Cook Faster: 5 Tips to Prep Ingredients More Quickly | Amy Vig | Skillshare

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Cook Faster: 5 Tips to Prep Ingredients More Quickly

teacher avatar Amy Vig

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Tip #1


    • 3.

      Tip #2


    • 4.

      Tip #3


    • 5.

      Tip #4


    • 6.

      Tip #5


    • 7.



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About This Class

In this class we'll be talking about the main component of making any meal faster - chopping ingredients. Honing your basic, practical knife skills will allow you to make from-scratch meals in less time. Forget those 30 minute meals that end up taking you over an hour! These basic tips will help you be more confident and quick in the kitchen in no time.

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Amy Vig


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1. Introduction: Hi there. My name is Amy, and I'm going to be your instructor for this course. I'm a natural food chef who's been professionally cooking and teaching about food for the past six plus years. I run a site called Cooking With a Full Plate, where I focus on faster cooking for healthy families. But whether you're a parent or not, you probably have more on your plate on any given day than you can handle and cooking off involved into the should category. Oh, I want to eat healthier. Oh, I know that I should cook more or really feel like I want to do that. But it's so much work, and I don't know how to make it happen. I built this class toe help you take steps towards cooking faster. This means taking the friction out of finding and making recipes that you're going to love in a time that you can manage. So this isn't about gourmet skills or perfect knife cuts, but rather the practical information to help you actually get a 30 minute meal on the table in 30 minutes or your blue apron meal and under an hour. These are common concerns. I've heard from both clients, friends and family. And what I'm gonna do here in this course is give you practical tips, along with video instruction and a great project at the end, that's going to help you become a faster, more confident cook in the kitchen. Let's get started. 2. Tip #1: The first thing you want to do when getting started with chopping faster is to ensure that you have the right equipment. As you can see here, you'll need a cutting board, a knife and preferably two towels. In addition, first and foremost, the main thing that you want to help you chop faster is a sharp knife, a sharp eight or 10 and chef's knife, like the one that you'll see here is going to help you chop everything faster. The knife that you see here is a Victoria Knox by rocks, which I love because it's super sharp and very affordable. You can find it on Amazon for about $40 and I've found that it lasts for a very long time and does a great job with helping you chop faster in the kitchen. Next, you'll want to ensure that you have a large cutting board with plenty of space to chop. At the end of the day, would or plastic will dio, and it's a matter of personal preference. You'll see here that I have a large would one that I got from my Kia for a very low price that does the job really well. In addition, you'll want those two. Kitchen tells that I talked to you about. Later. You'll see that I've placed one under my cutting board. I slightly dampen it before placing it under the cutting board to deal with the common issue of runaway cutting board, especially on slick surfaces like marble. This will ensure that you're not working on keeping your cutting board from running away from you while trying to chop more quickly. The second kitchen tell gets folded and is next to my cutting board. This is the one that I used to wipe my knife white. My board between different items that I'm chopping or generally just wipe off the counter. Having it nearby is going to cut down on time that you spend running around the kitchen looking for equipment that you might need. One bonus item that you may want to have on hand when you get started with chopping is a large bowl if you've ever watched Rachel Ray. She refers to this as her garbage bowl, but you'll see it often in professional kitchens as well. The idea being just like having a kitchen towel nearby. If you have a large bowl that you can throw all of your scraps into it can cut down on time that you spend running around the kitchen trying to clear your cutting board instead of focusing on the task at hand. 3. Tip #2: So now that you're ready to get started with chopping, I want you to remember this mantra. I will find a flat surface. If I can't find one there, I'll create one. This is perhaps the most important tip. When you go to start chopping a new item, you need to find a flat surface. So every time you chop a new piece of produce, especially those pesky round or cylindrical ones, I'm talking everything from orders to carats, watermelon, two radishes and pineapple toe onions. The best thing about finding a flat surface is that you suddenly have a much sturdier and more reliable surface. Now you