28 January 2011

Winter Salad and Book Review - Complete Book of Knife Skills

Chard and kale don't have to be cooked. They make a crisp, green winter salad you can actually make, and dress, the day before. I developed this recipe one winter when I was invited to a locavore potluck dinner. Each guest was to bring a dish in which every ingredient had been grown or produced within 100 miles of home, with the exception of salt and olive oil.

It was the first of January, so the possibilities were limited. The locally grown chard and kale looked really good, but what would I do with them? I didn't want to take cooked greens and have to reheat them. I thought if I sliced the chard and kale finely and left them to marinate in some sort of dressing overnight, that would make a nice change from the usual green salad.

Vinegar was out since I didn't know of a within-100-miles source for it. But I had Meyer lemons to provide acid and Satsuma mandarins to add color and a bit of sweetness to balance the slight (and quite pleasant) bitterness of the greens. Satsumas have the added bonus of being seedless and easily segmented. You might want to add some black pepper or a favorite herb; but even without the constraints of the 100-mile locavore diet, I prefer the salad with no embellishments. (I've since added a teaspoon of sugar to the recipe.)

I love to chiffonade; it's my favorite cut! Included, of course, in the excellent book recently sent me for review. The Zwilling J. A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques and Care is a book I wish had come out much sooner--before I had a chance to develop some of my own sad little techniques. But, hey, I still have all my fingers! Culinary experts Jeffrey Elliot and James P. DeWan have created a book that is the next best thing to a knife skills course at culinary school.

Its 384 pages include more than 1,200 step-by-step photos along with clearly written instructions, and its spiral-bound format makes it easy to use. You will learn how to choose, use and maintain the best knives for your purposes, as well as how to grip the knife properly and hold your guide hand. The book will have you chopping, mincing, paring, fluting and shucking in no time.

In addition to learning how to cut vegetables into sticks, dice, chiffonade and rondelles, you will master the oblique, paysanne, lozenge and tourné cuts. After working your way through the chapters on cutting poultry, meat, fish and shellfish, you'll feel like a charcutier-slash-sushi chef. A comprehensive volume, it even covers carving cooked meats of all types and how to make 11 different decorative garnishes.

Tell me about you and knives. How are your knife skills? What is your favorite knife? What size chef's knife do you like?

Chard and Kale Salad

(Makes 6 Servings)

1 8- to 12-ounce bunch chard, thinly sliced
1 8-ounce bunch kale, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Satsuma mandarin juice
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 or more Satsuma mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented (about 2 cups)

1 Start the salad the day before it is to be served; the greens need time to tenderize a bit. I do the chiffonade thing with the chard and kale, stacking and rolling the carefully washed and dried leaves and slicing them thinly into 1/4-inch-wide ribbons with either a chef's knife or Santoku.

2 In small bowl, whisk together the juices, sugar and salt; then whisk in the oil. In 3-quart bowl, combine chard, kale and dressing. Cover and refrigerate until next day. Two hours before serving, toss greens and add Satsuma mandarin orange segments.

Note: Rich Ferreira has been growing organic Satsuma mandarin oranges on his family farm, Side Hill Citrus, since 1989.


Unknown said...

So does is the bitterness of the kale cut when it's marinated with the dressing? The salad looks so fresh and wonderful!
I'm just starting to perfect my knife skills. Funny, I've been cooking for years, but it's taken me this long to actually hone in on the skills! My favorite knife is my chefs knife and if I can have that.. I love my little paring knife!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jenn. I don't even find the chard and kale to be at all bitter, but some people think it slightly so; and, the citrusy marinade takes care of it. It's so refreshing. And the only way my husband cares to eat the leafy greens!

Mary Bergfeld said...

Jean, your salad sounds wonderful and is delightfully different from standard pot-luck fare. I don't speak of my knife skills :-). I use a very old set of carbon steel Sabatier knives with additional blades from Henkles. I am new to your blog but have spent some time browsing through your earlier entries. I love the food and recipes you feature here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Mary, thank you so much! I'm so glad you like what you've found here and will be back!

