Knives 101

The Martha Stewart Show

Chef John Barricelli of the SoNo Baking Company and Martha list the knives that every cook should have in the kitchen.

Chef's Knife

An eight-inch blade is adequate for an all-purpose knife, but a ten-inch one is best. It is important to buy a knife that feels comfortable in your own hand. If your hands are small, you may prefer a narrow, bolstered knife that allows the forefinger to perch more comfortably on top of the blade. Buy a Wusthof-Trident Chef's Knife.

Bread Knife

Most bread knives have a serrated or scalloped edge that saws through both hard crust and soft crumble. The tip curves down, exerting pressure while biting down into the crust. Bread knives are not only used for cutting bread, they are also good instruments for cutting pineapples, melons, tomatoes, and even chocolate. Buy a Wüsthof-Trident Classic Bread Knife.

Paring Knife

A three-and-a-half-inch or shorter blade paring knife provides flexibility in peeling and cutting fruits or vegetables. Paring knives are great for digging out potato and pineapple eyes and thinly slicing cheese and vegetables. Buy a Wusthof-Trident Classic Paring Knife.

Proper Storage

Store knives properly to maintain their edges. A wooden drawer tray with slots isolates each blade. If you are storing knives in an open drawer, make sure it is lined with a non-slip material. Also, try using a magnetic strip that hangs just above your countertop-freeing up valuable counter space and making your knives easily accessible. Just be sure that the knives are not in reach of young children.

Sharpening Knives

Sharpen knives several times a year on a stone. A rectangular Carborundum block with medium-coarse and medium-fine grit is most common. Before using, cushion the stone in a damp towel, lubricate it with oil, and point it away from yourself with the short end facing you. Start with the coarse side up; lay the heel of the blade on the bottom right-hand edge of the stone. Holding the knife at a 20-degree angle to the stone, push the blade down the length of the stone, while sliding it sideways from heel to tip. Hold the handle with one hand while guiding the blade with the other. Turn the knife over; repeat, starting with the heel of the blade on the lower left-hand edge of the stone. After ten to twenty swipes on each side, use the fine-grain side to keen the edge.the stone. After ten to twenty swipes on each side, repeat these steps on the smooth side of the stone. Finally, give the blade a few passes over the steel to remove any loose bits of metal.

Techniques

Chop an Onion
To chop an onion, slice off the stem end with a chef's knife; use a paring knife to peel off the skin of the onion and to cut out the root end. Then, using your chef's knife again cut it in half from top to bottom and place the cut halves, flat side down, on a work surface. Lay an open hand on the rounded side of the onion and push down while making vertical cuts lengthwise, using about 90% of the knife's blade. Make a few horizontal cuts, then chop across the onion to make cubes.

Slice an Onion
Slice off the stem ends of the onion with a chef's knife, using a paring knife peel the skin off of the onion and cut out the root end. Then, use your fingertips as a guide for slicing by tucking them under and holding the food to keep them from getting nicked as you slice horizontally.

Julienne Carrots
Peel carrots, cut into equally sized pieces. Hold chef's knife and cut each piece horizontally, rocking knife from front to back.

Chiffonade Basil
Chiffonade refers to very thin strips of lettuce or herbs, such as basil leaves. Stack several leaves, with the largest on the bottom. Roll them up, and thinly slice them from one end of the roll to the other.

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