get to focus on chopping your produce into the shape you like, instead of keeping it from rolling away and risking your precious fingers. Trust me, this is a big game changer. Check out this video here where I'll show you the power of finding a flat surface notice here how I'm cutting this carrot. I'll start by cutting off the ends. But instead of creating a flat surfaces, I explained, I'm gonna work on cutting the carrot, as many would just holding it tight with my fingers. Watch how the carrot really wants to roll away, and I'm having to do a lot of work to keep it held down so that it doesn't It's on Lee. Once I get to the flat service that I'm able to move more quickly with my chopping. Now, watching this clip, what a big difference one small change can make. So I've caught the ends, and now I'm going to slightly trim a little wedge off, which is gonna allow me to have a flat surface of my carrot watches. I cut and no longer need to worry about the carrot rolling away from me. This is going to give you much more control, help you move much more quickly and reduce their concentration required when you're chopping round or cylindrical items. 4. Tip #3: Now that you've ensured that you have the right equipment and you found a flat surface, I want to talk to you about the proper way to hold a chef's knife. Hopefully, you have that super Sharps chef's knife on hand, but if you're not holding it the right way, you're not gonna be able to get the same amount of power and control that you otherwise might be able to get. I know that your instinct is to be safe by keeping your hand as far away from the blade as possible. Well, that makes sense. Visually, it's actually reducing your control over the knife and making you more likely to cut yourself. There are several different ways that you can hold a knife correctly for maximum power. One is called the Handle grip, and one is called the Blade Grip. My preference from thousands of hours of cooking is the blade grip, and I found it to be the most user friendly. So that's what I'm going to demonstrate here. You'll notice in this video that instead of holding the knife far towards the end of the handle, as you might be inclined to dio, I'm instead keeping my hand right towards the blade with my thumb on one side and a bent pointer finger on the other side. Now observe here one more time the speed and precision that come from combining the flat surface technique and choking up on the knife. I'm able to move quickly and fluidly through chopping the zucchini. In contrast, if you look at this earlier example where I'm holding further from the blade, you may even notice some wobbliness in there. Just like finding a flat service knife grip is another thing that you want to control to increase your speed and precision when chopping. 5. Tip #4: great. You've insured, you have the right equipment. You found a flat surface and you're holding your knife the correct way. So let's move on to tip number four, which is have a vision. This tip has me feeling much more like a life coach than a chef, but it's also super key, so I'll dive right in. Basically, you wouldn't start driving somewhere without knowing where you're going, right? And I'm guessing artists don't just start putting paint on a board without visualizing what they're going to make first. And while I'm sure there are exceptions to both of these rules, they illustrate the point that many people miss when they start chopping a piece of produce , they don't visualize what they want it to look like in the end before getting started. Slicing an onion requires a slightly different technique than dicing one, and mincing requires finer cuts from the get go. Knowing what you want your final pieces toe look like will go a long way in helping you get there. Not sure what you want them to look like. Or maybe you think you don't care. Or maybe you don't even know what the different terms mean, check out this slide, which will give you a better idea of three of the most common knife cuts, along with a bonus one to give you a better idea of what they look like in an effort to drive all this home a little bit more. I've created a few videos to help show you what dice slice mints and Julian look like, so that you can picture them as you start your chopping journey. Let's start with dice. In this video. I'll be showing you my standard process for dicing on onion, But this process really holds true for any item that you go to dice. So when you go to dice, you wanna InVision even cubes, which can range from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch cubes, depending on what you're making. This is often called chopped or cubed in recipes. As you can see, what I've done is peel the onion and then create a flat surface by cutting through the center of the onion. Now that I've peeled the onion watch, here is I follow steps that we've been talking about for faster chopping. First, I create a flat surface by cutting through the center of the onion. Now I place my hand flat on top of the onion to hold it steady while cutting inward towards the stem first horizontally and then down towards