You’ve got hungry family and friends coming to your place for holiday parties and gatherings. Of course, you want to impress and see them leave satisfied, saying the food was as good as that of the best restaurants. How do you do it? Here are three tips from our kitchen to yours—secrets we hope will take the stress out of cooking so you can enjoy being with your loved ones.
1. ‘Tis the season to season.
It’s no time to skimp on salt, pepper, and spices. If you want your guests to o-o-h and a-h-h, you need to season every step of the way—your sides and your main. In fact, seasoning throughout the cooking process is the first rule of Rezaz, something all of our kitchen staff are trained to do. You don’t want to over-season, though. To get things just right, you need to taste, taste, and taste again. We promise that proper seasoning is the difference between a bland, blah meal and one that can rival a dish from your favorite eatery (which is Rezaz, right?!).
2. Waste not.
At Rezaz, we use every edible leftover, right down to the salty liquid our feta cheese arrives in—it’s the house brine for our chicken (shhh, don’t tell!).
Striving for little waste in the kitchen forces you to get creative, and culinary creativity equals flavor. We even know fellow chefs who use jarred pickle juice to lend their food that je ne sais quoi.
One of the easiest ways to use up your scraps and transform your meals is by
making stocks. After you’ve chopped up onions, carrots, celery, and the like for other
dishes, simmer the leftover dices and peelings in water for a flavorful vegetable
broth. Or, boil them along with the bones from a rotisserie chicken for a few hours
to make a piquant homemade chicken stock. The combinations are endless; throw in
any veggie scraps and meat bones. Then, use your homemade stocks for soups and
beyond: in sauces and gravies, to baste your turkey, and the list of options keeps
3. Embrace mise en place.
The French term literally means “put in place.” In our kitchen, the phrase is a philosophy—one that keeps cooking fail-safe, simple, and fun. And you can practice its principles at home: Measure, cut, peel, slice, and grate all of your ingredients before you begin cooking. Lay them out along with any pans, mixing bowls, and other tools of the trade you’ll need for your meal. Finally, make
sure to read your recipe at least twice prior to starting to cook or bake so you’ll know all the steps ahead of time and won’t have to stop to get your bearings—a move that could prove devastating, particularly to a soufflé.
Bonus tip: Oven orders.
As tempting as it may be, don’t keep opening your oven door to check doneness. Trust recipe cooking times and your intuition, since many foods—especially breads—need a consistently high temperature for the best, and tastiest, results. That temperature drops quickly when you initially open the door to put food in (which is why we often preheat our ovens 25 degrees hotter than the cooking temp) and with each subsequent open.