Do you have aspiring chefs living with you? Sit down with them and part two of this how-to guide on every kitchen basic they need to know to be safe and successful in the kitchen. This installment covers everything from grocery shopping to preparing veggies for recipes so they can start creating their own dishes in no time! See Kids Can Cook 101 for the first part of this series and Kids Can Cook Lesson 2 for the second.
Vegetable Prep and Mise en Place
To make cooking a little easier, it is helpful to prep vegetables and ingredients ahead of time. Chefs call this “mise en place” and it means “everything in its place” in French. To have your mise en place ready, you will need to have all your ingredients and tools out and ready to be used. You will also need to pre-cut any vegetables you will need. This way, when you are cooking, everything is ready for you when you need it.
Almost all vegetables and fruit need to be cut in different ways. Here is a quick guide to common ingredients.
Avocado: Slice in half around pit. Slice into quarters and remove pit. Slice cubes with a paring knife and scoop out with cubs.
Apple, Pears: Slice in half using a chef’s knife. Slice into quarters and then cut out core. Slice into slices.
Basil: Stack five to six leaves, roll tightly, and slice into thin strips.
Carrots: Cut off the root end of the carrot and compost it. To make carrot sticks, cut the carrot into long finger-length sticks. Some carrot sticks may need to the cut in half or quarters lengthways. To make chopped carrots, cut carrot into small pieces from top to bottom (hold the carrot steady while doing this).
Celery: Cut off the root end of the celery and compost it. Pick off any celery leaves from the top and save them for salads or smoothies. To make celery sticks, cut celery into long sticks about the size of a finger. To make chopped celery, cut celery into small pieces from the bottom of the stalk to the top.
Garlic: Open bulb with fingers and remove cloves with fingers. Cut off root ends of cloves and peel off skins. Use a paring knife to slice cloves vertically then horizontally.
Kale: Rip leaves off the stem. Chop or tear leaves into bite sized pieces.
Lemons, Limes, Oranges: Use a zester to shave, peel and create zest. Stop zesting once you get to the white skin which is bitter in taste. Cut lemon in half and squeeze to get juice out.
Onion: Cut off ends, peel skins and cut in half. Slice onion vertically than horizontally like a grid.
Peppers: Cut pepper in half and remove seeds and stem. Hold one half the pepper, and cut it into long thin strips.
Potato, Yam, Sweet Potato: Make a small slice on the potato to make a flat surface. Lay flat surface on cutting board. Slice potato in one direction for disks. OR Slice into long flat pieces, than again to make fry-shaped potatoes.
Squash: Peel the skin using a vegetable peeler. Trim ends and cut squash in half with a knife. Remove seeds using a spoon. Slice into cubes.
Strawberries: Cut off the strawberry stem. Cut strawberry into slices or quarters.
What’s the first vegetable you remember being able to properly slice?