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									                   Manager Training Resource Manual

                               Basic Knife/Cooking
Synopsis: Presented are some basic tips for the kitchen.

Who: KMs will want to pass this on to residents.

Knife Skills, Safety, etc:

The most dangerous knife in the world is the dull, un-honed knife. A “true” edge stands
up straight (you true with a sharpening steel). A leaning, untrue edge is dull in the plane
of the cut and requires more force to cut, causing slips and making it more likely it will
bounce onto your finger, where it will have no problem finding something to bite into.

Dull knives bounce off of bell peppers and tomatoes especially. Keep a “sharpening
steel” on hand and train residents how to hone a blade (they don’t’ actually sharpen, only
hone). Hone your knives before every meal.

5 on each side
3 on each side
2 on each side

roughly 20-25 degree angle

A truly dulled knife needs more than a “truing” it needs sharpening. Various local
businesses will sharpen your blades for you and its cheap. If your knife, once honed
doesn’t cut a tomato at the end of the meal in a satisfactory manner you may need to
sharpen that knife.

Never cut on plates, metal, or glass cutting boards! Only cut on wood or poly cutting

Always cut with your fingertips pointed down on even inward. Never raise the blade
above the supporting hand in a chop or mince.

Never place a dirty knife into a tub of water with suds or without. Always keep the knife
and blade in sight.

Always cut bell peppers with the smooth side down, the inside is easier to catch a burr
on, keeping the blade from bouncing.

Basic Cooking Tips

Steaming Vegetables – Steamed vegetables don’t actually have to be steamed, a quick
“blanch” in hot water will often suffice. For instance, asparagus, when bright green is
usually done enough to be pulled from the hot water, it will continue to cook, unless
shocked by cold water. For thicker veggies like brussel sprouts, cutting them into smaller

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                   Manager Training Resource Manual
pieces helps the boiling water “steam” method work more thoroughly. This works for
carrot, broccoli, cauliflower as well. When actually steaming veggies in bulk, stirring the
veggies can help prevent an uneven cooking depth. Either that or invest on a wider
steaming unit, the more vertical, the more depth problems. Keep an eye on these, very
easy to turn veggies grey. If you want to preserve color with shocking with cold water,
try lemon juice. Allow residents to salt to taste.

Stir Fry – Timing is everything. Whether on flat-top or wok, do your meats first and
harder veggies, then move up the wok, or over to the side where the heat is lower (turn
off a burner on the flat-top). Add progressively the items that take less time to cook and
absorb your sauce. Serve immediately, serve as fresh and green as possible. Onions and
tomatoes can go last. Chicken can be precooked and set with corn starch, to be seared at
the last as well. Bulk thigh meat can be easily cut while still semi-frozen into strips, use a
sharp but non valuable knife for this. Do ALL your prep before cooking, including
sauce. Serve immediately.

Chicken – frozen chicken breast will never cook as juicy as unfrozen chicken breast.
Bone-in and skin-on is also more juicy. Buying fresh is often worth the extra cost.
Higher fat content pieces (thigh, legs) can be cooked longer at lower temps for better
textures. This is true of all meats. Lean cuts do better with a quick sear and THEN a
lower cook through. Use a thermometer and knife to test whether the meat is done. Give
it 3-4 minutes to rest after grilling, it will continue to cook during this time. Vegetables
can be easily roasted with skin on chicken and seasoned the same way for more flavor,
juts set aside veggies to steam for vegetarians, but don’t’ be afraid to season these too.

Pasta – there are many ways to make pasta and serve fresh. Spaghetti can be oiled and
cold shocked for colder service under a hot sauce in a separate pot. However, if a pasta is
to be mixed with sauce, don’t rinse it with water (just drain and splash on oil). Then
return to pot, stir in oil and get the sauce on it ASAP. Clumping pasta when cooking in
bulk means you’re not stirring enough, did not oil water, not enough water, and/or are
using cheap pasta. Salted water boils faster. Cold shock, rinse orzo, and then oil before
making a cold pasta salad. The oils that sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, olives, etc
are packages in can be used to great effect. If making a marinara, be aware of water
content of any veggies you add, stir frequently to help it reduce, and use low flame, as it
burns on bottom easily. For lasagna there is no need to pre-cook noodles. Noodles
should be able to cook in sauce and cheese if prepared right and sealed with plastic
covered by foil to seal in the water. Buttered pasta tastes 50x better when made the day
before and re-heated. Ravioi or pasta cooked in chicken or veggie stock where possible
always tastes better.

Sauces – when reducing sauces, keep a true simmer and keep your eye and mind on the
sauce. Set a timer if you need to every 3-5 minutes to remind yourself not to forget to
check on everything.

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                   Manager Training Resource Manual
Burgers – thaw them before cooking. Have veggie and turkey alternatives. Have fun
with garnishment, add sautéed onions, mushroom, bacon, avocado, not the standard
fixings tray only.

Seasoning – fresh herbs often have a very different flavor profile , layering need, and
strength than dried. Pay attention to the recipe and be aware of potentially overdoing it if
you don’t’ have fresh seasoning herbs on hand.

Chiles – wash your hands after handling chilis, under the nails too!

Oil/Zest/Lemon Juice – a decent olive or canola oil can be used for cooking most dishes,
but a nicer extra virgin finishing oil can really add fruity zing to a dish. Peanut oil is
excellent with baking chicken, lamb, pork, but should be used moderately, it is really bad
for you. Sesame oil likewise can be used to really add flavor to Asian dishes (sesame oil,
seeds, and soy sauce make an excellent asparagus dish served pre-blanched cold and
steeping for a while). Grapeseed oil is really fun for pre-mix salads and is not as heavy
as olive oil. Zesting lemons can really add life to a dish. Micopplanes are great tools for
zesting. Lemon and lime squeezers are invaluable tools for any kitchen. Lemon Juice is
especially great for orzo salad, roast beet salad, fish, chicken, shrimp.

Fruit Salads – citrus juice will keep a fruit salad fresh and un-oxidized longer.

Texture – think your menu through. Most people these days prefer a little crunch to their
fruits and veggies. If you’re doing pasta, then keep the broccoli crunchy. If you’re doing
broccoli in a casserole with macaroni and cracker crumbs, cook the broccoli through,
shock it with cold water and lemon juice to keep color, but let it bake in soft and let the
crackers be the crunch. Thin sliced water chestnuts, celery, green onions, red onions, etc
can add crunch to a stir fry, pasta salad, or salad. A handful of candied pecans can save a
salad that is otherwise bland.

Seasonal foods – pay attention to the veggies, fruits , and dishes you’re envisioning.
Heavier cooking goes over better in the winter, fall vegetables can be excellent in fall but
leave you wanting when you try in similar weather in the spring. See our list of seasonal
vegetables/fruits in the KM resource materials. Be prepared to explain to residents why
they can’t have strawberries in the winter, educate them.

Labeling dishes/presentation – fear is bred of ignorance. We eat with our eyes as well as
our mouths. Use of color, heat, cold, plate, zest, garnish can help a ton. 1/4 red bell
pepper chiffonned on top of any dish adds wonderful color. Think parsley, chard,
cilantro, tomatoes, paprika, green onions, sesame seeds (black/white), yellow bell pepper,
green beans, egg, etc. Label your dishes, label them with flair but also let folks know if
you used allergens like peanuts, milk, cheese, meat. Spaghettini de Boyardee sounds so
much better than Spaghetti Os. ;’)

This document researched and written by:
Nick Peters

cc2c8929-8c5b-4918-945a-60e446964ae5.doc                                                       3 of 3 4/27

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