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Vegetables - Fruit Vegetables

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
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Fruit Vegetables

Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, chillies, tomatillos, and avocados, which are fruits according to botanists, are treated as vegetables in the kitchen. Eggplant is never used raw, while avocados are rarely cooked; tomatoes and peppers can be used either raw or cooked.


Halving & pitting avocado

Using a chef’s knife, slice into the avocado, cutting all the way around the pit.

Twist the cut halves gently in opposite directions to separate them.

Strike the pit with the knife blade to pierce it firmly. Lift up the knife to remove the pit from the avocado half.

Use a wooden spoon to carefully pry the pit off the knife. Discard the pit.

Holding an avocado half in your hand, gently scoop out the flesh with the help of a rubber spatula. Repeat with the other half.


Quick tip

The flesh of avocado discolors quickly when exposed to the air, so serve promptly or rub or toss it with lemon or lime juice.


Peeling & dicing avocado

After cutting the avocado in half and removing the pit , use a paring knife to cut the half into quarters and remove the peel.

Using a chef’s knife, cut the avocado flesh into neat slices. To dice the flesh, slice thinly and then cut across the slices to make dice.


Preparing bell peppers

Cut green, orange, yellow, and red peppers into squares for roasting, julienne for stir-frying, dice for brilliant color and sweetness with fish and salads, or slice off the tops and core and fill them for baking.

Place the pepper on a board and cut off the top and bottom with a utility knife. Stand the pepper on one end, hold it firmly, and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the core and seeds with the point of the knife.

Slice the pepper into manageable portions. To cut out the ribs, lay a section of pepper flat. Hold the knife, with thumb on bolster, horizontal to the chopping board and cut off the pale, fleshy ribs.

Cut into smaller sections, following the natural lines in the pepper, then chop into batonnets or julienne, depending on the size of the pepper and the dish you are preparing.


Decoring for stuffing and roasting

Cut around the stalk of the pepper and pull it off, taking the core with it. Rinse inside to remove all the seeds, then blot dry with paper towels.


Chilli peppers

If preparing a lot of chillies, wear plastic gloves, or they will burn you for hours afterward. If you don’t, wash your hands and avoid touching any tender part of your body, including eyes and lips, for several hours.


Chopping chillies

Using a paring knife, cut off the top and bottom of the chilli. Cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the core and seeds with the tip and point of a knife. Since the skin is tough, place the chilli flesh-side up on the board, and slice lengthwise into fine strips. If required, the strips may then be diced.


Making chilli-flower garnishes

With the paring knife point, cut through from the stalk to the tip. Rotate the chilli 90°, and cut again. Flatten and tease out the long quarters; cut each in half again. The chilli is now divided into eight “petals.”

Remove the ribs to help the petals curl; don’t worry if some seeds remain. Place in a bowl of iced water for several hours, and allow to curl. Use for garnishing canapé plates, rice, and Asian-style dishes.


Peeling, seeding & chopping tomatoes

When tomatoes are used in a soup or sauce that is not passed through a strainer, they are often peeled and seeded first. This peeling method is also used for fruit, such as peaches and plums, and for chestnuts.

With the tip of a paring knife, cut around the core of each tomato to remove it. Discard.

Score an “X” in the skin on the base of the tomato. Immerse it in a pan of boiling water. Leave the tomato in the boiling water for about 20 seconds, until the skin splits.

Lift the tomato out of the pan of boiling water and then immediately submerge it in a bowl of iced water to cool.

Pull off the skin with your hands and the help of the paring knife. Cut the tomato in half and gently squeeze out the seeds.

Place each half of tomato cut-side down on the board and cut into strips. Then cut across the strips to make dice (known as tomato concassé).


Chopping button mushrooms

Button mushrooms give you an opportunity to improve your cutting skills, since they don’t slip on the board. Diced mushrooms, called duxelle, add sweetness to a white wine sauce or beurre blanc.

Wipe the mushrooms with a cloth—don’t wash them. Slice off the stalks with a utility knife; this longer, thinner knife gives greater accuracy than a small paring knife.

With the flat, trimmed sides to the board, cut the mushrooms into very fine slices.

If preparing dice, stack the slices on top of each other, and cut into thin slices lengthwise.

Slice across into tiny dice. Use the pinch grip to hold the knife and use a rocking motion, with the blade close to the board, for economy of movement. Hold the mushroom in place with two fingers on top.


Quick tip

Dried fungi can add intense flavors to a dish. Mushrooms such as cèpes and shiitakes are often used in Chinese, French, and Italian cooking. Soak the dried mushrooms first in warm water to allow any sand to sink to the bottom. After soaking them, squeeze out all the water, then slice the mushrooms finely, as in step 1.

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