Here are a few key items that can upgrade your cooking skills from amateur to PRO status:
•Mandoline – You can slice, dice, and even make french fries. If you think a chef is spending time slicing that radish paper thin for your salad, you are mistaken. If you need to get a perfect dice, or baton even, start with a mandoline slice, then finish with a chefs knife. Need to sliced potatoes for a gratin…the mandoline is your best bet.
•Blender – I want to make an ‘xyz’ puree…BLENDER. I want to whip up a vinaigrette or mayonnaise from scratch…BLENDER. I feel like a pistachio cilantro pesto on my salmon…BLENDER. I love cream of broccoli soup…BLENDER…blender.
•Stand Mixer – No matter what brand you prefer, you can whip, blend, fold, kneed, grind and stuff all with the same piece of equipment. Multi-tasking at its finest, in some case you can set it…AAANNNDDD?
•Ice – Being a master with something as simple as ice can make your ingredient prep. pro level. In a fast, high volume restaurant, do you think they are always cooking your risotto or pasta from raw product to order? Do you think every batch of sauce is cooked and held hot? Nothing helps with speed, and quality control than cooking and cooling food items in an ice bath. Perfect for vegetables when wanting to keep a bright green color with a tender mouthfeel. Holding foods hot changes its color, flavor, and appearance. Cooling hot foods fast to refrigerated temperatures is also a food safety bonus!
•Silpat – The most non-sticky bulletproof pan liner you can find. It will hold up to high over temperatures, melted sugar and will keep coming back for more. Baked goods don’t stand a chance, and neither does anything else for that matter.
•Strainer/cheese cloth combo – A chinois is also acceptable, but if you ever wondered how a chefs sauce or soup is nice and smooth with no lumps or grittiness, its because the strain out the bad stuff. Is your gravy or cheese sauce a little to chunky? Toss it into a strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth and save the day.
What are some of your favorite cooking tools that make you feel pro???