I spent a lot of my time in culinary school watching the chefs yell at fellow students. The chefs weren’t mean; most of them were actually quite nice people. It’s just that it was community college. With mostly 19-year-old students. Many of them cocky, fresh-out-of-high-school boys who may have dabbled in the kitchens at a local diner or chain restaurant, and thought they knew everything about cooking already. They didn’t listen to instructions, and were often cavalier with the expensive ingredients the school had purchased for us to use. The chefs had no patience for this kind of behavior.
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Some of my best good blog friends have been making “Things I Don’t Do Lists” lately. Basically, it’s a list all about recognizing that there are 10 million things we could do each day, but you know what? There just isn’t time to do it all, and that’s perfectly fine. My Things I Don’t Do list would include brushing my hair, washing my car and reading books for pleasure.
I often wonder if anybody feels a bit deceived by the name of this blog. I worry that fellow lemon lovers arrive here, quickly look around, and wonder where all the luscious lemon desserts are. I’ve published embarrassingly few, just a cake or lemon bars here and there. Truth be told, my love for lemons is mainly an appreciation of how their flavor can brighten and enhance almost any (savory) dish. I’ve found that most otherwise boring and bland recipes can be saved by a touch of acidic lemon juice. My tastebuds have come to crave acid, and now I can’t get through a hearty bowl of beef stew without a wedge of lemon to cut the richness.
In this monthly series, I commit to cooking whatever is on the cover of Bon Appetit, Saveur or maybe some other food magazine. There’s a reason these particular dishes are on the cover – they’re usually the best recipes in the magazine.
I totally crushed on the cover of Bon Appetit this month. In one image, one headline, one cover, it summed up what I aim to do with this blog – teach people how to cook restaurant-quality food at home. I was already in love with this beautiful plate of healthy food, but when I realized I could pull it all together in less than 20 minutes? Even bigger crush. Here’s how you can make this dish like the home chef that you are.
In my “What I Learned in Culinary School” series, I’ll be sharing tips and tricks that I learned from two years of working with some of the country’s best chefs. This will include big things like learning to work efficiently, and small things like how to cook bacon perfectly. All of them will be applicable to your home kitchen, making you a faster, better, and more confident cook.
It’s a fact of life that when you write a food blog, and/or have gone to culinary school, and/or have won a cooking contest, and/or generally cook in some capacity for a living, people think you are a huge food snob. They’re usually afraid to take you to their favorite restaurants, because they think you might turn up your nose if it doesn’t meet your lofty standards.
The fact is, I don’t have lofty standards at all. I’ll eat just about anything. If I order a burger and it’s a little overcooked, I’m not going to send it back. I’m going to eat the burger. If a salad doesn’t quite live up to my expectations, oh well. If I’m still hungry, I can make a snack at home later. I consider myself to be a good dining companion and quite easygoing.
I used to really, really hate the flavor of many fresh herbs. Especially fresh parsley and mint. Just smelling or thinking about either one kind of made me want to die a little bit. You know how in Sex and The City, Carrie tells servers she’s allergic to fresh parsley because she hates it so much? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I wanted to do (but never really did).