Celebrity chefs just make things look easy, don’t they? Watch any episode of Chopped, MasterChef, or Top Chef, and most of us home cooks are in awe…they make cooking look effortless! What are their secrets? Here are a few kitchen tips from celebrity chefs to make life in the kitchen just a little bit easier.
We’ve all been there… inspiration strikes and we whip up a delicious dessert that took about two hours to make. You are just about to taste your handiwork, when you realize the kitchen is an absolute mess! You then remember why you are so reluctant to experiment in the kitchen in the first place – cleaning afterwards can be a nightmare. Molly Yeh (cookbook author and host of Girl Meets Farm) is known for her love of baking, and because baking usually leads to a lot of dishes and dirty measuring spoons, she keeps a bowl of soapy water in her sink. As she finishes with her spoons, she pops them in the water and by the time she’s finished, all her utensils have soaked long enough to avoid dried, sticky dough. Kristen Kish (winner of Top Chef Season 10) also believes in cleaning on the go. By washing a bowl here and a spoon there, you won’t feel overwhelmed by a tower of dirty dishes at the end of your cooking!
There are some things in the kitchen that home cooks struggle with at least once in their life. A broken or split sauce is one of those issues. Alex Guarnaschelli (Iron Chef and judge on Chopped) says that the best way to fix a split chocolate or cream sauce, is to add a few tablespoons of water. Another common difficulty, is peeling garlic. Lorena Garcia (cookbook author and Top Chef Masters contestant) has a simple (and effective) solution for this. She places her whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in the microwave for about 10 seconds. This will make the peels come off easily and will also remove some of the harsh garlic flavor – it works perfectly if you plan to use raw garlic in a dish.
Baking is a science – we hear it all the time. But there are a few things you can do to avoid failure. Duff Goldman, (judge on Holiday Baking Championships) recommends you take your eggs out of the refrigerator the night before baking. It will lower the eggs’ temperature to room temperature, which means they won’t seize up when you mix them with butter. He also says it makes beating egg whites easier. Eggs should usually be used at room temperature, but what about butter? When making a pie crust, the colder the better, as cold butter makes for a nice flaky crust. Katie Button (who won the James Beard Award for Best Chef) suggests that you put your butter in the freezer, and grate it into your flour. This will keep the butter cold, and will also distribute the small pieces of butter easily throughout the flour.
Ree Drummond (cookbook author and host of Pioneer Woman) is no stranger to making big family meals, so she’s all about saving time. One of the ways she shaves off time from cooking, is by preparing her produce beforehand. She washes fresh produce, prepares it accordingly, and put it away in the refrigerator. Then when she cooks, she only grabs what she needs – no need to stand and peel the carrots first! Giada De Laurentiis (cookbook author and Italian chef) does all her prep work on a Sunday, so that meals for the week ahead are quicker and stress-free. She cooks grains, prepares her vegetables, and even blanches some of the produce. Emeril Lagasse (chef and cookbook author) believes that it’s just as important to prep before every dish. He says by taking out all the cookware, utensils, and ingredients you will need, you are ready to put all your focus on the recipe at hand! Geoffrey Zakarian (chef and judge on Chopped) agrees. He says by placing all your ingredients on the counter before you even turn on the stove, is the best step towards mastering a recipe.
What celebrity chef tip do you like the most?