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…
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.
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.
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.
Problem: No matter how hard I try, my pasta sauce or stew never measures up to the restaurant two blocks…
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…
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…
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?
2 limes, juiced
70 ml fish sauce
15 g caster sugar
1/2 tsp chili powder…
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!
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…
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?
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…
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. 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…