Copyright: iuliian / 123RF Stock Photo

Something Sweet!

Apple Brandied Yams

Steaming The Yams

4-5 large yams (3-4 pounds)
water as needed

Select uniform sized yams. Place them in one to two layers in a large pot. Add one inch of water. Sprinkle with salt. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Steam the yams until tender when pierced with the tip of a small sharp knife (30-45 minutes depending on their thickness). Pour off the hot water and fill the pan with cold water. While they are still warm but cool enough to handle peel them. Remove them from the water when they are cool and refrigerate them covered. They may be cooked and refrigerated a day in advance, then cut and assembled the next day.

Preparing The Sauce

1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed to a paste with 1 Tablespoon water
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup water
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup raisins

Combine the cornstarch paste, brown sugar, water, butter and raisins in a saucepan. Boil until it is thick and glossy.

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup brandy
1 cup diced green apple

Remove the sauce from the heat. Add the nutmeg, brandy, lemon juice and apples.

Assembly

The Sauce
Butter as needed

Liberally butter a 1 1/2 – 2 inch deep oval or rectangular casserole dish. Cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch thick diagonal slices. Layer the potato slices, randomly dotting them with butter and coating them with a portion of the fruited sauce. Try to distribute the raisins and apples between the layers rather than on top to keep them from scorching. Reserve enough of the sauce without fruit to spoon over the top.

Bake the yams uncovered for approximately 60 minutes at 350 degrees or until the sauce is thick and bubbling and the potatoes are hot and glazed. Baste with the sauce several times during the cooking time. This dish will hold well if prepared ahead of time. Slip it into the oven to reheat it briefly, if needed.

Chef Roast Chicken (a la Caprial & John Pence)

1 3-5 pound chicken
branches of thyme and rosemary
a few cloves of garlic
1/2 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil as needed
salt & fresh pepper

Optional:

large sliced carrots in their skin
yellow Finnish potatoes cut into thick chunks with skin
1/2-1 peeled thickly sliced onion
few garlic cloves peeled
extra virgin olive oil as needed
chunks of bread sautéed or roasted

Place tender branches of rosemary or thyme under the breast skin of the chicken. Season the body cavity with salt and pepper. Put branches of both herbs in the body. Add few cloves of garlic and the half lemon.

Place a rack in the center of a shallow roasting pan. Toss the vegetables with some oil and season with salt and pepper. Set the oiled and seasoned chicken on the rack. Arrange the vegetables at the ends of the pan. Grate fresh lemon zest over the chicken. Add a few peeled garlic cloves to the vegetables.

Roast the chicken in a preheated 450 degree oven for 1-1 1/4 hours or until done. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes or more.

Transfer all to a platter. You may also sauté or roast chunks of bread with the crust trimmed and add it to the platter.

White Micarta Linen Knife Handles

White Micarta Handles

White Micarta Handles

What is Micarta and why are they more expensive?

White Micarta handle detailsWhite Micarta is the trademark of Norplex-Micarta, and is the term often used to describe a phenolic laminate.

Although difficult to make skilled artisans impregnate layers of white linen with epoxy and press them under high pressure. The result is a stunning product that is truly a work of art.

White Micarta Handle ButtTheirs Issard has chosen to make their knives with these handles because of their beauty, elegance and resilience. White Micarta handles are more resistant to heat and moisture than regular wood and won’t fade or yellow over time.

Bon Vivant is the premier importer of these knives and we are proud to offer these amazing works for those with a taste for elegance and quality.

Your choice has the potential of becoming a treasured family heirloom.

Thiers-Issard Four-Star Elephant Sabatier Knives 8 in bread knife

8 in bread knife

Why Use a Specific Task Knife?

The right tool for the right job.

Summer is a season of specifics. Tasks that you may not do much all year come up and set you on a quest for just the right knife.

