A few solid kitchen tips can take your meals from “weekday blah” to Pinterest-worthy wow. If you love entertaining—or would love to start—knowing how foodies get down can boost your culinary confidence big-time.
“Explore food,” advises Mark Farmer, a traveling chef for yacht parties and private flights around the world. “The more you try it, the more you want it. It’s all about the adventure.” Arm yourself with simple skills anyone can ace, and it won’t be long before you love playing chef at home.
1. Sear a Steak
Seared steak is all about temperature. Thaw your cut to 65° (or for about a half-hour). Warm a cast-iron skillet in your broiler at 500°, pat the meat dry, and cook two to four minutes per side. The Country Cabin 12-inch Skillet is broiler-safe and prevents burning juices.
2. Whip Up a Roux
Sophisticated sauces demand roux, but you can keep it easy for the world’s best mac and cheese: Whisk two tablespoons of butter with 2 1/2 tablespoons of flour in a pan. Then add cheese, milk, salt, and paprika to taste. Using refined tools like the Copper-Plated Whisk by Food Network can bring a French countryside aesthetic to your dinner parties.
3. All Hail the Chick Pea
Command the awe of everyone you know with homemade hummus in under three minutes. All you need are chick peas, olive oil, and salt. Use a wide-mouthed food processor, like the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Duo Plus, to add handfuls of fresh herbs for a gourmet, signature taste.
4. Killer Guacamole
Skip the store-bought green stuff. You’re a chef at home, remember? Simmer garlic cloves in Avocado Oil until the cloves almost burst—two minutes, tops. Smash the garlic and a few oil splashes into your freshly-mashed avocados for truly mouthwatering guac. Avocado toast, anyone?
5. Leafy Love
For roasted greens that belong in a magazine, raise the pan just over your heat source instead of sitting it directly on the burner. You’ll need a heat-proof tool, like the Silicone Oven Glove by BergHOFF Studio to keep your skin safe, but there’s a bonus: strong forearms!
6. Broth for Life
Broth is a Chinese-medicine superfood. It thickens soups, cuts high-calorie oil in sautes, and pours over most hot foods for extra nutrition. Broil bones from grass-fed animals for 15 minutes and cover with water and a little vinegar in a slow cooker. Get one with at least a seven-quart capacity, like the original Crock-Pot Countdown Slow Cooker, to simmer the bones in all day.
7. Finger-Licking Frosting
For this, you’ll just need a half-cup of butter. Two cups powdered sugar. That’s it. Angle the bowl and use a variable-speed mixer, like the 5-speed Turbo Mixer by Better Chef, for an experience as smooth as the frosting. Start off slow, gradually whipping your ingredients into a cloud. Want some creative kitchen tips to mix it up? Try experimenting with adding extracts and other flavor-enhancers. You can’t go wrong with peanut butter, chocolate, or mint.
Tapenade is basically just your favorite olives pulverized in your food processor (a basic blender like the Proctor Silex 2 Speed works well), but it elevates everything! Traditional kitchen tips would have you include capers and anchovies, but, either way, it’s one fancy condiment, made in about three minutes. Pair it with meats, smear it on toast, or plop a dollop of it next to cheese to serve with wine.
There are two ways to go with rice: fluffy or crisp. Fluffy is easy with a rice cooker, like Digital Rice Cooker by Aroma. Pour in rice and water, and, like magic, you’ll have perfect rice all week.
With more time, you can learn to make pegao on the stove. This crisped rice at the pot’s bottom isn’t a mistake in Latin kitchens, where it’s a delicacy. Just before your rice is done, flick the flame up high and see what happens. It takes a little experimentation, but it’s worth the fun to taste the texture.