Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Chop Carrots and Onions,Pot Stickers and Simple Lives Thursday

First, I'd like to thank you all for your unbelievable responses to Eleanor's birth story.  It felt like a major risk to put it out there and I have been totally overwhelmed at your response. I got emails, text messages, and comments telling me how much you enjoyed reading it.
THANK YOU.  There is nothing better than hearing that you've enjoyed reading something I've written. As a blogger it can feel a bit like a one-way conversation, shouting into an empty room.  Even though I can see by your clicks that you exist, it's very nice to have some confirmation.  So, thanks again, and always feel free to leave a comment, ok?  It makes me feel good.

This recipe is the perfect way to show you how I cut vegetables in the hopes that it might be helpful to you.  Of course fast and accurate prep work comes with practice, but you want to be sure you're practicing the right thing.  Today I'm going to show you how to cut carrots and onions.

Makes tons (this recipe uses pretty much the entire package of won ton wrappers)

1 pkg wonton wrappers (be sure not to get egg roll wrappers because they're too big. You'll probably find these in the produce aisle.)
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion
3 green onions
1-2 c. crimini mushrooms
1-2 c. carrots
4 cloves garlic
1 in. knob of ginger
1 c. vegetable or chicken stock
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1/3+1/4 c. soy sauce, separated
1 tsp. sesame oil

 how to chop a carrot:
 When you start chopping anything, your first goal is to make yourself a flat side.  Cutting round things is dangerous, so we're always looking to make ourselves a nice flat base to work on.  I hold the carrot on both sides, rest the tip of my knife on the board, and slice down the middle.
 Take the flat side down and use your knuckles, with your fingertips curled under, to guide your knife while you make matchsticks.
 This is how it looks from the side.  You can see that the knuckle of my middle finger is touching the side of the blade.  This is how you see chefs on tv chop vegetables without looking and still keep their fingers.
 After cutting lengthwise, rotate the carrot.  Stick your thumb on the back of the carrot and use it to feed the carrot through your knife while you again, with the tip rested on the board, chop.  Your chopping motion should be BOTH up and down and toward and away from yourself.  Use the thumb and move the FOOD not your knife.  The knife should stay in the same position the whole time.  Think of it like those guillotine cutters your teachers used.
 how to chop an onion
 with the root side of the onion in your non-dominant hand, slice off the bloom side just enough to remove the paper and give yourself that flat piece we talked about.  You're basically taking off the first inch or so, removing as little flesh as possible but getting to the white juicy onion part.
 Use this as your base.  Now that we have our flat spot, rest the top of the knife on the board (again, we're looking for stability.) and slicing down the middle of the root side of the onion.
 Keeping the root intact, peel the papery layers off and get down to the white part of the onion. Lay it flat on the big side you just made and slice through the middle to the root, knife facing parallel to your board.  Use a flat palm or curl your fingers up like I have and do this part slowly, since it's easy to slip here.
 Turn the onion so your knife tip is close to the root end and slice through the onion top to bottom in 1/4 in. slices, again using your knuckles to guide, pushing the tip in first and then slicing down.
 Rotate the onion again.  Curl your finger tips under and use your thumb to guide the root end of the onion through your knife as you chop up/down/back/forth.
 EASY!  Really it gets very easy the more often you do it.  So practice by cooking every day, ok?

On to the recipe.  Take those vegetables you so laboriously just chopped (once you've practiced enough, chopping takes little time) and cook them in a little oil over medium high heat.
 Once they start to soften, add your beef and brown.  Be sure to add a little salt and pepper with each addition.
 Once your beef is about halfway cooked through...
 Add your sliced mushrooms.
 Brown them.  Add your chopped ginger and garlic.  Season with 1/3 c. soy sauce and 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar. Taste and adjust for seasoning and then remove from heat.
You want your filling to be finely chopped so that you get a little of each ingredient in every bite, so I use a bench scraper.  
Add thinly sliced green onions at the very last moment so they're just barely warm.
 Pull the wrappers out of the plastic and cover with a damp paper towel so they don't dry out.  Fill each wrapper with 1 tsp (ONLY!) filling, brush each edge with egg wash, and fold in half.
 Take your triangles and brush the edges with more egg wash.  Then, crimp together pushing one side under the other.
 In the bottom of your skillet, add oil and brown the bottoms of the pot stickers.  Then, add 1/4 c. stock.  It should be hot enough that this starts to boil.
 Immediately cover the pot with a lid if you're fancy, or a sheet pan if you're not.  Slightly turn the pan so a little steam escapes.
The steam will cook the dumplings through.  Once it has almost evaporated, remove from heat and scrape out your dumplings.  
 Serve with the remaining soy, a drizzle of sesame oil, and thinly sliced green onions.
Ellie has been all about her toes this week.
What have YOU been all about this week?  Me, I've really been enjoying the SLT posts!

Featured Posts from Last Week's Submissions

SLT Featured Post Badge 
 We really enjoy reading your posts each week! Featured post bloggers, please grab the badge above and display it on your site! Link it to one of the host blogs' posts for the specific week that you were featured. Here are our picks from last week's submissions. Thanks to all who participated -- it is always hard to choose!
1. How to Craft the Perfect In-Season Salad by Riddle Love. "A good salad doesn't have to take years to assemble. We just need to know what makes a salad pleasing to the palate and eyes. In my opinion, there are four components (five for a meal salad) to accomplish this: sweet, salty, crunchy, and soft. For a meal salad, at "meaty" to that list. Use this rule of thumb and pair it with what you have to work with for the season and you've got yourself one beautiful, tasty, nutrient-dense treat."

2. Cultured Citrus Marmalade by Natural Health and Prevention. "These are xo good and a perfect topper for chicken or fish after you have cooked these meats, put into smoothies, or diced into cooked rice. They are also good eaten right out of the jar. We have had such a bounty of citrus -- this is the perfect way to preserve them and keep (and even add to) their high nutrient value."
3. I can't knit. I can't crochet. by Sweet Country Life. "I can recycle a sweater. Cut it into the shape of a hat. And sew it together like nobody's business! And then put it on the head of this cutie-pie and call it a day. And you can too."


Tip Top Shape said...

Great post! I always have so much trouble cutting onions. My eyes tear up like mad and I end up having to run in the bathroom and wash my face about half way through. Hopefully your little tutorial will make the next try go better!

Alicia Ambler said...

Thank you! My only advice is to practice over and over so you get faster. I think that's the only way to get over the tears. Good luck!

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