Thiers-Issard Four-Star Elephant Sabatier Knives 5 in tomato knife - green stamina

5 in tomato knife – green stamina

The tomato season can be quite short. But when it shows up, you want a sharp knife for those perfectly thick rounds of succulent ripe summer tomatoes. What an opportunity for a gift for you, friends and family. No one wants to struggle with a slick, tough skin. And as you pick each beauty from the garden or farmers market you will be ready to show them off with the help of your favorite tool, a good tomato knife.

Thiers-Issard Four-Star Elephant Sabatier Knives 5 in boning knife - red stamina

5 in boning knife – red stamina

We’re into meat with summer grilling. For prepping and trimming those ribs, chops and steaks a good boning knife becomes your best tool. Just the right length and sharpness, this knife will get you where you want to go with perfectly shaped and beautifully served meat and fish cuts for summer cooking.

Thiers-Issard Four-Star Elephant Sabatier Knives 8 in bread knife - white micarta

8 in bread knife – white micarta

And finally, a slice of thick-crusted Bruschetta on the grill needs a solid bread knife that makes short work of a thick, chewy crust. No lightweight breads for this famous appetizer. Grilled, rubbed with garlic and topped with the sliced tomatoes from your garden, with the touch of good olive oil and you are in heaven!

There is nothing like the right tool for the right job!

Fresh Halibut in Season

Halibut A La Grecque

4 5-6  ounce portions of halibut fillet skinned
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion cut in half and sliced
1 large garlic clove minced
1-2 slender zucchini quartered and cubed
 2-3 medium ripe pear tomatoes, seeded and chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1-2 Tablespoons freshly sliced basil or oregano
2 ounces fresh imported Greek feta crumbled by hand
1-2 Tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley as a garnish.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a 10  inch skillet sauté the onions in the olive oil until tender and golden.  Add the garlic and sauté until translucent.  Add the zucchini and cook until barely tender. Transfer this mixture to a bowl and cool briefly.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds and cut into a medium dice.  Add the tomatoes and fresh herbs to the bowl of cooked vegetables and toss.  Season them with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Add the feta crumbled by hand along with the herbs.

Place the halibut on a foil lined bake sheet or baking pan.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Ladle the vegetable mixture generously over the fillets.  Bake the halibut for about 15-20 minutes or until just translucent and firm to the touch.

Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

How Sharp is Sharp Enough?

What do you want your knife to be?

For some just a bit sharper than what you have. For others, a knife as sharp as a razor and equally light weight. And for a majority something better than what you have been struggling with for years, but you may not be quite sure what that is.

Our Sabatier knives have great potential to be your dream knife. A knife should feel comfortable to you. It should feel safe to you. It should be as sharp as you wish. And for some it need not be so sharp that it is intimidating, or so sharp that you are frightened to use it.

Sabatier Four Star Elephant knives are one of the few knives left in the world that are manufactured and hand finished in one location. And that location is Thiers-Issard, France. That means that each knife has been touched from the beginning by human hands. It has a quality of humanness, care, and a subtle personality that can be shaped to become your perfect knife.

“So if you like it just as it comes and that is right for you, a great goal has been reached. It has been passed lovingly from human hand to human hand.”

If you are someone like me who trusts knives and is confident around them, you may want it sharper. And for us a touch up with a good professional, one whose specialty and whose life work is “knives” is welcomed.

So I caution you: Do not give your precious knife to a “sort of” knife sharpening person. Dedicate it to someone whose life centers around remarkable knife work. Don’t take it to a grocery store to be sharpened. Don’t give it to someone who comes to your door.

Find the most caring and professional person you can, to trust with your precious knife! Someone who understands the density of the metal, the purpose of the curve and the best way to bring out the qualities you’re looking for.

And then enjoy it at its best, just the way you like it.

Louise's Knife Drawer

I Love My Knife Drawer

The right tool for the right job… but two is even better!

In an article for Great Cooks and Their Kitchens, Louise exclaimed, “You can’t chop vegetables with a screwdriver!”

As the primary teaching kitchen for her school as well as the base for many family gatherings, Louise’s kitchen is fully stocked, times two! “This is what I consider minimum for me, at least double of everything in all the colors and a few knives that represent my first choices.”

