Fine dining can be a delectable experience, but eating out at a fancy restaurant more than occasionally can wreak havoc on a tight food budget. Instead, try some easy, inexpensive ways to give home-cooked meals a creative flair to rival the polished plates turned out by accomplished chefs. Say goodbye to homely pork chops, boring pasta, and bland desserts with these 10 cheap tools and tips for cooking like a chef.
Cook Like a Chef: 10 Tricks to Creating Gourmet Dishes
Tender pink salmon and colorful sushi can look amazing on a pristine white plate, but lumpy beef stew may look dull. How to liven up these dishes? Many chefs blanch vegetables to preserve bright color and texture for later. Boil vegetables in salted water for a few minutes (depending on the vegetable and your liking) before immediately plunging them in cold or icy water -- a process known as "shocking" that stops them from cooking further. Use the blanched vegetables for a pop of color and contrast on any plate.
The look of the food is important, but so are the plate and portions. Too much of one element can crowd a plate, making the presentation less appealing. Create contrast and emphasize the food by leaving at least a third of the plate empty. Professionals also choose white plates so bright foods stand out in the center -- perfect for Instagram.
Whether it's flank steak, chicken breast, or pork chops, professional chefs let cooked meat rest before serving. Meat fibers are loose and relaxed when hot. Slicing immediately into hot meat causes juices to seep out onto the cutting board or plate. If the meat is allowed to cool, the fibers tense up again and hold moisture, leaving less of the tasty juices behind on the plate. Try resting cooked meat on a warm or room temperature plate for at least five minutes before slicing and serving.