Welcome to the first day of my cook along book club! This week we were cooking from Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques – lessons 1, 3-6. On pages 7 – 19. These first few techniques are found under the chapter of ‘The Basics’ and they are just that… the basics! But I think this is a great place for us to start and it makes sure that everyone is on the same page.

Lesson 1  was ‘Holding a Knife’… which I have to admit I already knew how to do, but I don’t always do it. In fact I’m pretty lucky I still have all my fingers. I decided that my luck probably wont last forever so from this point forward I will try to use proper knife holding techniques – which means guiding the blade with my knuckles rather than exposing the tips of my fingers. For now I find it takes me a little longer to chop or slice much to the horror of my dog. I should explain… when I cook it normally looks like this:

And if I don’t drop a little snack every 2 minutes the reminders that ‘yes… he is still waiting’ begin. But I don’t think it will take long before I’m up to my normal chopping speed. Until then – sorry Lemon. But check out my chopped parsley!

Lesson 3 was how to peel and onion – again stuff I already knew but it’s nice to be told that ‘Yes you aren’t messing this up’.

Next was lesson 4 – How to Julienne. I’ll admit. I don’t think I’ve ever done this. I’m a rustic, large chunk chopping kind of girl. So I don’t believe I have ever delicately sliced small pieces. But it was easier than I had imagined – but harder than Chef Pepin made it seem. I started out by slicing carrots using my vegetable peeler as I do not have a mandoline, then stacked the carrot slices on top of each other and used my knife to slice into a fine Julienne. Sounds simple… but those carrots are slippery! The instructions said to layer 3 or 4 carrot slices on top of each other… I think I could do one folded onto itself and that last piece when there was no more room for my fingers to hold onto the carrot looked like it was chopped rather roughly. But in the end turned out to be a lovely addition to my salad and change from the large carrot chunks I normally do.

 Lessons 5 and 6 were how to clean and peel garlic and leeks – a good refresher and perhaps a helpful tip for those who haven’t done it before.

All in all I can say it was good to brush up on the basics – and that continues next week! Still covering the basics in Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques, next week we are working through lessons 7 – 11 on pages  19-27. Cook along with me – the lessons have just begun!