the cutting board. This is creating a grid that will help me to create the dice that I'd like to have in my onion. And finally I'm cutting across. You can see that this is about 1/4 inch dice, and those pieces they're gonna be perfect to be sauteed for a soup. Just keep in mind that if you were doing something like onions and celery to go with this, your main guide would be that you want them to turn out about the same size. Is these onion pieces here for faster cooking and for easier eating. Next, they want to demonstrate the process for slicing, which you'll notice starts off on Lee slightly differently than the process of dicing the onion in the previous video. One of the main things you want to keep in mind when slicing is that you're looking for thin pieces that are cut and even thickness. This technique is very common for onions, carrots and zucchini, to name a few and is perfect when you're making something like a store fry or fetus. So first and foremost, I've given myself that flat surface, and I'm laying the onion down on it. Now, instead of cutting horizontally parallel to the cutting board, I'm just doing the inward cuts about as thin as I want my slices to be. You can actually follow those lines of the onion. Now you watches. I detach it from the stem, and then you have lots of nice fine slices that will fry up really well. In this next video, I'll be demonstrating how two minutes. Most commonly you'll find recipes that call for mincing garlic. This is a very small, imprecise chop, so our goal here is to get lots of fine pieces, but not worry too much about the evenness of them. So what you'll see here is that I've separated some cloves of garlic and taking the peels off. I kind of smashed them down because with a mince, it's nice to actually start with a pre flattened surface. And then I'm just running my knife through these one way and then coming back through with the knife the opposite way. Watch here is, I hold my hand at the end of the knife. This is important in garlic mincing technique because it studies your knife and allows you to run your knife through the garlic more quickly. I can't think of many other items that you would follow exactly this technique with. Maybe you would do it to finally mince Ginger. But for the most part, like I said, this is a technique you're going to use for garlic, but it's a really handy one to get down so that you can speed up your garlic chopping. The final technique I want to highlight in this series is Julian. This is the bonus. Nice cut because you don't really need to know it. But Julian are long, thin match thick like pieces, these air best for salads, flaws and sushi. And so the reason I wanted to demonstrate it here today is because you will sometimes find slaw or sushi recipes calling for this, and I wanted you to have an idea of what it looks like in action. So these air carrots, you'll notice that this is the same video I've already ready. Created those slices of carrots with a flat surface. And now all I'm doing is running my knife through the opposite way in nice, thin, even pieces to come up with those matchstick like pieces that I was talking about earlier. Perhaps you think that you still don't care about the exact shape of the items that you're gonna cut. That's cool. If you do nothing else with this tip, I hope that you'll remember that one of the most professional things you can do when you chop is to cut all of your ingredients in very similar sizes. This is done for two very practical reasons. Number one items that are cut into the same size arm or likely to cook evenly and in the same amount of time. Think diced onions and carrots versus huge chunks of onions and tiny pieces of carrots, which aren't going to cook in the same time at all. The second reason is that it's a lot more user friendly to have similar sized pieces for your diners to bite into. Have you ever been the unwitting recipient of those kale salads with huge lease and tiny pieces of nuts and other produce? It's completely unwieldy to eat and feels really hodgepodge. So whether you care about exact knife cuts or not, make sure that you cut everything evenly because that will make it cook faster and more uniformly. 6. Tip #5: So far, we've talked about having the right equipment, finding a flat surface, holding a knife and having a vision. Let's move on to tip number five, our final tip, which is ditch perfection. You know how explained earlier, the different cuts and I told you why you should care about them. Now. Forget your attachment to the exact dimensions I described. Since you're here taking the class about how to chop faster, I'm guessing you're not an award winning chef. This is great news. You know why? Because absolutely no one cares if you diced your onion into precise, quarter inch by quarter inch dimensions. Or did a model Brune wads of your carrots? No, I'm willing to bet that your friends and spouse and kids will be plenty happy. If you get a great tasting meal on the table in a timely manner, Let that be your goal. In your guide, the more time you spend trying to be exact and precise, the more likely or to get frustrated with your time spent in the kitchen or trying new recipes as long as you're using your skills to feed you and your family and friends nutritious and delicious food. You're doing it exactly right for you. The main thing is to remember to chop those things into even pieces. Forget about your attachment to exactly what it should look like and get that food cooking . 