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Essential knife skills

The first step in becoming a confident home cook is to master your knife skills. These foundation skills are essential to making your weekly dishes even easier as we travel across the globe from our kitchens. 

Slicing and dicing onions

No matter where you travel, the humble onion is a the cornerstone of our favourite cuisines. Used in everything from salads for a refreshing crunch or in stocks to give a mellow sweetness, it truly does it all. Now you just need to know how to cut it. 

A diced onion is best used in sauces and marinades. You want an even and consistent shape so that it all cooks down at the same rate.

Thicker slices are better for salads and stir fry. You want all that extra surface area to be coated in whatever dressing or curry paste you are using. 

Bonus Atlas Hack: use the left-over cuttings and skin for stocks and broths!


Preparing avocados

Sure, avocados are wonderfully messy and beautiful when smashed on toast with feta and various herbs. But every now and then, a dish calls for perfectly thin slices, gently splayed across the top with a delicate drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt. 

The trick is to cut the avocado in half, remove the seed with your knife (carefully!)  and remove the skin with your fingers. Make sure the fruit is ripe, or this step will be very tricky. Then cut down on the avocado with even pressure, using your fingers as a guide. Your knife should be on a slight downward angle as you cut, for a nice and smooth slicing motion.


De-seeding a cucumber

To get that extra crunch from your cucumber, you must first remove the seeds. We suggest either using a spoon to simply scoop them all out, or just gently run your knife through the seedy core. 

Left with just the crisp shell, it can be chopped for salads or finely diced for tzakziki. Don't worry about the waste, the seeds can be frozen and make for a tasty addition to a green juice.

 

 

Julienne a carrot
It sounds fancy and maybe a little intimidating but learning how to julienne a carrot is easier than you think and your ticket to making any dish look restaurant ready! Master this technique and you will be rewarded with perfect matchstick-sized pieces which can be used in a mix of stir-fries, salads and sautés. It can be broken down into three simple steps:
  1. Trim and cut the carrot into manageable chunks. The size of your carrot and how big you want your matchsticks to be will determine how many times you want to cut it. Strictly speaking the perfect julienne should be 1.5cm long (but we’re not measuring!).
  2. Cut off the side of the carrot to create a flat surface, so you can cut even planks, roughly 5mm thick. As long as they’re even, the exact thickness doesn’t matter too much.
  3. Stack the planks, about 3 high so it’s nice and manageable. Again, trim off the ends and then continue to cut lengthways along the carrot, using your finger as a guide, to create matchsticks about 5mm wide. And voila, the perfect julienne carrot to show off in your next culinary masterpiece. 

 

Dice a capsicum
The irregular shapes of capsicums tend to look a little rough and ready when chopped through dishes. This technique will give you neat, even dice to use in salads and marinades. 
First, with the capsicum standing upright cut off for cheeks from around the core, avoiding the seeds. 
You then want to remove as much excess pith as possible, by very carefully running the blade of your knife flat along the inside of the cheek. You should now have a nice flat surface to work with, to cut even matchsticks which you will then cut into dice. 
Cutting spring onion on the diagonal
When properly presented, spring onions are a delicate addition to a dish. Whether they’re tossed through a salad or simply served on top of silken tofu, they provide an acidic crunch and distinct freshness to brighten your dish. 
We prefer a neat diagonal cut for a crispy look - leave in cold water after cutting for extra crunchiness and to give them a nice curl.