While everyone is cooking more at home now, ambitious home chefs are seeking to boost their skills, taking their culinary creations to the next level. If you’re one of them, a new video series featuring Mark Bittman, author of “How to Cook Everything,” provides an exciting new resource.
Over the next few months, the “Cooking in Your True to Food Kitchen” series will explore a range of cooking modalities and doable gourmet recipes, offering today’s “Technicurean” home chefs inspiration for elevating everyday fare.
Bittman partners with executive chef Nick Ritchie from Signature Kitchen Suite’s Experience & Design Center in culinary-centric Napa Valley, Calif., to showcase delicious, healthy recipes that bring restaurant-quality meals right into your home.
Pro cooking tips
Here are some of Bittman’s tips to consider when cooking:
- Practice! I always tell people that if you want to be a better cook, you’ve got to keep at it. The more you do it, the more recipes you try, the more you explore, the better you will become. Every time you cook, you’ll learn something news. Plain and simple.
- Keep a stocked pantry: My advice is to think about the cuisines you really love and start building those flavor profiles so they are at the ready when it’s time to get cooking.
- When you saute or simmer something moist — like vegetables, beans, or sauces — lay a protein on top (fish, chicken, or eggs), cover with a lid and let the steam naturally cook that upper layer. For instance, for a fast Eggs Florentine, steam eggs on top of the spinach rather than poaching separately.
- Be efficient with your prep time: Put all the produce together in a colander and rinse under cold water. If you have a large amount, wash in batches, putting what’s done on towels. During downtime while cooking, wash vegetables used toward the end of a recipe. Rinse foods like carrots and cabbage after they’ve been trimmed or peeled.
- It’s OK to take short cuts: For example, only brown meat on one side. If you’re making a stew or braise that requires browning meat, just brown it really well on one side (rather than turning it to brown every surface). The point is to develop flavor, and one nicely caramelized side is usually sufficient.
- Approach veggies differently: Instead of roasting winter veggies, eat them raw. Squash, beets, parsnips, and celery root make great salads and slaws. Since root vegetables are sturdy, grate them. If they’re still too crispy for comfort, marinate them for a half hour or longer in a vinaigrette.
Next, try out one of Bittman’s signature recipes, featured in the first video of the series.
Herb Seasoned Fish
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
1 tablespoon minced onion (or garlic, ginger, shallots, scallions or lemongrass)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (like parsley, basil, tarragon, rosemary, chives, marjoram or sage — use smaller amount for stronger herbs)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
About 1 1/2 pounds large fish fillets (monkfish, halibut or tuna)
1 cup chicken, fish or vegetable stock (more if needed)
Heat oven to 450 F.
Mix herbs with salt and pepper.
Heat large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat about 2 minutes; add olive oil.
When it’s good and hot, dredge fish in the herb mixture. Brown for couple minutes on both sides.
Add liquid to pan and put uncovered in oven.
Roast until fish is tender, 20-30 minutes, turning once or twice (1-inch thick steaks of most fish will take 5-10 minutes less).
Regardless of thickness, fillet will still be firm and juicy when done but will be opaque inside; a thin-bladed knife will pass through fairly easily.
To make “five-minute drizzle sauce,” put oil or butter in saucepan over medium heat.
When oil is warm or butter is melted, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (turn heat down if it starts to color), 1-2 minutes.
Stir in 2 tablespoons water and lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper; maintain heat so it bubbles gently for 1-2 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Transfer fish to warm platter. If pan juices are thin, reduce a bit; if they’re too thick, add a little more stock and cook over medium heat for a minute or two. Serve fish with drizzle sauce spooned over it.
Upgrade your kitchen to boost your results
To make recipes shine, Bittman advises at-home chefs to upgrade the tools and equipment — especially appliances and other must-haves they use every day. He recommends today’s ultra-versatile appliances, like those from Signature Kitchen Suite, which feature multiple modalities — from steam and gas to induction and even industry-first sous vide built right into the cooktop — to deliver elevated creations and make your cooking experience easier and more successful, night after night. The investment in pro-quality equipment leads to better results, wherever you are in your culinary journey, according to Bittman.