As a chef, my cooking style meshes well with my palate, kitchen and career. Understanding my style helped me become a better chef and enjoy cooking more. I’m excited to help you discover yours!
Have you defined your style?
Knowing your style helps you build the perfect pantry, uncover new recipes to enjoy and broaden your culinary horizons. Here are four styles to explore. You might fit into one or be a mix of styles, but either way you’ll have fun discovering more about how, what and why you love to cook.
If your pantry is stocked with instant mashed potatoes and quick-cooking rice and your typical weeknight consists of taking the kids to piano lessons and baseball practice, you might be what I call an express-lane chef.
Your on-the-go lifestyle and organized home keep you moving at a fast pace. You like quick meal options: microwaveable recipes, frozen prepared dinners and quick-cooking versions of the classics.
Put a home-cooked spin on grocery-store fare
- Mix ¼ cup orange juice and ¼ tbsp. cumin into a can of tomato soup and top with a dollop of sour cream for a grown-up version of a childhood favorite
- Add a quick kick to instant mashed potatoes with a minced, sauteed clove of garlic, a handful of grated cheese or a chopped chipotle in adobo sauce
Try foods that add flavor and eliminate prep time
- Grated cheese
- Chopped frozen vegetables
- Prepared pesto and bottled sauces
- Chopped nuts
- Dried fruits
Try a quick weeknight menu you can prepare in about 30 minutes
- Spice-crusted grilled skirt steak
- Black bean, corn, tomato, avocado and cilantro salad
- Fresh berries topped with yogurt
The comfort-food cook
If your favorite word is “creamy,” your favorite chef is Paula Deen and your freezer is stocked with meatloaves and twice-baked potatoes, you’re probably a classic comfort-food cook! You love to spend time in the kitchen, and your family looks forward to whatever is simmering on the stovetop. Use the slow-cook feature on your Kenmore range for easy comfort food classics.
Be your own butcher
Cuts of meat that are near the head or the hoof are the toughest, so they are best for braising. Meats along the back are tender and require shorter cooking times.
Purchase whole pork loins (or other cuts of meat) and cut them yourself at home. You can select how thick or thin you want each serving and will avoid paying store markups.
Keep one portion of each meal light. Start with a salad or serve a steamed vegetable with your main dish. It helps balance the weight of starches and meats.
Next time you want to impress diners, try this comforting menu:
- Molasses-brined pork chops with caramelized apples
- Polenta with fresh herbs
- Bread pudding
Your pantry is stocked with Bhutanese red rice, pomegranate molasses and harissa. Your idea of relaxation is cooking a three-course meal, pairing it with the perfect wine and flipping through Saveur magazine. You’re an adventurer!
Always on the forefront of culinary trends, you’re not afraid to try intricate techniques and unique flavor combinations. For intense flavor, buy whole spices and grind them just before use. I love my coffee grinder; it’s an inexpensive way to grind whole spices and can be easily cleaned by grinding uncooked rice through it.
Feeling adventurous? Host a small-plates party with dishes like these
- Vegetable samosas with green-chili chutney
- Crostini with caramelized onions, gorgonzola and fig jam
- Crab potstickers with ginger dipping sauce
Try this epicurean menu at your next dinner party:
- Filet mignon with a brandy cream sauce
- Oven-roasted new potatoes
- Banana souffle with caramel sauce
The healthy chef
You fuel yourself and your family with low-fat, high-energy foods. After work, you typically work out at the gym and make a quick, light meal. Your refrigerator is stocked with local produce, and your pantry is free of hydrogenated oils. You add flavor without fat by relying on herbs and spices. You plan ahead but shop often, selecting only the freshest unpackaged ingredients. You are a healthy chef!
- Experiment with grilling unexpected foods like flatbread pizza, fruits and vegetables.
- Serve your kids healthy quesadillas, with chicken, extra salsa and low-fat sour cream.
- Turn leftover meats, vegetables and a bit of high-flavor cheese into soups, stews, omelets, salads and stir-fries.
You love to boost the nutrition factor with lots of fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget, frozen versions are just as good. Use frozen veggies in casseroles, potpies, pasta, wraps and dips. Try frozen fruits in cobblers, smoothies, muffins and on top of cereal or yogurt.
Try this menu when you crave a light and healthy meal:
- Spice-crusted salmon
- Tabbouleh with tomatoes and roasted corn
- Strawberries with dark chocolate sauce
So tell me – what’s your style?