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Le Cordon Bleu | Cornell Hotel School | Singapore x New York x London | Editor of Next Favorite Food.

Over the last five weeks, you’ve become comfortable with mise-en-place, seared meats, braised comforting dishes, and most recently begun roasting vegetables. Everything you’ve made has turned out better than before, despite a couple of challenges — only natural while you’re overcoming your fear of cooking, and you’re doing a fantastic job at that.

To round up your basic repertoire, you need a few finishing touches to elevate your food. This week, you’ll learn to create simple ways to finish a dish from a vinaigrette formula to elevate any salad, a sauceless garnish that elevates most meaty entrees, and a fancy…


Learn to cook vegetables, and you might realize how much you enjoy them — and your vegetarian friends will enjoy coming to your dinner parties when they’re socially acceptable again.

Why don’t more people cook vegetables at home? Do folks not know how to prepare and cook them? Have they tried and often had overcooked mush? Perhaps they never taste quite as good as the dishes they get when paying — usually too much — for a vegetable dish at a restaurant? I bet it’s a combination of those resulting in far too many wilted vegetables dumped in the trash — well, at least that shows financial responsibility.

Starting today, commit to buying and using two to three vegetables a week. Too lazy to learn how to shop for vegetables…


when things are supposed to be smooth and silky, I want them to stay that way, only to be contrasted by some intense crunchiness — here are a couple of tips to achieve the textures you crave.

I’m obsessed with the Off-Menu podcast. In the most recent episode, guest Joel Kim Booster mentions how he doesn’t care for texture in food; he’s happy to blend chicken breast to consume it quicker. While that’s mildly terrifying to me, different strokes for different folks, right? However, if you’re anything like me, texture is critical. Chewy, crunchy, firm, malleable, smooth, rough. Achieving the desired consistencies and then combining them will take your cooking to another level. After you tackled cooking with liquid last week, creating a braise that’s fall-apart tender, you‘ll want to add something crispy to your dish.

tip #10: remove skins/seeds for taste, texture & presentation

Peeling tomatoes and peppers make a massive difference — Source: Chef’s Pencil

Problem…


braises might not be the prettiest of dishes, but they’re synonymous with frugality, family-style eating, and comfort. To make them, understand how to cook with liquid, and you’ll be whipping up braises in no time.

I love making and then eating saucy, braise-y type dishes. Like barbecue, where you hand your dish over to fire, wood, and time, braises and sauces are controlled by a liquid, aromatics, and time. If you’re ever scared of playing with fire, learn how to cook with liquid, and you’ll be just fine. Cooking with liquid requires you to understand what to use and a rough idea on how to control it — that’s where this week’s tips come in.

tip #7: when a recipe calls for water, turn to stocks

Chicken Stock — Source: Food Network

Problem: No matter how hard I try, my pasta sauce or stew never measures up to the restaurant two blocks…


dealing with heat and how to avoid serving pink chicken. Hint: there’s so such thing as medium-rare chicken; that shit is dangerous.

Back in college, I learned about foodborne illnesses from our culinary arts teacher, Professor Spies (pronounced speez). After hearing the horrible things salmonella and e.coli can do, I was terrified that every meal I’d cook moving forward would in someway hospitalized someone. What I’m saying is, I get it. Working with raw protein and then managing heat to make it delicious and safe can be a lot, but you’ll manage it just fine.

Since you’re on your way to becoming a bonafide chef after seasoning your meat ahead of time and finishing up your mise-en-place, the logical next step is…


I don’t have the antidote to Mageirocophobia, but a few tips a week, and perhaps you (or that person) you know who’s overwhelmed by cooking might be ready in time to cook the New Year’s Eve meal to welcome in 2022.

In 2012, I took the culinary course that all Cornell Hotel School students take in their sophomore year, and I was terrified. Don’t get me wrong, I loved food — but I was worried about undercooking, overseasoning, prepping, being too slow, burning myself and my dish, and plenty of other improbable outcomes I made up. I did my best to skip that class and even slept through an exam to avoid it.

For everyone who’s afraid to cook, for whatever reason, I get it. I’ve been there. Now, nine years later, I have a Diplome de Cuisine from Le Cordon…


When you want a weeknight dinner that comes together quickly and tastes like it took some work, reach for this recipe.

It’s Thursday, we’re still in a pandemic. You’ve now ordered takeout seven times in two days, and it doesn’t feel that good anymore. But you still want some Thai food to get your fish sauce and peanut hit. Enter this Thai-salad based crostini to fill you up and satisfy your cravings.

If you have loads of leftovers lying about, this recipe is a great way to use up any random bits of protein or bread you might have in the fridge. Who said leftovers have to be boring?

Thai-style beef crostini — Photo by Kartik Das

Ingredients

2 limes, juiced
70 ml fish sauce
15 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder…


Cost-effective, durable, and versatile equipment that will make a difference!

You don’t need large fancy gadgets and hundreds of dollars to pimp out your kitchen. These simple staples will make prep and cooking significantly easier for less than $75. They take up minimal space on your counter or kitchen drawers, are easy to clean, and parchment paper aside, they’ll last for a long time!

Sheet Trays

I love sheet trays for mise-en-place. They are sturdy, allow you to group several ingredients on one tray for better visibility, and significantly reduce the clutter on your countertop. Imagine having just one or two trays of mise-en-place instead of six or seven smaller sized bowls…


Simple, delicious, and vegetarian. You should make it all the time, but especially for oft-overlooked vegetarian friends at a dinner party.

Here’s a flatbread that comes together in 20 minutes. You can whip it up on a casual weeknight with a glass of sauvignon blanc or at a fancy dinner party with your food-loving friends who’ve been everywhere and had everything.

If you can’t find farro, you can use pearl barley or spelt, but remember to adjust the cooking times based on what you end up using.

Did I mention that it’s mostly quite healthy too?

ricotta, fennel, apple & farro flatbread — Photo by Kartik Das

Serves 4 | ~ 15 minutes prep + 20 minutes cooking

Ingredients

flatbreads of your choosing (store-bought is fine), ready to eat
200 g ricotta
2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
nigella seeds (optional)
120 g farro grain
2 granny smith…


Everyone has their personal preference, but I know these three books will teach you to cook, arm you with recipes, and offer up flavor combinations you’d never think of.

Every chef, professional or amateur, has a set of cookbooks stashed away for emergency reference or weekday inspiration. These books range from simple to complex, cuisine based or time-focused, holiday-themed or centered around healthy eating.

There are thousands of cookbooks in circulation, it can a lot to process — Photo by SeriousEats

There are thousands of cookbooks in circulation. But for newbies starting their culinary adventures, trying to figure out where to start can be confusing, overwhelming, and paralyzing. And in a time where everyone is so easily distracted by the next shiny thing, focusing on three essential cookbooks to take your cooking to another level might be a welcome reprieve.

If you’re a professional, you’ll know…

Kartik Das

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