rotate the knife so that the blade is perpendicular to the cutting board and the blade points toward the root end. Make several vertical cuts across the grain of the onion making sure not to cut all the way through to the root end. 8.) Lastly, place the knife so the blade is perpendicular to the board and pointing directly away from you, across the onion. Make several cuts all the way through the onion and what falls way will be perfectly chopped or diced or minced onion pieces, pepending on how many (and how fine) the cuts you have made are. BTW, don't throw the root or stem ends you have left away. Can anyone say, "Freeze and keep for stock"? It's a lot simpler to show (and maybe I ought to make a slideshow of it), and very simple and quick to do. So simple and quick, that I've aced out scores of grannies in the kitchens of church socials over the years. *heh* Of course, nobody seems to like cutting onions, anyway, so maybe they were shining me on... (on the onion tears thing, another post, another time, maybe. It's a non-issue.) Now, the side dish. I alluded to "Spanish" rice in a couple of posts. Here are a couple of different recipes, depending on the taste buds of the folks eating. 1.) Moderately mild, with a tiny kick: Gringo "Spanish" rice Simple. Just grind some cumin (do NOT use the pre-powdered stuff. May as well use finely ground sawdust *sigh) from seed. Yeh, buy a coffee grinder just for your spices. Open a can (a can!?!?! yes, a can) of Rotel's™ tomatoes and chiles. Cook some rice as you normally would, just substitute the Rotel's™ for part of the water and add the cumin powder with the rice when the water/Rotel's™ is at a boil. I'm not going to dictate your rice cooking procedure. Mine won't work for you unless you have some so-called "waterless" cookware, anyway. You notice I did not specify amounts on the rise, water or cumin—or really the Rotel's™. That's what makes this so customizable for taste. Experiment to achieve what best suits your family. Even add more chiles, or other peppers, if your family likes it spicy. Make it your recipe. I sometimes add some of my own enchilada sauce to the mix. 2.) "Spanish" rice for babies and really green gringos Wimpy "Spanish" rice Just substitute your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce for the Rotel's™ in the above recipe. That ought to make it mild enough for all but the tenderest stomachs. There. A clinic on chopping an onion and two easy recipes. (Anyone noticed that the theme of all my recipes is EASY? *s*)