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The Cooking Secrets Chefs Swear by to Make Your Meals Delicious and Quick, According to James Beard Award Winning Chefs

Pressed for time to cook after work? Tired of scrubbing pans?

The James Beard award-winning chefs from America Cooks gave us their restaurant secrets that you can use in your home kitchen starting from now.

image of experienced chef garnishing food in a restaurant

5 Pro Cooking Hacks to Help you Start Preparing Delicious Foods Fast

Prep work is the key to a chef’s success.

Getting food onto the plate isn’t as easy as it looks.

While your perfectly cooked dish came out of the restaurant’s kitchen in 15 minutes, there was actually hours of prep work that went into the meal. Restaurants have brigades of chefs that work as a team to prep food in advance and break down protein portions, cook sauces, and chop produce.

Chef Maria Hines, co-owner/head chef of Tilth, says you can use the same principle at home by prepping food in advance for the week, so on busy days when you don’t have time to cook you have healthy items ready to go in the freezer or fridge like stews, soups, one pot meals, etc.

Seasoning brings your food to the next level.

Ever wonder how restaurant chefs make their food pop in your mouth?

Jimmy Schmidt, executive chef at Morgan’s in the desert, says that blended salts are the building blocks of his dishes, adding complexity to flavors and helping them complement one another. He makes these blends and infusions from simple pantry ingredients, and promises it doesn’t take the expertise of a professional chef.

Salt blends are made by adding a ground spice or herb, such as coriander or rosemary, to a base salt.

Michelle Bernstein, co-owner/head chef of Michy’s and Crumb on Parchment, says that you can wake up stale spices by toasting them before adding to other dishes, either in a dry saucepan, on the stovetop, or a dry roasting pan in the oven. Just be careful not to burn them!

Tin foil is a great cooking aide and makes for easy cleanup.

Chef Schmidt says you should get creative with cooking with tin foil.

You can prep vegetables in advance, store them, and cook them all in one tin foil pouch. The best part is that this method saves time on cleanup as well, because the tinfoil can be recycled and the pan won’t need washing.

Try caramelizing Chef Jimmy’s favorites including beets, parsnips, and fennel bulbs, but whatever root vegetables you have on hand — carrots, potatoes, onions, etc. — will work as well. Add olive oil and pinch the edges of the pouch shut, then place in the oven on a metal pan at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Homemade salad dressing is easier to make than you think.

Make your salads standout by making dressing from scratch.

Mary Sue Milliken, co-chef/owner of Border Grill Restaurants & Truck, says you just need to remember the golden ratio: 3 parts oils to 2 parts acids.

Your oil can be anything from olive to avocado to canola oil while your acid can be anything from lemon or lime juice to tangy sherry, rice or red wine vinegar.

Chef Schmidt says you can also make homemade infused oils and use them as dressing or marinades. Heat oil to 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and add basil, garlic, chili, smoked paprika, or whatever other spice or herb suits your fancy (and your dish).

BONUS TIP: If you are a growing chef or a regular home cook, then knowing some or most of the basic culinary terms will help you understand and use recipe books better. Additionally, familiarizing yourself with simple food and recipe measurements such as ounces in a quart, quarts to tablespoon and more – will help you get better at recipe mastery and accuracy for better cooking results.

Cooking Time Saving Tips to Help You Cook Faster

Cooking a meal from start to finish can often feel like a daunting task. Planning, shopping, prepping, and presenting a delicious yet healthy dinner is challenging, but these quick tips from my kitchen to yours will help simplify and expedite the process.

  • Read the recipe through from start to finish before you begin so as not to encounter any surprise steps or ingredients along the way.
  • Gather all ingredients, cookware, and utensils necessary in advance so everything is at your fingertips when you’re elbows deep. This will make the process less chaotic and help the meal come together faster.
  • Ensure that your cooking tools are in good condition, and keep them that way. Taking the time to sharpen your knives will help meal prep run quickly and smoothly in the long run.
  • Always use a bigger bowl than you think is necessary, and place the container in the sink when you combine ingredients. This way, any mess that is created can be easily swept down the drain.
  • Minimize the mess after supper by doing the dishes and wiping down the counters as you go. Do your best to begin and end with a sparkling kitchen.

4 Simple Food Techniques That Makes Your Food More Appealing

Half of a dish’s appeal is in its presentation. Most of us want our food to look as pretty as it tastes, and there are a few easy ways to make that happen:

1. Citrus Supremes

citrus supremes

Peel and segment large citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits, then peel away the skin on each segment to create what the French call a “supreme”. The fruit tastes more delicate and light this way.

2. Garnishes

Garnishes are how chefs create a feeling that food can be as much art as it is nourishment. Try finishing your next dish with a sprinkle of herbs, a few grinds of pepper, a sprinkle of large-flaked salts like Maldon, a drizzle of olive oil to make it seem more appealing.

3. Embrace Easy Sauces

Sauces add a layer of depth and complexity to a dish. Whether it’s a pan sauce you made after roasting a chicken, a fresh sauce made from herbs or spices, or a drizzle of nice vinegar or flavored oil can lift your meal to the next level. Even a poached egg with a luxurious yolk can make a dish look more exciting.

4. Plating

Plating is an art form that chefs practice every day, but you can get creative at home as well. With pasta, try twirling it around a long fork before transferring it to a plate, then spooning additional sauce over top. With big roasts like chicken or roast beef, try serving on a wooden board or other natural material with garnishes. Have fun with it! Use what you have to make your food look great.