Knife Skills Spotlight: The One Cut Every Cook Should Know

Knife skills are one of the most essential topics chefs learn in culinary school—and for good reason. Cutting vegetables, fruit and meat properly and in uniform pieces doesn’t only provide visual appeal. It ensures even cooking when all the pieces of food are the same size, and it evenly distributes flavor and texture throughout.

One of the most commonly used cuts is the dice. And if you’re going to learn just one knife skill for cooking at home, dicing should be it! Let’s break down the different types of dice and how to use them.

The 3 Types of Dice

There are three types of dice: small, medium and large. These are different from a rough chop, which is more of a casual cut. Rough chop suggests that each piece should be “roughly” the same size, whereas as dicing is more precise.

Small dice are often used for onions, when you want the flavors to meld into the dish, as opposed to yielding large chunks. Soup is a prime example. The onion should seamlessly fold into the broth, so it doesn’t overpower it. A medium or large dice would work best for roasting vegetables, as the pieces often shrink in the oven. Roasting small diced vegetables puts them at risk for burning.

How to Dice: A Step-By-Step Guide

We recommend using something easy to practice dicing, such as a potato. Save the softer produce like tomatoes for later. Also, be sure to keep the final size in mind from the start (steps 2 and 3). You can review measurements below.

  1. Cut the vegetable into a rectangular shape. If this is too time consuming, go ahead and skip to step 2.
  2. Cut the vegetable into slices.
  3. Cut each slice into sticks.
  4. Cut each stick into cubes, according to dice size:
    • Small: cut cubes approximately ¼ inch thick
    • Medium: cut cubes approximately ½ inch thick
    • Large: cut cubes approximately ¾ inch thick

Tip: A small ruler is a great kitchen tool to have on hand as you’re learning. Once you have it down, you’ll be able to eyeball it.

Here’s a good, quick video guide for cutting medium dice. You can use this for all cuts by tweaking the measurements accordingly.

As with all knife skills, dicing becomes easier and faster with time and practice. Mastering the dice technique will allow you to cook more aesthetically-pleasing food that’s uniformly cooked all the way through.

While you’re perfecting your knife skills, why not take a cooking class to learn even more and enjoy the experience with friends? The Austin Artisan offers interactive cooking classes for all levels. Check out our options here.

Cook Yourself Healthy This Year!

Happy New Year! I’m excited to welcome 2017, and I hope you are too.

Every January, we’re always encouraged to create resolutions. We make strategic (or non-strategic) goals for ourselves and try our best to stay interested enough to reach them. And that’s usually the issue, right? Our resolutions are enveloped in routines and tasks that simply don’t bring us joy. Losing weight means munching on carrots all day. Getting to the gym means mindless exercises until our 60 minutes is up—and so on. But what if I told you reaching your health goals could not only be fun, but also delicious and entertaining? Would I have your attention?

Most people vow to shed the extra weight and feel better in their bodies. While major diets insist on some form of deprivation, I think cooking is better. I mean, you can only survive on celery sticks, turkey slices and water for so long.

The truth is, many of us pack on the pounds, because we rely on fast food, packaged meals and takeout to provide our primary sustenance. Unfortunately, you’re going to find that these options are full of empty calories, unsavory ingredients and large portions. It’s not easy to stay fit when your fuel is hurting you instead of serving you.

Here’s the solution…

Cook yourself healthy with our top 10 list!

When we create our clients’ meals, we think about how to design the plate so it’s visually stunning, full of flavor and rich in nutrients. These are our best tips for redefining your plate and dining experience:

  1. Make your own meals using local, quality ingredients.
  2. Keep the recipes simple and exciting so you don’t get overwhelmed or bored.
  3. Be sure that your meal is full of color (in other words, lots of veggies).
  4. Prepare a perfect protein to maintain your energy.
  5. Add whole grains or starchy vegetables if you like to feel grounded.
  6. Top it all off with sauces, pestos and slaws to accent each dish.
  7. Style your food as opposed to slopping it on your plate, and add a delicate garnish, such as chopped parsley. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!
  8. Keep portions moderate, and save leftovers for lunch.
  9. Enjoy every bite. The problem with diets is that people force themselves to eat foods they don’t actually like. Find what you love and savor it.
  10. Eat slowly to prevent overeating, and consider a gratitude statement before you begin. (It’s nice to thank yourself for making an awesome meal!)

