How To Cook Like A Pro

this is usually how I act in the kitchen 

I couldn’t tell you how many comments I’ve received from readers wanting to pick my brain about all the pro chef tips I’ve picked up working in a kitchen. 

Wait, yes I could. Zero. That has never happened to me. 

But I like to do what I want around here, and I thought a post like that would be fun. As w/ all the advice I give, these opinions are just my own experiences and in no way should be viewed as pro chef tips from someone working in a kitchen. 

Season liberally
You know when you’re eating something simple in a restaurant, like scrambled eggs or roasted vegetables, and think this is the most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten in my entire life? That’s b/c the cook has seasoned the fuck out of those eggs and veggies. Most people at home are hesitant to use a lot of salt b/c they think it will make the food taste salty. I’m here to tell you that it won’t. Salt enhances the flavor of food. Unless you’re making something especially briny, heavy on the olives or anchovies, don’t be afraid to use salt. 

Read through the recipe first
This commons sense tip can save a lot of undue stress and mess. You might make it to the end of a recipe and it’s like okay, final step, bring water to boil and add octopus and you’re like, wtf I thought I was making apple pie. Not that this has ever happened to anyone, but I’m saying it could. Particularly w/ sugar work and whipping egg whites to volume, those things are time sensitive and you need to be ready to go when temperatures and volumes are reached b/c they wait for no one. Even when you’re making simpler things like stews or casseroles, it’s a good idea to read through the recipe, make sure you have the necessary ingredients and tools, and confirm there is no hidden octopus step.

Recipes aren’t infallible 
You found an awesome eggs benny recipe on the internet? Score! Wait, it calls for over-easy eggs and store bought hollandaise? Anyone can put a recipe on the internet. Like the mom who is a great cook but her baby just started fussing and she needs to post this recipe ASAP so she forgets the entire ingredient list. I’ve definitely seen recipes that are missing ingredients or instructions or that fact that you’ll need non humid conditions, so thanks for posting a recipe for baked meringues in the middle of summer, jerk. Even if the author didn’t forget anything, sometimes you just end up w/ a lemon. That’s why it’s smart to read it through first and realize this eggs benny you’re about to make is ghetto as fuck. 

Substitutions can be made (even in baking) (sometimes) 
I know BAKING IS A SCIENCE but I’m here to tell you that you can make swaps and still have delicious results. Plain yogurt (Greek or regular are both fine), crème fraiche, and sour cream are all things I use pretty interchangeably, depending on what’s in the walk-in. Work w/ what you have; you don’t have to run out and buy something b/c you need a quarter cup of it in one recipe you’re going to make one time. I’m not advising subbing baking powder for baking soda or anything ludacris like that, b/c for the most part, you can’t swap ingredients like that in baking. Cooking is much more forgiving; adjust to your palate and don’t freak out if you’re short a tablespoon of olive oil. 

Food prep is everything
If I was organized and had my shit together, I’d spend my Sundays food prepping and humblebragging about it like every other blogger. I’d pull out my premade side dishes and Tupperware of chopped veggies and pre-portioned meat and have dinner on the table in twenty minutes. As it stands, I do my grocery shopping on Sunday and reward myself for this basic adult behavior by eating out for the rest of the week. If you’ve been eyeing a recipe but haven’t made it yet b/c you think it’s too intimidating, food prep is probably the answer. Chop the ingredients, make the pie dough, prepare the sauce ahead of time; prep anything that can be prepped. Breaking a recipe down into smaller more manageable steps goes a long way and you’ll be making that beef wellington before you know it.

Use the right tool for the job
Many a mistake can be avoided simply by reaching for the appropriate knife/pot/pan/utensil. Don’t mince garlic w/ a paring knife. Don’t boil water for pasta in a pot smaller than your head. Don’t use a liquor bottle as a rolling pin. If you’re in a pinch, sure, there are kitchen hacks for almost everything. But if it’s a recipe you’re going to keep coming back to, do yourself a favor and buy the rolling pin/immersion blender/mandolin.     


Stephanie said…
I cannot live without food prep. I really would eat out every day of the week if I didn't prep on Sundays. Damn you Grubhub, you make it so easy.
Brigid said…
@Steph: your food prep skills make me hang my head in shame. Ideally, I wouldn't allow any food in my fridge until it is prepped and ready to go, but IRL I'm lazy and it doesn't happen. How do you do this?!?!