A follower who has been extremely helpful to me suggested I write a blog talking about all of the things that I learned during my “Think Like A Chef” journey. Sounds like a good idea to me, so:
I learned – perhaps most importantly – that I am able to cook without a recipe. This was actually the intention of the whole “Think Like A Chef” thing in the first place. Start with one ingredient – a vegetable most likely – and let the idea grow into something larger. Or, look in the fridge, see what you have, and go for it!
I learned you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a great meal. Colicchio does an entire chapter about focusing on three ingredients. Oddly enough, he gave that challenge to some “Last Chance Kitchen” “cheftestants” on Top Chef recently.
I learned there is a tradeoff between really good ingredients and convenience. I learned this when I made my own chicken stocks…going from a white chicken stock to a brown chicken stock vs. using a high quality “stock in a box.” I think you really can tell a difference making fresh stock, but the convenience of using box stock – particularly when you don’t have a great deal of room in the fridge – is ok with me. I will make stock in the future for special occasions, but for everyday life, box stock works for me.
I learned plating. This is still a bit of a struggle for me. However, I am slowly getting better at it, and have actually looked up some plating articles on the internet. So I hope in the future you will see some beautiful plating from me.
I learned although making up your own recipe can be fun and fulfilling, cooking using a recipe is ok as well. I am making Christmas dinner this year. I found a recipe by Bobby Flay which uses a pomegranate molasses. I think this recipe sounds fantastic, and I don’t think there is a way I can make that recipe my own, so I will cook it as instructed. (The sides, on the other hand…)
Finally, on a more humorous note, I learned that those kids on Master Chef Junior are light years ahead of me. How did they get so good so quick? I’m a little jealous, to be honest…
So there you go. I am already thinking about my Christmas dinner…I was thinking of perhaps mashed potato using a compound butter, and then maybe a salad with pomegranate seeds to tie in some flavors…I’m not quite sure yet. But it will be interesting, fun, and a continued learning experience.