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The Mandoline

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We viewed the mandoline as a somewhat exotic kitchen tool, designated for professionals only. Fortunately for us, when we unwrapped a holiday gift, we found a mandoline.

Looking at the mandoline with its sharp blade was not love at first sight, but it has become an enduring love. A mandoline is never listed in articles stating cookware essentials, but we find it the perfect gourmet tool - at least one that makes the presentation of food more elegant and that in itself makes us appear to be better cooks.  Perhaps we are. And when in a hurry, the few seconds it takes to use the mandoline turns a last-minute meal into beauty.

If you have never worked with a mandoline, you haven't experienced the ecstasy of evenly cut, julienned vegetables. If that seems only for a professional chef, remember what the Japanese say, that the first taste is taken by the eye.

 

With a mandoline you will have perfectly cut fries, elegant matchstick carrots and julienned zucchini.  If you are making a potato gratin, you will be assured of even cooking when that mandoline cuts uniform potato slices.  Garnishes will look professional, and if you like to stir-fry, those matchstick slices will cook rapidly.

Mandoline Safety

An instrument that can work with such perfection is one of extreme sharpness and demands that you give heed to its blades.  Be sure your work surface is comfortable - no reaching too high or too low. A hand guard comes with the mandoline.  Use it.  Primarily you need the guard when you are reaching the end of slicing and are holding a small piece  of food in your hand.  From experience we can tell you that it is easy to wait too long to pick up the hand guard.  Please do not wait as this is not like a mildly scraped knuckle that you can get from a grater.  The mandoline has a very sharp blade.   We used ours all the time as we adjusted to it, even when it didn't appear that we needed it. 

Then smoothly and fluidly, gently rock the food back and forth across the mandoline blade.  Fall into the rhythm - it's a pleasant motion. And the key word is gentle - do not press hard, as the mandoline will do the work.

There are many varieties of the mandoline.  A professional quality one can be purchased in a wide range of prices.  Many have a dial to select the thickness of the slices you prefer. Handles protect the hand and help you grip.

You can also find less expensive ones that look like a grater and need to be hand held.  These mandolines work as effectively as the more expensive, but require a little more vigilance. 

Care of the Mandoline

Please wash your mandoline by hand.  Though many are dishwasher safe, a gentle (that word again) wash by hand will protect the mandoline.  An old toothbrush will take care of tiny crevices.

Now - enjoy those finely julienned carrots, the thinnest slices of cucumber.  Enjoy the oohs and ahhs that you will hear from the people assembled at the table.  Indispensable.  You, too, will fall in love with the mandoline.

 

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