What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen

  • 2021-07-25, 04:49 AM
  • Kelli Kelly
What’s Cooking in Kelli’s Kitchen

There’s one thing that I am absolutely certain about in this life (aside from death & taxes) and that is that if you play with knives, one day you will get cut.  It is just bound to happen.  You will be chopping herbs, your concentration will slip just a little bit, and you will end up slicing into a finger.  Or maybe you threw away the silly guard that comes with a mandolin and in your quest to slice up the whole cucumber, you end up slicing the palm of your hand.  Now I could caution that cooking involves a bevy of instruments and tools that are dangerous, I could lecture you about making sure you are centered, focused, and not to let your concentration waver, even for the slightest second.  But frankly, I would be wasting my breath. If you do this long enough, it will happen.  So, let’s talk about what to do when the moment arrives.

First - my legal disclaimer - I am not a medical professional. 

I have cut myself, memorably, on four occasions.  There might have been a few more nicks and scratches and there have certainly been more burns than I can count.  In a commercial kitchen, burns happen with regularity. I can always spot a line cook by the sheet pan burns on their forearms.  Cuts, however, are not nearly as ubiquitous and you will be judged by how well you handle the situation.  So here are my recommendations:

Don’t panic - the last thing anyone wants is to have to clean up a bunch of blood that you have scattered around the kitchen because you freaked out. Set down your knife or other sharp implements, put direct pressure on your cut, and head to the sink.

Rinse - give your cut a thorough rinse under cool water.  This is a good time to inspect the damage. Did you cut into the meat of your fingertip? Is it just a scratch?

Apply pressure - grab a clean, dry, sacrificial towel and apply pressure to your cut.  If there is a flap of skin, hold it down.

Assess - don’t be afraid to go to the emergency room.  The skilled medical professionals in the ER have all sorts of tools at their disposal that can help your cut heal faster and more completely.  If the cut is not that significant, you likely have what you need in your medicine cabinet.

As you may have guessed I cut myself this week. This was cut of consequence number four in the 21 years since I took up cooking as a job.  I was chopping cilantro and then I chopped my middle finger.  It was a pretty good cut. My knives are sharp, and I was chopping with intent.  Thankfully, my husband was available to give me a ride to Banner for a visit to the emergency room. I did not ask him to stay for three reasons. First, my emergency was pretty basic, assuredly not life-threatening, so I was not in dire need of moral support. Second, he hates hospitals and would have to wear a mask. Third and maybe the most important was the Cubs were playing. All of which is not to say he wouldn’t have put on a mask and missed the game if I’d really needed him.

Two hours later, my finger was properly numb, solidly stitched, and I was on my way home.  I walked in the door and went right back to chopping herbs. Dinner wasn’t going to make itself and I am a professional.

I want to thank the doctors, nurses, PAs, and the rest of the staff who work in emergency medicine at Banner. The ER was amazing (I haven’t been in since the remodel), everyone I talked to was friendly, supportive, and professional.  And I give them a solid 5-star rating on Yelp.

Here’s what I was cooking when this mishap took place:


Lamb Patties with Fried Onions and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce

By David Tanis




1 pound ground lamb

 Kosher salt and black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup finely chopped scallions, white and green parts

¼ cup chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped mint

½ teaspoon minced garlic (2 garlic cloves)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

1 large onion, sliced into 1/4-inch half-moons

 Pita or other flatbread, for serving (optional)



3 tablespoons tahini

3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 medium lemon)

2 large garlic cloves, finely grated

 Pinch of ground cayenne

1 ½ cups plain whole-milk yogurt

 Kosher salt




Put the lamb in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, some black pepper, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, scallions, cilantro, mint, and garlic. Mix well with wet hands, kneading the mixture to distribute seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour so the seasoning penetrates. (Alternatively, season meat and refrigerate overnight.)

Make the sauce: In a small bowl, put tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and cayenne. Stir well to dissolve the tahini. Then stir in yogurt and mix well. Taste. Add salt if needed. Heat olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-high. When oil is wavy, add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are crisp and well browned, edging toward burned, about 10 to 12 minutes. Lower heat if browning too quickly. Add a little more oil if the pan looks dry. Season lightly with salt. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

Light a charcoal grill for a medium-hot bed of coals. (Alternatively, use a medium-hot gas or electric grill, a cast-iron pan or griddle, or a broiler.)

With wet hands, knead lamb mixture once more, then form into 4 (8-ounce) oval patties (or 6 5-ounce patties), about 1-inch thick. Set aside until the fire is ready. Place the grill about 1 inch from the coals.

Cook patties about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, 130 degrees. After flipping, cook until red juices appear on the top of the patties. For medium, 140 degrees, cook longer, about 5 minutes per side. In either case, let them rest on a warm plate for 5 minutes before serving, to keep in juices. They will continue cooking a bit as they rest.

Top each burger with fried onions. Serve with tahini-yogurt sauce and warm pita, if desired.


Kelli Kelly



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