Brought to you by Chef Kai
I’ve been thinking about the pandemic lately and the impact it has had on the culinary scene. Some people jumped all aboard the cooking train when the pandemic left them isolated but a lot of people still find cooking at home daunting.
We have seen the rise of the meal kit and companies jumping on this trend and I ask myself why are people flocking to these kits? And the answer is plainly obvious: it’s convenient and most of the work is done for you. You get a “restaurant” quality meal (open for debate) that you cook yourself with everything you need in a handy box with directions.
All of these factors can be readily duplicated without having to subscribe to a service.
Cooking can and should be easy, bottom line. Does it take practice, of course. And that will come with trying new things over and over again. But at the end of the day if you can follow a recipe and cut a carrot, you are already on your way to cooking great meals.
Let’s help make you a better home cook who is confident wielding tongs, knives and fry pans!
Mise En Place
Mise en place is a French culinary phrase which means "putting in place" or "gather". It refers to the setup required before cooking, and is often used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing ingredients.
That is the secret to good cooking ladies and gentlemen. Well that and good ingredients. And patience….
If you take the time to properly shop, to stock a pantry over time, and get a few key pieces of equipment, you can be posting fancy instagram pictures in no time.
Getting your Mise together can require some equipment/plateware. I am constantly using ramekins, measuring cups, measuring spoons, small -> large bowls and anything else I can get my hands on to organize my meal prep.
One of the biggest issues for home cooks is meal or menu planning. This will directly correlate to your grocery shopping list. I suggest you take the time to write out meals you love to eat. From here, you start to build an ingredient list that you will pull from for other meals. This is called cross-utilization which is another kitchen tip on keeping food costs down. This will also limit your waste or throwing things out. Buying one-off ingredients can be fine, but you will maximize your budget by using ingredients in multiple dishes.
Purchasing ingredients in season will also help you save money and guarantee the best of the best ingredients and taste for your meal.
If you are like me, I’m always scouring the net to find new inspirations and ideas. Thankfully, handy apps like Pinterest can help you pin interesting recipes to your own private digital cookbook for quick reference!!
Prepping and Setting Your “Mise”
Now you have your groceries and your meals planned out. The next step is how to begin. If you are following a recipe, now is the time to read through the recipe fully. Understand what you need to do and what are the cooking steps. Do you need to start preheating your oven now?
How Chefs and trained cooks are able to cook quickly and efficiently all relies on their prep. Gather all your ingredients, weigh them if necessary, measure out all liquids, grab those measuring spoons. Peel your carrots and onions, dice or chop appropriately and have all the steps done prior to anything hitting a pan or oven. With all your ingredients laid out, you can envision the process now and be prepared for all the steps in your recipe.
90% of cooking is prepping, the rest is basic cooking techniques. Once you have mastered getting your Mise en Place in order, the cooking aspect should become the fun and easy part!