Every month, Lori Yates from Foxes Love Lemons takes a lesson she learned in culinary school, while working with some of the country’s best chefs, and brings it into the home kitchen, where her tips will help make you a faster, better, and more confident cook. Welcome to her column, Home Chef. Her post today is all about one amazing tip for making home-cooked meals appear as refined as what you eat in a restaurant. Because you’ve go to treat yourself–right?
A friend recently asked me, “No offense, but are you, like, really picky about restaurant food now that you’ve gone to culinary school?” I told him that actually, no, I’m pretty easygoing. I hardly ever send food back to the kitchen. With one exception. Hot food has to be served hot, and cold food has to be served cold. Bring me a cold bowl of soup or a warm and wilted salad, and I will send it back every single time.
Neighborhood dive bars get this wrong once in a while, while upscale fine dining restaurants hardly ever misstep in this area. The reason is one simple activity that can elevate home cooking into the realm of a restaurant-quality meal. To demonstrate, I’m even giving you a peak into my fridge for a second column in a row (what was I thinking?).
Serving a side salad or frozen dessert? Grab your salad plates or bowls and let them chill out in the fridge while you prepare your Blue Apron dinner. Twenty minutes is all it should take (do it even faster in the freezer!). By the time your dinner is ready, you can take the frosty plates out of the fridge, plate up your salads, and take them right to the table. Your greens and vegetables will stay cool, refreshing and crisp while you eat, even on a warm summer day.
Making a pot roast or casserole on a cold winter day? Nothing is worse than cold casserole. Most roasts and casseroles need to stand for a few minutes after they come out of the oven, before serving. Take this time to reduce the oven temperature to 200°F, and throw your plates in there while your roast rests. In just five minutes, your plates will be warmed through and ready for you to serve up your piping hot dinner. You’ll appreciate that your meat stays hot while you take your time savoring each bite.
This maneuver was an absolute requirement when working at the student-run restaurant at my culinary school. The trick made every dish that left the kitchen seem like it could be served in a four-star restaurant anywhere in the world. One tip? Just don’t put your plates in the oven and forget about them. This may have happened just a few times at school. And when the chefs arrived in the morning and noticed plates that had been “warming” in the oven for the last 18 hours, well, there was yelling. Luckily, you won’t have a Certified Master Chef breathing down your neck in your home kitchen. Relax and enjoy your hot food being HOT, and cold food being being COLD.