Hey! I love your recipes and advice! Here's my question:
What brand of knife would you recommend to a beginning cook? I was thinking about a 5" santoku knife. What do you all think? Or would a regular chefs knife be more practical for an all purpose knife?
When you go to buy a knife, the most important thing is how it feels in your hand. Pinch the knife between your thumb and forefinger just at the hilt. Wrap your other fingers around the handle. The weight balance should be fairly even between blade and handle; you should never feel like you’re supporting a heavy handle or fighting a weighty blade when you’re holding your knife. Do you feel comfortable holding that knife? Confident? It should feel like an extension of your arm: natural, effortless.
Second, look for a good handle. Preferably you want a solid knife: one where the blade tapers into the handle, or where the handle is bolted around the blade.
Third, ignore things like brands, labels, and price tags. My brother genuinely prefers his extremely expensive Shun, which gives me blisters.
Personally, if you’re buying one knife, I would not get a 5”. That’s just a paring knife; it’s made for precision cuts, peeling peaches into your hand grandma-style, and finely mincing small things like garlic and ginger. A paring knife is inadequate for most things: breaking down a chicken, chopping potatoes, slicing squash.
I recommend you try out a couple of 8” chef’s knives. Henckles makes great knives that’ll last forever, but go with whatever you feel most comfortable holding and using. The knife I use the most is an 8” chef’s knife from Ikea. It’s well balanced, comfortable to hold, and has kept a good edge for over 3 years. And that’s all that matters.
I love your show. Love it. I have a question though; what camera do you use to film the show? The professionalism adds to the low-key, easygoing atmosphere you guys seem to give off. Aside from the delicious recipes you literally give off, ahah
Thank you! Our show is shot and directed by Kit Pennebaker (kit1232.tumblr.com) on the Canon 5DMarkII.
What advice do you have for young (college-age) people looking to expand their culinary skills but are both apprehensive to try "risky"/challenging dishes and are strapped for cash?
Think of yourself as a minimalist rather than a broke student. Make your pantry your arsenal: stock it with the things you love best: maybe the only seasoning you like is salt and pepper; maybe you hate dried herbs but love ground spices. Grab a few different types of dried pastas, at least one variety of dried beans, and your favorite kind of rice. Spend an extra buck or two for high-quality canned tomatoes (I recommend either Muir Glen Organic or tomatoes actually from Italy). Ditto for a small hunk of good butter (don’t buy those 4-packs of quarter pound sticks - unless you’re a baker, the butter will go stale before you can use it all) and a wedge of your favorite cheese. Buy a bottle or jar of olive oil from a store that lets you taste the oil first, and don’t buy the most expensive oil or the biggest bottle.
Now your pantry’s stocked and you can make a completely satisfying meal just from there - olive oil + tomatoes + salt + time = marinara sauce; reconstitute your beans, simmer them in salted water, season them, and top with your marinara or toss with rice. With beans, rice, pasta, and good canned tomatoes, you’ve got at least half a week’s worth of meals taken care of.
From there, hit up your farmer’s market. Get onions, garlic, potatoes, eggs. Get your favorite fruits and vegetables. Wash and slice your vegetables, toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and lay them flat on baking sheets. Roast your veggies in big batches, then store them in the fridge. They’re even more delicious cold the next day, tossed with a little extra olive oil and some fresh parsley - or even just straight out of the container. Splurge on a good loaf of bread or even a foccacia and make yourself a cold vegetable sandwich: press the veggies down into the bread, drizzle with olive oil and maybe some balsamic, and smash the sandwich together. Top the veggies with cheese if you want, but you’ll see it isn’t necessary. Cut your potatoes into large cubes, toss in a pot with twice as much salt as seems right, and cover by an inch with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes are just fork-tender. Store them in the fridge and eat them either tossed with olive oil and mustard, or smash them down a little in hot oil in a skillet until brown and crispy on the outside and top with a fried egg.
Freeze your vegetable trimmings - carrot peels and tops, onion and garlic skins, zucchini ends, old herbs - until you have a good amount. Toss in a pot, cover by an inch or so with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer 15-30 minutes for homemade vegetable stock. Freeze the stock and whenever you need it - say, to make a more flavorful soup with your beans - toss a big veggie broth ice cube in a pot and slowly melt it before adding your reconstituted beans.
If you’re a meat eater, think of meat as more of a seasoning than a main ingredient: chop a slice or two of bacon, fry in oil, and add the bacon to a soup of white beans and escarole. Ditto chorizo with black beans and potato, or chickpeas and kale. Buy quality meat in small quantities and you’ll find the taste to be richer and more satisfying than a big hunk of crap meat.
And, perhaps, above all - save your stale bread either for bread crumbs (blender, then freeze) or for French toast.