How to cook elegant restaurant quality gourmet food
in your home kitchen
Culinary certainly deserves to be called an art, because chef is one of the few professions that don't get very affected by the technology changes of our times. It is also a profession that requires complete concentration, use of all five senses, dedication and a lot of love. The greatest reward of cooking is the immediate positive response to your creations from your customers, family or friends. If you don't take pride of your work you cannot possibly be a great chef.
Introduction: Gourmet cooking means creating high quality meals of exceptional nutritional value, tastefully presented to be appealing for the eye and the palate. You don't need to spend a fortune in order to enjoy a fine gourmet meal. All you need to do is to buy good quality products and to follow some of my simple recipes, and you will be surprised how affordable and easy it is to cook gourmet food at home. All gourmet cooking recipes in Finest Chef have been prepared at home, without using any special equipment or utensils.
Products: Gourmet cooking starts from your grocery store or local farmer's market. Find products that you probably don't know how to cook, but always wondered how they are being prepared in your favorite restaurant. You may spend slightly more than your average grocery shopping, but it is well worth it.
Such products might be marlin, swordfish, Peruvian potatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, rack of lamb, caviar, tuna steak, cornish hen, plantain, pork loin, veal shank, sea bass, clams, mussels, veal chops, veal scaloppine, salmon fillet, extra virgin olive oil, red skin potatoes, trout, vanilla beans, blood orange,
gourmet mushroom mix, smoked salmon, just to mention a few. Follow the links above and you will discover good examples of gourmet recipes that can be prepared in less than 20 minutes in your home. Also, using fresh herbs can give a nice boost to almost any recipe, and they are great for decoration, as well.
Cookware: If you are serious about gourmet cooking, consider investing a few bucks in a good quality cookware. Having said that, I don't mean expensive cookware. There are quite a few useful utensils you can find even in the dollar and discount stores. If you are looking to buy cookware now, do yourself a favor and do not buy non-stick frying pans, they aren't good for your health. Purchase a cast iron pan instead. Avoid using aluminum pans for the same reason, unless it is anodized. A safe bet would be to purchase a stainless steel pan with a heavy copper bottom. When you are trying to cook something special, you will find that some small utensils from the dollar store can be very useful for your home gourmet cooking. For example butter scoop, piping bags, tongues, food thermometer, timer, etc.
While creating the recipes for Finest Chef, I have used butter scoop on many occasions to decorate desserts, seafood, for Parisienne potatoes, main courses and so on. Feeling comfortable in your kitchen will help you a lot, if you want to leave behind the bittersweet memory of your plain ol' dinner and start cooking like a chef.
Cooking Techniques - a short explanation of some of the cooking techniques and terms that I have used in Finest Chef:
Saute: Saute is a method of quickly cooking foods over high temperature in a small amount of oil in a pan. The purpose of sauteing is to preserve the flavor and nutritional value of the products.
Roasting: Roasting means surrounding the meat or vegetables with dry heat, which causes the surface of the product to brown, thus enhancing the flavor of the food. This cooking method usually requires minimum attention and is excellent for large cuts of meat, poultry and vegetables.
Deglazing: Deglazing is a part of sauteing and roasting. When you saute some food, usually there is a deposit of caramelized flavor from the product stuck to the bottom of the pan. Using a liquid in the hot pan such as stock, wine, liqueur or even water, loosens the deposits and returns the extra flavor to the food. When you roast, you need to remove the food, skim most of the fat and deglaze the roasting pan to utilize all the meat juices and bits of flavor for a delicious sauce.
Braising: Braising means cooking with moist heat. In a roasting pan, pour a small amount of liquid and cover with tin foil. Braising is used for tougher cuts of meat at smaller temperature and longer cooking time.
Poaching: Poaching is to gently simmer delicate food such as fish fillets and eggs in a shallow liquid, which can be flavored with herbs, lemon, spices or liqueur, to enhance the flavor of the food.
Pan roasting: Pan roasting is when you sear meat in a hot pan and than finish it in the oven. I like using cast iron pan for pan roasting, which I deglaze at the end to make a quick and delicious sauce.
Broiling: In America broiling means "grilling". However, the correct meaning of broiling is cooking by direct heat from above, such as cooking in salamander or in oven with only the top heating element on. For example, lobster tail is a good candidate for broiling.
Searing: Searing means to seal the meat, which is going to be roasted, by browning its surface in a pan or flat top grill over high heat. The purpose of searing is to seal the meat juices inside the meat, so it ends up more juicy and tender when it is cooked.