With a restaurant-style approach and a fearless curiosity, even the most amateur home cook can aspire to culinary greatness with these 5 deceptively simple recipes.
Cooking a restaurant-quality meal at home can be intimidating. But for the avid home cook looking to refine their skills and expand their repertoire, a little courage paired with a basic understanding of fundamental cooking techniques can go a long way. You’ll quickly learn that there are very few recipes you can’t conquer in the comfort of your own home. And fearlessness will always be rewarded in the kitchen as long as you don’t take yourself too seriously. Here are five of our favorite recipes that will make you feel like a chef by utilizing a restaurant-style approach to maximize flavor.
Gochujang-Glazed Turkey Meatballs with Cucumber Salad
A proper glaze requires a bit of patience, but the payoff is always worth it. In this recipe, seasoned turkey meatballs are roasted at a very high temperature to set the protein so we can begin to lacquer on a sweet-and-salty gochujang glaze.
We apply the glaze in three stages so that each layer has a chance to cook and caramelize in the hot oven before another layer is applied. This, in turn, provides a rich depth of flavor that pairs beautifully with a crisp and bright cucumber salad, all served on our crunchy sweet romaine lettuce.
Thai-Inspired Sweet Potato Salad
Cooking is a wonderful opportunity to explore the bounds of your creativity and pull influence from all of the rich and diverse cuisines our world has to offer. In this recipe, we loosely explore the flavors of Thailand with aromatic spice and coconut roasted sweet potatoes and a vibrant fish sauce and citrus dressing.
But the real takeaway here is balance as each element assists in a harmonious bite. Roasted, caramelized sweet potatoes, buttery avocado, crunchy macadamia nuts, juicy-ripe tomatoes, and fresh basil all prove complimentary in both texture and flavor.
Grilled Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese-Buttermilk Dressing and Gremolata Breadcrumbs
A smokey char can transform the most unsuspecting ingredients into something hearty and satisfying. So, while it may seem unusual, even romaine lettuce can benefit from a quick trip to a hot grill. The outer leaves become charred and crisp while the inner leaves remain firm and crunchy. Paired with the quintessential blue cheese-buttermilk dressing and aromatic sourdough breadcrumbs, this dish will have all your friends and family saying “oui chef” in no time.
Wilted Butter Lettuce Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Typically, wilted lettuce is seen as undesirable. But intentionally wilting lettuce and greens can change their texture and flavor in a dynamic and delicious way.
While a warm bacon vinaigrette seems a bit indulgent, a little bit of smoky seasoned bacon fat can add a tremendous amount of flavor without breaking the calorie bank. And a liberal smattering of crisp white onion, radish, and shaved scallion help lighten things up and provide balance and texture.
Spicy Basil Eggplant Stir-Fry
The main difference between restaurant-quality stir fry and home-cooked stir fry is heat. And while you may not have access to a 100K BTU wok burner standard in some restaurants, you can preheat whatever pan you’re using until it starts to smoke to achieve that same chargrilled flavor, or at least something similar.
It may seem counterintuitive to start with such a hot pan, but the second your ingredients are added your pan temperature plummets, so the hotter the better. Because a proper stir-fry is so quick-cooking, it’s imperative to have all of your ingredients prepped and easily accessible to prevent anything from burning.
A good cook is always evolving, so let the techniques and ideas in this collection of recipes inspire you to cook up high–quality dishes of your own creation. I’d recommend keeping a small kitchen journal of your favorite techniques, flavors, and the recipes that excite you and inform your ever-evolving palette and kitchen personality. Tracking your evolution as a cook will help empower you in your progress, more effectively stock your cooking tool belt, learn from your failures, and revel in your successes.