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Martha Stewart Living Television

Q: I am looking to put together a quality cutlery set. Can you tell me which knives are essential to a well-stocked kitchen?

 -- Paula Tomak, Cave Creek, Arizona

There are five knives that make up the basis of a good knife set, (although many chefs, amateur and professional, extend their collections well beyond these few): An 8- or 10-inch chef's knife, a paring knife, a 6- or 8-inch boning knife, a 10-inch slicer, and an 8- or 9-inch serrated bread knife. Choose good-quality forged steel knives that feel comfortable in your hand, are well-balanced, and have a tang -- the part of the knife covered by the handle -- that extends all the way down the length of the handle; this will add strength and balance.

Other knives Martha has added to her collection include a long knife for smoked salmon, a rounded shaping knife, and several shorter, heavier chef's knives for carving.

To keep cutlery in top condition, you need to sharpen them regularly. There are two excellent tools for this purpose: the sharpening steel and the sharpening stone. A sharpening steel is a long, rounded filelike tool with a knife handle. To use it, simply stroke the knife blade over the steel in one direction, bringing it along the steel in an arc that follows the curved edge of the blade, repeating several times on each side. To test the sharpness of the blade, try cutting a tomato: If the blade glides easily through the flesh, it is sharp enough. A sharpening stone is a rectangular piece of stone that is used wet -- saturated with either water or oil. Hold your knife at a slight angle against the surface of the stone, and rub it in a circular motion, repeating on each side. Clean the blade carefully after sharpening, and try the "tomato test" to ensure sharpness.

Comments (3)

  • kenley1 18 Aug, 2013

    I'm trying to purchase more martha Stewart steak knives (the serrated ones that com in a set of 4) bc someone walked off with a few of mine. Macy's site says they r no longer available and I can't find them for sale anywhere online. Does anyone know how I can find some more of these knives?

  • Gutz 6 Aug, 2012

    My Mother purchase some knives from Mrs. Stewart and has lost the covers to them..the knives are color coated for a specific red for beef...yellow for poultry..turquoise for for vegetables. Is there any way that I can purchase the covers? Thank You...Gutz.

  • tgbighair 13 Dec, 2007

    I Absolutely love this idea! I have small drawers and this knife holder I bought was a fit nicely in the drawer and keeps the dusting down nicely and frees up counter space! I recommend it!