Thursday, April 3, 2014

C is for Chiffonade and Cut-In

A good many of us foodies missed the little box or button or whatever it was that allowed us to categorize our posts this month as culinary. Bummer! Makes it harder for me to find new blogs to follow and harder for them to find me. Next year!

Now that we’re a few days into these posts, are there cooking terms/foods/techniques you wonder about? Do you have your own A-Z list of confusing words? List them in the Comments section below, and I will give you an answer on the appropriate letter day. Now, for today, C is for …

C is for Chiffonade
Chiffonade (French for “little ribbons”) is a technique for chopping green, leafy herbs and veggies into long, thin strips. I take a stack of basil or spinach leaves, roll them tightly together, and slice them into thin strips with a sharp knife crosswise.

There is a kitchen gadget (which of course I had to buy) you can roll over herbs to chiffonade them, but I have found that harder to use. The gadget takes longer than the rolling/slicing, and you sometimes end up with mashed herbs or veggies instead of separate strips. Or maybe it is my ineptitude. Whatever, I now chiffonade with my knife.

Interestingly, the chiffonade technique has also been applied to crepes or even thin omelets. But, it is not appropriate to chiffonade herbs with small, irregular leaves (like parsley).

C is for Cut In
You’re getting ready to make piecrust and the recipe says to “cut in” the shortening. Cut in is the technique for keeping that piecrust flaky instead of tough.

There are right and wrong ways to cut in shortening however. First, the shortening must be chilled but not cold. You should be able to mold it like playdough.

Second, cut the shortening into large chunks and add all at once to the dry ingredients. You can either cut in with a pastry blender (with all its sharp edges) or just use your hands to get the flour mixture loose and crumbly looking. The pieces of shortening will vary in size, and that’s the way you want it.

Do not overwork the dough (the biggest mistake people make when cutting in).


  1. I like making pies, and I agree on the cutting in--don't overwork it. I know one lady who would do it with a regular mixer. I do have a dough mixer attachment for mine, but I've never tried it. I have a son who likes birthday pies!
    History Sleuth's Writings - Blogging A-Z

    1. My husband likes birthday pies, too! It's wonderful to mix it up, isn't it? I haven't used my dough hook either. Afraid of overworking it, I suppose, but I should give it a try. Next time! lol

  2. Do you know what I use to cut-in? Two butter knives. Learned that from my foods teacher in high school! Love the blog, Sharon!

    1. Suzi, I'm glad you are enjoying this blog series. It is fun to do! I should have mentioned that technique. I probably forgot it because I never did it well. LOL I suppose someone invented the pastry blender after watching someone use the two knives. It's like lots of little knives. Thanks for stopping in. I hope you can come back.

  3. I'm familiar with cutting in but I didn't know the term chiffonade. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It's fun to think up the usual and unusual for this series! Thanks, Sarah, for coming by again. If you like recipes, by the way, check out past posts. Every February I do a "Month-of-" series. So far it's been soup, chicken, and this year was appetizers. Other recipes are scattered in among posts as well.