It’s no surprise that in the redesign of the Bon Vivant School of Cooking kitchen the location and the size of the knife drawer was paramount.

 Knife Drawer in Louise Hasson's Kitchen“It had to be central to the most important work counter. It had to be where I would face my students and my family. It had to be big and it had to have easy access. And finally it had to be set up in a way that protected the blades at all times.

strip-wallThe magnetic bar that you see with a band of wood to support the handle at the base is the perfect way to store knives. It can be set up in a drawer or on a wall. The key words for storing you most used kitchen tools are access and protection.”

img_4992bHer words seem to be catching on. To the left is an image of how her office manager uses a magnetic strip on the wall.

Recently, Louise received an email from her sister-in-law showing off her new knife drawer.  “It’s her favorite part of her recent kitchen remodel!”

For more about caring for your knives, you can visit our Tips page.

Go ahead, indulge yourself. Get the knives you really want and cook with all your passion!

Louise Hasson
Director, Bon Vivant School of Cooking
Owner, Great French Knives

Why should I cut things differently?

Why am I spending all this time making different cuts, slicing and dicing, and what the heck is a chiffonade?

Cutting techniques affect cook time, flavor, mouth feel and aesthetics.

When you have multiple ingredients of varying density cooking in the same dish, you want to make sure they cook evenly. Cutting denser ingredients into smaller bits and softer ones into larger, ensure that your ingredients will be perfectly cooked.

Meat sliced against the grain will be more tender; cutting vegetables on the diagonal exposes more surface area to heat and sauce; and, onions sliced pole-to-pole are less pungent than those sliced against the grain.

Thickly sliced carrots feel slick in your mouth while shredded carrots feel a little more rough. Grated items add a grainy texture while diced items have substance or even a crunch.

There’s nothing as pretty on a plate as a lovely rosette or a colorful combination of ingredients elegantly garnished. You taste with your eyes as much as your mouth and your nose. Indeed, it is the sight that starts the salivation process.

We encourage you to take the time to learn proper cutting techniques. And by the way, a chiffonade is finely sliced or shredded greens or herbs cut across the width.

When you reach for your 4 Star Sabatier Elephant Knife, we want to make sure something wonderful ends up on the plate!

Thiers-Issard Four-Star Elephant Sabatier Knives white micarta

5 pc knife set - white micarta

What Knife Should I Buy?

Why one or two, just won’t do!

My cooking students often ask me, “If I want one or two knives to handle everything, what should I buy?” For some reason, many people operate under the concept that a small knife and a large knife, or just a large knife is all one needs for the kitchen. It’s the “I like to be frugal point of view” and the “I make do” followers that cling to this. If this were wise, it makes me wonder, “Why does Sabatier have such a wide spectrum of knives?” Who needs them? Who uses them? You do. You should.

The right tool for the right job is more than just a colorful adage. And in the case of knives, one size does not fit all! Size matters! You can be penny wise and pound-foolish. You don’t always know how hard your working until you don’t have to.

You could spend an hour nibbling away at a bunch of parsley with a 4 inch knife, approaching the same batch three or four times; or, you can select the proper knife for the task and increase efficiency, speed and most importantly safety. Like an artist has and variety of paintbrushes, a good cook will have a well-rounded tool kit. We recommend a baseline knife set that has a 4 inch, 6 inch wide, 8 inch, 10 inch knife and a sharpening steel to help maintain sharpness.

I recommend that you lay out your set of knives at the head of your cutting board and choose the size that best meets the need: a 10 inch knife for a watermelon; a 3 or 4 inch knife for garlic and shallots. No “nibble” cutting! Plunge in and enjoy the expanse of the knife. Use the full blade and for most tasks concentrate on the middle to the rear of the knife for your cutting project.

Save time and energy by preparing your ingredients for the entire meal, not just one recipe at a time. Be generous with the size of the knife you use. Use it, rinse it and return it to your display so that you can come back to it at any time. Most importantly, be generous with yourself as you work. Enjoy the pleasure that a good knife in the right size can offer you. Cooking should be as enjoyable as the eating!

Louise Hasson