7. Conclusion: Now that we've covered all five tips on chopping faster, I want to do a quick recap. Number one have the right equipment. Remember, the main thing is that you want to have a sharp knife and a large cutting board with plenty of space number to find a flat surface. Your mantra here is I will find a flat surface. If there isn't one, I'll create it. Number three Choke up on the knife. Holding the knife closer to the blade will actually give you more control and power number four Have a vision. The biggest key to cooking vegetables evenly is cutting them to the same size. Think of what you want that size to be ahead of time so you have a vision in mind of what you're aiming for. Tip number five Ditch Perfection Let's be honest. You're probably not an award winning chef if you're here taking this course, so stop worrying about fancy cuts and perfect sizing. Remember that your only goal is to make tasty food, and chopping is just one small piece of that. So now that we've reflected on what we've learned, let's talk a little bit about the project for this class you'll see in the project section that I've linked to a salsa recipe. The goal of this project is to practice your chopping skills and apply the tips that you've learned throughout this lesson. Salsa is a great recipe to practice on because it involves finding lots of flat surfaces, chopping lots of different items evenly. And once you're done with it, it's ready to eat. So while you're making the salsa, I want you to keep a couple of things in mind. First and foremost, please remember and apply the tips that we talked about here today. I want you to pay close attention to following them and especially working safely. If chopping is new to you, it may take some time to get comfortable holding your knife and chopping different items, and there's no reason to rush along. Which is why this next item is a bonus, which is that you can time yourself while you're making the salsa recipe. It's a bonus because I don't want you to do this if you feel like it's gonna make you work on safely in the kitchen. The benefit of timing yourself is not to see how much faster you can be then everyone else who's taken this class, but instead to compare your own performance so that when you make this also this time you see what your baseline is. And then as you practice over time, you could come back to making the salsa recipe and measure it again. After making the salsa, Here's what you'll do To complete your project. Take a picture of the completed salsa and uploaded to the project section of this course in the notes. Share with us. One thing you applied well from the tips and one thing you think you could do better next time. Documenting this is a great opportunity to be able to reflect on these things as you continue to practice your chopping skills. Finally, if you did go for the bonus and time yourself share, how long it took you. So what is the goal for doing this project, and why should you do it? Most of all, it's important to apply what you learned. Chopping is a skill that you learn by practicing lots and lots and lots, and the only way you're gonna get faster and better is by doing lots of times sometimes you'll do it well. Sometimes you won't do it well, but practice is the key. And finally, the gold The project is to reflect, So I know that you're not often paying 100% attention when you're taking the time to make a meal. But this is one of the few times where I really want you to think about all of the steps that you're taking to make this salsa and reflect on what you're doing really well and what you want to do better in the future. So once you've done that, what are your next steps for taking this skill out into the world and becoming a better, faster cook? First and foremost I'm gonna say this again, is you need to practice more and more and more. The cool thing about chopping is that you can practice it in the course of actually making food for yourself. So it's a really practical skill, and the more you remember and ingrained these tips into your head, the more you'll get better at chopping over time. Secondly, I'd love it if you comment after taking this course and practicing your skills thumb and also, if you reach out to me with questions. I love helping students to figure out how they can become more comfortable, better and faster in the kitchen. And it would be by pleasure to hear from you and hear how you've applied the skills that we talked about here today. Thank you so much for taking the time to take this course. I really appreciate it. If you're interested in finding more from me, you can follow me at cooking with a full plate dot com and all of its associated social media. I look forward to seeing you on the Internet.