Pandemic-related restaurant closures appear to be a thing of the past, but there are many other reasons to level up our cooking and plating skills at home, as much as we may love the luxury of leaving all the work to professionals.
Besides reducing our costs, preparing meals at home gives us full control over what’s being fed to us, which is critical to our health in so many ways. It promotes a more intimate family dining experience as well as intellectual stimulation and creative thinking.
On top of that, it’s easy to make our food just as appealing to our taste buds and eyes as those in our most beloved go-to eateries.
Use powerfully fresh ingredients
This is what sets high-quality meals and restaurants above the rest, and it’s the easiest way to create a magnetic meal.
Troll the best markets, both farmers and retail, for the best produce to incorporate into your recipes, and steer away from processed products as much as possible. Take time to explore how to use different seasonal crops, and find versatile heavy hitters that will elevate a variety of dishes to tasty and memorable heights.
Plan and prep ahead
“Throwing together” a gourmet meal is possible but not a sure thing — it’s rarely easy or comfortable for the cook.
Make the process more pleasant for everyone by assembling a menu and ensuring you have immediate access to all the ingredients. Make ahead everything you can where you won’t sacrifice flavor and freshness.
This might feel like you’re extending your time in the kitchen, but it will end up saving you time overall.
Use the right tools
While it’s still wise to eschew gadgets that take their name from a specific food, you should find the implements that will improve upon your skill at putting consistently polished and professional-looking meals on your table.
Purchasing high-quality knives and keeping them sharp is the first step, but also invest in a mandolin and other slicing aids, along with a mixer, blender and food processor to keep everything looking and tasting as delectable as it would in a restaurant.
Leave breathing room on plates
Crowded plates bring buffets to mind, so pay attention to how food looks on your plate. White space (and yes, white- or light-colored plates are the most appetizing) brings the color and texture of food to the forefront, so keeping the portions in check glams up your meal as well as keeps everyone’s calorie consumption in check. Creating height through careful stacking adds visual interest while exposing more plate surface.
Enjoy the journey
This is prime time to let your ingenuity shine!
Play with complementary and contrasting flavors, experiment with sides and seasonings, and teach yourself how to artfully drizzle sauces and arrange garnishes. Borrow ideas from your favorite restaurants and make them your own by adapting them to the seasonal availability of ingredients and the mood you want to create every time you and yours sit down to eat.