People are always asking me about my recipes, how I make them, how I make everything taste so CHEFFY.
Well, it’s actually just a few little tricks that you’ll see in pro kitchens ALL THE TIME, but not as much in the home kitchen.
Here is my short list of how to many any recipe taste more professional!
– Use fresh herbs. Most home cooks rely on dried herbs and the difference is pronounced when you simply use a fresh herb rather than a dried one. Both have places in cooking: the dried herbs are generally more intense and work best when put in early in the dish so they get some cook time; the fresh herbs are generally more bright and fresh and work best when added at the end of a dish, so as not to cook out the flavor. Even adding a little freshly chopped Italian flat leaf parsley can make a meh dish come alive. Try it!
– Use more citrus. I’ll qualify this one by saying that Americans don’t use enough citrus. Most non-European, warm places use citrus liberally, mainly because it’s grown there. Try adding some lemon or lime zest to your next veg dish. You can add zest midway through cooking, but don’t add juice until the cooking is done or it will turn bitter on you. You’ll even start to find places where you prefer one citrus over another when you start using it regularly.
– I’ve said this before, but it’s still an issue I see a lot: season your food as you cook it. Salt is not evil. Salt is necessary for life and necessary to bring out the flavor of foods. Even bakers put just a little salt in sweets to bring out the sweet! Season the parts of a dish as you cook it, and check for seasoning once the dish is combined and/or done. Also be aware that potatoes suck up salt and you’ll need a LOT more than you think! Also, refrigeration will change your seasoning levels, so if you’re making a cold dip, check the seasoning before you serve it.
– Toast your bread and char your tortillas! When serving bread with dips, always toast it. Same for sandwiches. It seems like a small thing, but it gives more texture. I always put tortillas over a gas burner to give a little char to them. When I say char, I don’t mean burn them, I mean, just little bits of color with a touch of actual char. It definitely matters to toast tortillas. Even if you put them in a pan, just get them cooked!
– Roast your veggies! Roasting is my #1 goto for vegetable prep. It concentrates the flavours and is another restaurant trick. I make roasted veg for many recipes that don’t call for it, such as caponata. My caponata is SO flavorful because I roast the veg rather than simply sauté in pan. If you’ve never had a roasted beet or brussels sprout, I encourage you to try them! Totally different veg than boiled, I assure you.
It’s been my experience that many MANY foods that people tell me they dislike is actually due to the preparation. I feed people things they think they hate OFTEN. I take it as a personal challenge to get people out of their preconceptions and comfort zones with food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve served something (usually a vegetable) to someone who ate it all, then they tell me that they’ve never liked [insert veg], but now they do! So, go back to the veg you think you dislike and try it again prepared in a different way. You just might surprise yourself!
That’s it! These things will make a big difference in your recipes! Give them a go and feel free to let me know how it goes!