When it comes to cooking dinner day in and day out, you might find yourself in a culinary rut. With our busy lives and hectic schedules, it can almost seem impossible to enjoy a home cooked meal these days. I’m pretty sure the microwave gets more action than that beautiful Kenmore gas range you purchased! Well, it’s time to throw a towel over your shoulder, pour yourself a glass of wine, ignite your inner top chef, and get ready to take dinner to the next level!
Make sure you have the right pantry essentials: I love to fill my pantry with the basics such as boxed stocks, pestos, vinegars, spices, and salts. But I like to take those items to the next level by incorporating more luxurious treats such as dried shitake mushrooms, truffle oils, and Tupelo honey. Take the time to wander through the grocery aisles and if your budget allows, pick out one new ingredient a week that you can experiment with in the kitchen.
Knife skills are essential in the kitchen: The first course any chef-in-training takes in culinary school is knife skills. It is the quintessential element of making any dish go from a zero to a hero. I love buying a bag of carrots and methodically practicing my batonnets, julienne, and brunoise cuts. (Don’t panic! These are just the French terms for small dice and long, thin strips.) Also, it’s best to invest in a good set of knives. Buying one good chef’s knife that you take good care of will last you years as opposed to those cheap, dull knives, which can severely hurt you in the kitchen. If you need some help with your knife skills or how to buy the right knife, check out my Pinterest board for some great tips and videos.
Learn the difference between just following a recipe and technique: Sure, anyone can read a recipe and follow it. (Well, almost anyone except for most of the guys I’ve dated!) But it’s the techniques that take dinner to the next level. I love to braise meats when it’s colder outside or pan roast a beautiful filet of halibut on a scorching hot sear. Different cuts of meats or proteins need to be cooked using different methods, so it’s best to learn all about how to properly cook each ingredient, then find the proper recipe that matches. Technique will determine the level of culinary heights you might like to reach so aim high and teach yourself how to sous-vide those short ribs.
Cook seasonally: There is nothing more exciting to me than heading to a farmers market on a cool, brisk morning to check out what my local farmers and friends have been growing for the last few months. Each season is filled with delicious fruits and vegetables that is meant to be eaten at the peak of their season. I usually have guides I’ve found on the internet to tell me exactly what is in season for the current month, then I will create a beautiful dish to highlight my favorite picks.
Another surefire way to take take your nightly dinners to the next level is to prepare them on the new Kenmore PRO appliances — the professional quality appliances that don’t come with a professional level price tag.