If You're an At-Home Chef
If you haven’t been following along, I’ve been writing about my tips for every type of kitchen-dweller.
This note is for my at-home kitchen chefs!
This type of kitchen job is probably one of my favorites because I, myself, am an at-home chef. Considering the amount of tools and ingredients we home chef’s use – from microplanes to mandolins – I like to make it as simple and convenient as possible when it comes to making that perfect risotto or the family-favorite salmon. Weeknight or family occasion meals don’t have to be overwhelming, as long as you’re prepared. Here are some ways I stay ready for just about any at-home cooking opportunity!
KEEP STAPLES STOCKED
As I mentioned in my last post, keeping a variety of staple foods in your fridge, pantry and on your countertop, will make creating fresh and delicious at-home meals much easier. Having these versatile ‘basics’ ready at hand (think: onions, garlic, root vegetables, eggs, milk, aromatics and herbs) opens up the options of what you’ll be able to make.
Having an inventory of dry goods always stored in the pantry also makes for an easier time when figuring out meal plans. I like to keep a variety of dry pastas, rice and other grains, and beans stocked in a similar area on a shelf. Things like black beans, brown rice and other hearty grains can be bought in bulk at your local health food market and stored in clear, sealable containers for an extended period of time, making them an ideal item to stock-up on.
HAVE TOOLS HANDY
Anyone who has ever cooked a recipe or two knows how fun it can be to find your ‘flow’ – that feeling when everything is going as planned and you’re multitasking like a pro. Conversely, you may know how inconvenient it can be when you have to stop what you’re doing in order to search high and low for a specific cooking utensil. Doing this can often throw off your whole rhythm – or worse – let something overcook.
To avoid this, I like to have a designated place for all of my kitchen tools, utensils and appliances. I have a drawer dedicated solely to what I like to call “gadgets”, as well as one right near the stove for stir spoons, spatulas, whisks and other need-it-now cooking utensils. I keep two kinds of spatulas - one for savory and one for baking (in different areas of the kitchen, of course). I do not like to mix desserts with spatulas that have been mixing highly-seasoned things like garlic or cumin. Things like graters, microplanes and cheese slicers can also be stored together in a place near the stove for quick zesting, garnishing or adding to a recipe while whipping up something delicious.
I also like the idea of keeping similar electrical appliances stored together: blenders and food processors can commingle in a lower cabinet, while mixers and immersion blenders can be stored together in another drawer.
Unless you’re a complete whiz and can come up with unique meal creations at the drop of a hat, most of us need a recipe to follow every once in a while. I, myself, have a few classics stored in my head that can be used when needed, but it’s always fun to try something new, either from a favorite recipe book (like Pamela’s), or simply by searching the ever-abundant internet!
Whether you prefer the ‘old-fashioned’ route of using a book to reference your recipe, or using the world wide web to guide your meal prep, having a recipe-stand to prop up your book or tablet and keep it open to the right page makes all the difference. Nobody wants to spot-up a beautiful cookbook or smear your smart device screen with messy fingers when in the middle of making! I have a beautiful lucite stand with my monogram on it, a gift from my favorite two girls, Erica and Emma. West Elm also carries a beautiful marble cookbook stand that works for both, even featuring a handy charging port at the bottom!
What are some of your favorite recipes to make at home?