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When making precision cuts, it's important to use a sharp knife. Dull knives not only produce rough-looking cuts, they're also dangerous.
Let the blade do the work. If you find yourself pushing excessively hard to make a cut, your blade is too dull.
1. Square off the sides of the vegetable to make a 2-inch-long rectangular section. Save the trimmings to use in stocks or stews.
2. Slice lengthwise into ⅛-inch slabs for julienne; larger for baton. Use a sharp knife, hold it securely, and slide the blade, don't force it.
3. Stack a few slices and cut them into ⅛-inch strips for julienne; larger for baton. For even cuts, align the edges of the stack.
4. Line up the strips for dicing. Use the knife blade to tap the julienne into alignment. Cut only a few stick at a time; a larger pile may slip as you slice.
5. Cut the julienne at even intervals (⅛-inch for confetti-like brunoise). Use the hand holding the food as a guide, keeping fingertips tucked under slightly and away from the blade.
6. Uniformly cut vegetable look neat and cook evenly. Vegetables that don't slice into neat slabs, such as leeks and scallions, can simply be cut into even lengths, turned lengthwise, and sliced into ⅛-inch strips.
Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 11-13-95