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Monday, November 29, 2010

FOOD BOOK OF THE MONTH! Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills (Elliot)

ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS COMPLETE BOOK OF KNIFE SKILLS; the essential guide to use, techniques & care (Robert Rose, 2010, 400 pages, ISBN 978-0-7788-0256-3, $34.95 Canadian spiral bound) is by Jeffrey Elliot, a Henckels executive chef and Director of Culinary Relations for the firm. His co-author is James P. Dewan, a food writer for the Chicago Tribune and a culinary instructor. Although it is a "product" book with endorsements for Henckel knives, any knife can be used. Chefs have to use knives for every aspect of cooking. Learning how to hold and use a knife correctly will help the home cook work more safely and effectively, efficiently, and faster. Knives also promote uniform cooking by proper sizing, and presentation. This book has 1200 photographs, mostly in a series of techniques. The only thing better may be a video presentation – you can find several out there on YouTube or DVD. The opening chapter is the primer: all you need to know about knives, including a useful history, techniques of forging, knife styles, parts of the knife, blade styles, and more. Henckels makes a Japanese line, and these too are included (the Gyutoh, the Santoku, the Usuba, Kamagata, Nakiri, and others). Knife care is important, and how to maintain an edge is discussed.  All of this takes the first 90 pages. Basic fruit and vegetable cuts (including how to pit an avocado or breaking up a garlic head) is followed by cutting poultry, cutting meat, cutting fish and shellfish, and carving cooked meats. For those with flair, the last chapter covers tomato roses, radish flowers, carrot flowers, and eight more garnishes. No recipes.

Audience and level of use: home cooks, culinary students.

Some interesting or unusual facts: bias-cut slices of meat are typically fanned out when they're plated for a nice look.

The downside to this book: I am always leery of spiral binding because it is easier to rip out the pages.

The upside to this book: the photographs.

Quality/Price Rating: 91.


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