Danielle said...

That looks so refreshing! You don't always think of salads in January but in a way they are more welcome than in summer--after so much rich food during the holidays! I like the idea of eating locally grown but it would be difficult, too, a this time of year.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Danielle. I agree--a welcome change after so much rich food. Sometimes we tend to eat a lot of "heavy" stuff in cold weather.

Sully said...

Slash…shlick…slash. Uh-oh. I see my reckless knife skills have incised Friday right out of the calendar. What did I do yesterday? Mmm…best forgotten. But at least it's not a lost weekend. Your column has me slathering all over the place, and if it wasn't because of all the citric references to things my palate finds delectable, it would be to all the cool new words I'm adding to my lexicon. From locavore and charcutier to chiffonade I am enthralled. I'm going to read your column 10 times, then run away to join the circus as a knife thrower. If things don't work out – read: inventory build-up of volunteer targets who bleed out owing to my uncertain aim – I will open a "mystery meat" restaurant of chopped, minced, pared, fluted and shucked cuts, all with "ketchup," of course. Thanks for the flashing steel of your fine prose.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Sully, for a comment only a Pulitzer prize nominated author could make!

Oregon Kimm said...

That salad looks so beautiful! You certainly have a way of drawing a reader in with your photos. They are always gorgeous.

My knife skills are lacking, but then again, I don't *gasp* cook that often. :-) But, my mother always said that I needed a fine set of Henckels for my home and made sure that I got them as a wedding present. She comes over and uses them when she cooks dinner for me. lol

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks so much, Kimm. Blogging is forcing me to work on my photography skills. Your amusing comment about your mother got my morning off to a great start!

Nancy said...

Hi Jean!!

Yay for Kale!!! Have been working on my relationship with kale and found that I love kale in salads and this one is perfect with the satsumas.
Favorite knife - 10 inch chef. Knife skills - could be better and faster but I had a good teacher! You are right - bad knife habits are hard to break!!

Thekla Richter said...

Ever since you first wrote about this I've experimented with a number of marinated raw kale salads and have really loved some of the results. My favorite one was kale, leftover mulled apple cider, apple cider vinegar, garlic, diced dried apricots, and almonds. I'd have garnished it with feta, but this was a leftover-using inspiration and I didn't have any!

My knife skills are very casual and utilitarian; not uber-pretty and probably not that efficient. I also tend to commit that kitchen sin of using inadequately sharp, not particularly well-made knives. One of these days I'll buy better knives and take the care of them that they deserve, and maybe treat myself to a knife skills class. I'd have a hard time learning such things from diagrams and pictures no matter how well done, as I'm a very kinesthetic learner.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Nancy! I used my 10-inch chef's knife for ages but am finding it hard to handle now (a couple of stiff fingers!). I have an 8-inch arriving next week and am very much looking forward to trying it.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thekla, that sounds like a lovely combination--cider, dried apricots and almonds--no feta needed! I would not have expected photos and diagrams to be so effective, but this book really amazed me. A class would be a lot of fun though!

Grant said...

Hey Jean, I've always envied chef-like knife skills and precision!! So that book (and delicious salad) looks like just the go for me. I'm off to amazon to order the book. Thanks again for a delightful and fascinating post.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Grant! You'll love the book. It's organized very logically and is well illustrated.

Since you did not take advantage of the opportunity to link your name to your blog, I'll put the URL here! http://enhancingmylife.blogspot.com

April J Harris said...

Sounds like a great book, Jean! I think most folks could use a bit of a brush up on their knife skills. Love the fresh, citrus dressing you've used on this healthy salad. Thank you for sharing it with us at the Hearth and Soul hop. Pinned :-)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

April, thank you! Appreciate your comment and your Pin and your hop!