5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
When Adam Roberts started his food blog, The Amateur Gourmet, as a way to unwind from the rigors of law school, he had no idea what he was cooking up. Nearly nine years later, Roberts is a full-fledged pro in the food world, with a passionate online following, a stint as an online show host for Cooking Channel and a food writing career that spans multiple publications and two published books.
He likens his most recent cookbook, "Secrets of the Best Chefs," to "an amateur guitarist getting to play for a year with The Rolling Stones...or an amateur athlete getting to train with the New York Yankees." In the course of writing "Secrets," Roberts worked side-by-side with some of the nation's most prominent and accomplished chefs, learning and translating their recipes and techniques to help enthusiastic home cooks (like him) who are eager elevate to their meals.
Readers who follow Roberts' and the chefs' approachable, easy-to-follow advice might not be ready to hop on the line in a restaurant kitchen, but they'll have friends and family standing in line, waiting for seconds.
Five Chef Tricks to Use at Home: Adam Roberts
This makes sense when you first see her babaganoush. It's is a purple gray color that not very sexy in the looks department (she addresses that by spreading it on toasted bread and topping it with a citrus herb salad) - but the flavor! When I cooked with her, Admony revealed her secret to maximizing the smoky eggplant flavor. She slices a large eggplant in half vertically, wraps it in aluminum foil, and places it in a dry skillet with another skillet on top of it, cooking it like that until the eggplant is charred black.
It's a totally bizarre way to cook eggplant but the result is an eggplant dip that actually gets you excited when you hear the words "eggplant dip." That's a big deal.
2. How To Improvise a Fish Stew
Moments later, it was as if we were on the beach in Italy, toasting our wine glasses and admiring the view. The stew was phenomenal. The key, it turns out, is just cooking the fish just enough. The moment it goes from translucent to opaque is the moment you want to take it off the heat. As for everything else, use what you have; as long as the fish is fresh, the rest takes care of itself.
3. How To Make Pie Dough Easy with the Clump Method
It comes down to his signature clump method. Let me walk you through it:
Add your flour and very cold butter to a food processor, pulse with the tiniest amount of cold water. Dump the sandy mixture on to a piece of parchment paper and then with your hand, grab up some of the "sand" and squeeze your fist. This makes a clump, which you should put on the other side of the parchment. Keep doing this until you have a pile of clumps and then use the parchment to bring the clumps together into a disc.
There you are! Refrigerate for one hour and roll out like a pro. Who knew clumps could make pie dough such a cinch?
4. How To Transform Your Indian Food At Home with One Key Ingredient
So what do Indian cooks use to impart a genuine curry flavor to their food? The answer: fresh curry leaves. Every dish that Gomez taught me (and I'll say right here that these were some of the most extraordinary plates of food I tasted on my entire cookbook journey) began by heating oil and then flavoring that oil with fresh curry leaves stripped straight from the stem. She threw the stem in too for good measure. And the aroma that permeated the kitchen was so enticing, so exotic and alluring, everything that came after was almost irrelevant. That one ingredient made for the best Indian food I've ever tasted.
5. How To Make the Best French Onion Soup of Your Life
What made the soup so good? Well, the onions were cooked for a very long time, until a deep, deep dark brown. The finished soup was seasoned with 30 year-aged balsamic vinegar and truffle salt (two of Pomeroy's favorite ingredients). But the real reason for the soup's magnificence was the stock she used to make it, a stock made with veal bones roasted in an oven and then simmered with water and other vegetables for almost 12 hours.
I adapted this recipe for the home cook while writing this book and recreated the soup in my kitchen. It's probably the most involved recipe in the book, but the results speak for themselves. When you eat it, you'll want to die too because life just doesn't get any better than this.
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