Monday, February 1, 2010

The Novice Chef

You don't need a pantry full of ingredients to be a true chef. Stock your kitchen with these six staples and you'll be able to whip up simple, delicious meals in the midst of your busy life.

Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan adds richness to anything. I love it shaved over salads or simply on its own as the perfect nibble before dinner.

Add parmesan to a basic white sauce for a "slaved over the stove for hours and put a lot of thought into this meal" taste. Perfect over pasta or poultry, the equation is simple...1 T flour, 1 T butter, 1 cup milk. Combine flour and butter in a saucepan until heated through, then add milk. Bring to a boil and stir until sauce thickens....add parmesan and stir until well combined.

Lemon zest livens up everything from chicken and fish to baking! The juice is the final touch that adds depth of flavor before serving your meal. You'll have instant garnish for your plates and water glasses. I use half a lemon covered in kosher salt to scrub my cutting boards.

Besides its obvious use with olive oil in a saute pan, you can add crushed garlic to stews, soups and roasted vegetables. Cut an entire head of garlic in half and place inside a chicken before roasting (don't even bother peeling). Rub garlic over slices of baguette, drizzle with olive oil and cook under the broiler for simple garlic bread.

Chopped flat leaf parsley is the perfect garnish for any meal. I love the color, taste and thoughtfulness it adds to your efforts!

European Butter
I don't use salted butter anymore, mainly because it's a hassle to constantly buy salted and unsalted butter at the grocery store. With sweet european butter, I have what I need for sweet and savory recipes. It's a little more expensive, but worth every penny. Just to taste it melted over a piece of toast is enough to satisfy my appetite (and my soul) for the entire day! I use butter in all of my food metaphors when teaching yoga ("spread across your collar bones like a pat of melted european butter smeared over a roll"). Room temperature butter can be mixed with fresh herbs (parsley, dill, thyme) for a fresh take on buttering your bread.

Fleur de Sel
Of all the ingredients above, this is my absolute favorite! There is nothing better. Sprinkle over anything from roasted vegetables to shortbread cookies. Reserve this special salt for the final touches before serving your meal.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, if you like fleur de sel, I will take you to Cake Love next time you are in DC (On 15th and U street) to try their cupcake called "44th". Named after Obama, it is a special one... see the owner, Warren's blog about it (you have to scroll down a bit). He is our friend, he made our wedding cake, and yes, two of the layers were with caramel and fleur de sel... :)