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Practice your knife skills in an upcoming cooking class:
“Knife Lessons: Chop, Chop” on April 13 at 6 pm
“Prep School” on June 2 at 6 pm
St. Louis Magazine interviewed Anne Cori for tips on using kitchen knives:
  • Secure your cutting board. We have gripper mats to put underneath, or you can use a wet towel. You want a stable cutting board.
  • Personally, I like a 10-inch chef’s knife. A large knife is a more stable knife. You use a rocking motion, so your fingers are not in danger, and you’re not chopping again and again, releasing the juices and crying over the onions.
  • People hold a chef’s knife the wrong way. They point their index finger on top or hold the knife back at the handle. But the balance of the knife is at the bolster, between the handle and the blade. Let your thumb and forefinger come forward onto the top of the blade and feel the difference.
  • If you use a slicing knife, hold the handle, because the blade is narrower, and do not using a rocking motion.
  • With round vegetables, first cut a flat surface. To chop an onion, slice off the stem (top) of the onion, but leave the root (the hairy end), because it holds the onion together. Now cut straight through the root, halving the onion, then peel it. The vertical cut gives you an edge to grab, so it’s easier to peel. Make several horizontal cuts, going to the root but not through the root so the onion is still held together. Then, with the tip of the knife, make vertical cuts. Now rock the knife, so it never lifts up from the cutting board. With the tip of the knife down on the board, I press down to cut, then slide the knife forward, still resting on the board, to secure the bottom cut. Then I lift the knife and pull back to make the next cut. Down, forward, up, back.
  • To cut bell or hot peppers, don’t cut them in half—then you have to scoop out the insides. Keep the stem on, slice down the sides, then throw away the middle by the stem. It’s much easier to cut the peppers into strips skin-side-down, then dice them with that rocking motion.
  • To cut turnips, rutabaga, or pineapple, it’s all the same technique. Cut off both ends to get flat surfaces, then cut off the skin all the way around.
  • Butternut squash has seeds, so I cut off both ends to get flat surfaces, then cut off the neck. I slice off the skin of the neck, then slice the skin off the bulbous part, cut it in half, and scoop out the seeds.
  • Watch your hands. When you’re slicing something horizontally—an onion, a turnip, even a bagel—palm the top to hold it stable. When you’re holding a vegetable and slicing vertically, curl your fingers, so the tips are in no danger.
  • Sharpen your knives. A sharp knife is a safe knife. Knives should be honed at least once a week. Honing just maintains an edge. If you’ve lost your edge, you can hone forever and not get it back. You need to get it sharpened. Kitchen Conservatory charges $3 a knife, 24-hour turnaround.
  • To hone, hold the sharpening steel [that long thick icepick thing that came with your knives] straight up, and slant your knife at a 20-degree angle against the sharpening steel. To find 20 degrees, start at a 90-degree angle, cut it in half, cut it in half again. Now, go back and forth slowly, alternating sides, maintaining that angle.