Cooking Tips from Restaurant Chefs!

May 26, 2020

Doing a little-more-than-usual cooking lately? So are we! That’s why we searched high and low for cooking tips from restaurant chefs to make the experience more enjoyable and with the best-tasting results! We found products that make your life easier, the secret for keeping veggies and herbs fresher longer, secret ingredients for sauces and other insider techniques every home chef needs to know!

Tools You Can Use

Even if you’re not the next Gordon Ramsay, aren’t you curious what kind of cookware he favors? Professional chefs like Ramsay recommend using cast iron, copper and carbon steel pans. Wanna know why? Carbon steel contains 99 iron and chefs like iron, mostly because it holds and distributes heat so well — browning meat better and cooking vegetables faster. The key to cast iron is “seasoning” the cookware so it’s sealed and foods don’t stick, and Southern Living shows you how. 

You know enough to keep your skillet seasoned and your knives sharp and, but you also need to develop the kind of skills that keep your fingers in one piece, and your palm intact. If you’ve ever watched a cooking show, you know to tuck your fingers back and let your knuckles guide the flat part of your knife. But if you want thinly sliced vegetables for whatever you’re making – like zucchini or squash or onions — you can’t beat a mandolin – or one of these hand-held tools by Good Grips. You don’t have to be a pro to slice like one! 

For more pro tools and cookware tips, check out Take Back Your Table’s list of pans, skillets, sauce pans, pressure cookers and woks!

Keeping It Fresh

To cook every day or several times a week, you need a well-stocked fridge and fewer trips to the grocery store – because let’s face it, that can be a stress adventure in itself! Once you bring them home, there are veggies you shouldn’t refrigerate (here’s the list) from Bon Appétit. And for the veggies you do store in the fridge, a few rules of thumb.

A little moisture goes a long way so store your produce dry. Never wash blueberries, grapes or fragile raspberries until just before you eat them – their thin skin soaks up liquid and makes them more prone to spoiling. The three berries you SHOULD wash right away are strawberries, blackberries and backyard berries like huckleberries and mulberries.

Too much moisture and things will mold or turn to mush. The three exceptions are scallions, asparagus (think of the bunch as a bouquet of flowers) and carrots – which keep better immersed in water.

For veggies, when in doubt, bag it. When moisture evaporates, your vegetables go limp so bag them to retain the moisture – this works for hardy greens, too. Wrap your herbs in layers of dry paper towels to keep them fresh, and store any apples, ripe bananas, pears and potatoes away from other produce. These fruits and vegetables give off a gas called ethylene that speeds up the ripening process for everything around it.  

One-Off Hacks to Memorize

Here are a few quick and dirty bits of advice from the pros to memorize for future food prep. 

  • Cut off the ends of onions, tomatoes, cantaloupe, etc., so food stays stable on the cutting surface.
  • Put a wet paper towel under your cutting board to keep it from moving while you chop.
  • Vegetable scraps make flavorful vegetable stock if you’re not composting. Onion and celery ends, carrot butts, the base of broccoli and cauliflower all work — just stay away from seeds to avoid a bitter taste!
  • The key to making a juicy steak is starting with meat at room temperature and letting the cooked meat rest before you slice it.
  • Scoring meat and fish helps any marinade sink in and helps the meat cook faster. 
  • Sear meat and vegetables in a cast iron pan for even perfection!
  • Don’t over-mix ingredients when you’re baking – that develops gluten in the flour and toughens the batter. 
  • Half-way through the cooking time, rotate whatever you’re baking so that it cooks evenly.
  • Taste as you go and salt or season as you go. And lose the salt-shaker – pinch it into your dish!
  • Cook with a ratio of 1:1 butter and oil. The oil keeps the butter from burning and the butter adds richness to the dish.
  • Flavor your spices by tossing them in a pan on low heat then use a mortar and pestle to grind them into fine dust. One heated, the spices release a burst of flavor.
  • Rinse your rice before cooking for fluffy – not congealed – rice!

Home Chefs of Southshore

The spacious kitchens in the master-planned community of Southshore, make living here ideal for home chefs and eat-in families. The activities are rife —  the Aurora Reservoir is a bike ride away, and the Southlands Mall and two home improvement stores are five minutes by car! Set up an appointment to tour the models built by Colorado’s finest home builders –  brand new homes from Taylor Morrison, Richmond American Homes and Toll Brothers. Life at the Lake offers floor plans for ranch and two-story designs, priced between the $400s and the $700s close to all the essentials you’ll ever need.