At harvest time, rather than prepare vegetables whole for the freezer, why not cut them so they are ready to use when you need them? Doing your mise en place (French for "put in place") ahead will help reduce dinner preparation time.
 
When preparing cut vegetables, it is important to keep in mind the intended uses to determine to what size you'll cut the vegetables. For example, hearty root vegetables might be best left in a larger, chunkier size, whereas more delicate vegetables such as zucchini and red peppers benefit from a smaller dice.
 
 
 
         
Mirepoix: a selection of rough-cut vegetables (e.g., carrots, celery and onions). Most often used when making meat and vegetable stocks. Since the vegetables are used as a flavoring element, accurate size and shape are less important.
 
Julienne: thinly sliced vegetable sticks, 2" to 3" long, and often 1/8" square or smaller. The julienne cut can be done with a sharp chef's knife or with a French mandoline outfitted with the 2mm or 4mm julienne attachment.
 
Brunoise: an exact and fine dice, to 1/8" square or smaller. Begin with a julienne cut and create a fine cube dice by slicing the lengths with a chef's knife.
         
 
 
         
Batons or Jardinières: matchstick lengths and thicker version of the julienne cut to about 1/4" square. The batons can be cut with a chef's knife or with a French mandoline equipped with the 7mm cutting blade.
 
Turned vegetables à l'Anglaise: firm vegetables (e.g., potatoes or rutabaga) that are trimmed to a 2" long by 1" thick barrel shape. Benefit is even cooking and elegant presentation. Use a paring knife to sculpt sections of vegetable into matching shapes.   Rubans: thin, long and broad slices, most often accomplished using a vegetable peeler or a French mandoline with the adjustable cutting blade set to the thinnest slice. Often used to add a decorative, elegant look to any salad or dish.
         
 
         
Chiffonade: thin strips often used for herbs or any leafy vegetable. Stack the leaves and roll tightly to create a cigar shape, then slice across the roll to create fine ribbons. Makes a nice decorative garnish.   Paysanne: vegetables cut into thin slices at the cross section. Root vegetables such as carrots lend themselves well to this cut. A medium-sized carrot is cut in half lengthwise then halved again into quarter lengths. Thin slicing across these lengths gives a suitable pie-shaped piece. Other paysanne shapes include squares, rough or perfect circles, and diamonds.
     
-J.H.
(09/05)
   
     

 
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