Can’t make toast? Book a cooking class with one of our Artisans!

Plan your own cooking class, demonstration or challenge, and we’ll open your mind and palate to new skills and ideas. We’ll teach you how to chop, sear, blanch, plate and garnish. We can also show you how to prepare a certain style of cuisine or your favorite takeout (with a healthy twist). There’s really no limit on what you can learn from our Austin-based experts.   

Cooking is truly the best way to achieve your health goals, and have fun while doing it. We love to entertain, so get ready for a fun night with friends, family or colleagues. Contact us to get started! 

Austin’s Ultimate Cooking Competitions: We Want You!

Are you ready to rumble… in the kitchen? You know and love all the cooking-show challenges. Master Chef, Top Chef, Iron Chef, Chopped—you’re completely obsessed. So why not join the fun? If you’ve ever sat on the couch and thought, “I want to do that,” now you can.

Our Ultimate Cooking Competitions are designed for the team that wants to play for ultimate bragging rights. If you’re concerned about experience, have no fear. These events are perfect for cooks at every level. Plus, we specialize in hosting corporate groups. All you have to do is enlist your co-workers, colleagues or friends. Then, get set for an epic food fight!

How It Works:

  1. Select your showdown style: mystery basket, featured ingredient or stocked pantry. You’ll have the opportunity to create a challenge that’s unique and thrilling. We’ll also be sure to ask about your food preferences and allergies before organizing the event.
  2. Devise and execute a game-winning dish. Plan your idea, gather your ingredients and get cooking! But don’t worry if you’re completely stumped. One of our Artisans will be there to help you along.
  3. Enter the judgment round! Serve up your dish and see how it fares with the competition. Will you savor the essence of success or face the disgust of defeat?

Win or lose, everyone will have the chance to sample each other’s dishes, learn tips and tricks from our expert chef and engage in a little friendly competition. Okay, so maybe everyone wins.

It’s a truly unforgettable experience that brings teams and friends together. Forget about treating your employees to afternoon cake in the break room or happy hour at the local dive bar. Instead, introduce them to Austin’s most exciting fine dining throwdown.

The next time you watch your favorite competitive cooking show don’t forget to take notes—because you’re next!

Take the Challenge: Contact us to learn more about The Austin Artisan’s Ultimate Cooking Competitions, and to book your event.

Grab A Front Row Seat

Have you ever watched a show on the Cooking Channel and wished you had a front row seat? How amazing would it be to see professional chefs chop, sauté and create a masterpiece right before your eyes? Better yet, how satisfying would it be if you could smell and taste each handcrafted offering?

The Austin Artisans are making this dream a reality. New to our culinary services, Private Cooking Demonstrations offer you an opportunity to get up-close and personal with our master chefs. You get to watch them prepare a tailor-made menu, and sample each exquisitely executed dish. Along the way our chef will share tips, tricks and techniques, as well as our best-kept secrets. And yes, we encourage you to try them at home!

Private Cooking Demonstrations are perfect for:

  • Corporate clients
  • Team building
  • Holiday parties
  • Employee appreciation

They’re also great for foodie friends looking to satiate their craving for new culinary adventures. Or, Austin visitors interested in tasting some of the best local cuisine.

We pride ourselves on providing you and your guests with an unforgettable experience. Not only are we brimming with personality, but our ambiance is impeccable. We cook in a state-of-the-art facility, featuring modern appliances and equipment. (Don’t blame us if you decide to remodel your own kitchen!)

The bites? Well, we know a thing or two about fine dining. We source high-quality ingredients with sustainability top of mind. Focusing on local, seasonal and fresh fare, we’ll excite your palate from beginning to end.

Want in? We’re filling up fast! With the holidays right around the corner, we encourage you to contact us ASAP to book your Private Cooking Demonstration . Then, let us take care of the rest. It’s the most delicious—and stress-free—way to celebrate a year’s worth of hard work. Come on, you deserve this!