Knife Skills by Bill Collins

This is the second book in this series that I’ve read and it is just as good as the first: well written, friendly, informative, and useful. The book covers cleaning, sharpening, techniques, types, skills, and then recipes with ingredients that require specific cutting skills and techniques.  Of course, with a book about knife skills, there is a section about carving your Thanksgiving turkey.

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The book breaks down as follows: 1) How to choose and use your knifes (chef’s, paring, utility, offset handle, scrapers, misc knives). 2) How to buy a knife (comfort and balance, where to buy, knife quality). 3) Caring for your knives (washing and storing, sharpening, cutting boards). 4) Non-knife, non-motorized, sharp kitchen tools (graters, etc.). 5) Recipes and techniques (carving a turkey, poultry, meat, and fish, fruits and vegetables, baked goods).

The books in this series are illustrated with clean line drawings. For the most part, they are easy to understand. In some ways, an illustration is better than a photograph (keeps the images optimally lit and clutter free so you get the concept easily, as with holding a knife) and in other ways, not as good (the illustrations of carving a turkey look like the meat is a giant blobbish potato). But there are a lot of the illustrations throughout, with only a few areas not having any (an occasional knife, for example).

The books come with recipes in the back that will require specific knife techniques to learn/practice. This is such a great idea, rather than just giving the knife technique, because you can practice for a practical application and don’t have to hunt down a recipe. From shelling shrimp (for shrimp pad thai), removing skin from fish (haddock with roasted root vegetables), to pitting an avocado (for guacamole), there’s a lot to like here.  And all the recipes are for easy to prepare staples and not odd nouveau cuisine that takes forever.

There are also great additional tips to keep you from hurting yourself – from putting a cloth or wet paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from slipping to the best way to hold your knife so you don’t slice a finger.

I was very pleased with this book.  Very useful and a great reference.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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