YumSugarSource: Rudimentary Recipes Every Home Cook Should Know
January is a time of many resolutions, many among them culinary. Regardless of your skill level at the stove, it never hurts to go back to basics and focus on rudimentary recipes that are the building blocks for so many other dishes. These aren't too complicated or expensive, and once you master them, we reassure you that you'll use them over and over again. Here are 10 fundamental dishes that every home chef should know how to make.
- Simple Syrup: Your cocktail options are extremely limited if you don't have a little bar ingredient known as simple syrup on hand. The sugar-water mixture plays an essential role in classic drinks such as the old-fashioned, pisco sour, and caipirinha, and can also be used to soak sweets such as sponge and pound cakes.
- Roasted Garlic: If you have garlic, oil, and seasonings - and surely you do - then you're already set to make roasted garlic. Add it to an antipasti plate for a special homemade touch, or spread it on bread, whir it into mayonnaise, or stir it into mashed potatoes.
- Pâté Brisée: What do a tomato tart, apple pie, and quiche all have in common? The answer is pâté brisée, a basic pie crust.
- Guacamole: Who doesn't love the sublimely creamy texture of guacamole? First, nail down the elemental recipe with avocado, onions, garlic, cilantro, and lime. Once you've got that mastered, play around with variations that include adding tomatoes, bacon, or even pomegranate and mango for a sweet-tart kick.
- Meatloaf: Is there a more comforting protein than meatloaf? Stick to the crowd-pleasing ground beef version, or slim it down with a mix of ground turkey and shredded vegetables. For added deliciousness, try grating in some fresh cheddar cheese.
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- Shortbread: There's a reason the Girl Scouts sell shortbread every year - because the flaky butter cookie never goes out of style! For a new flavor, don't overlook the addition of spices like cardamom and anise, or dried berries, fruit peels, and nuts. Or, serve the straightforward cookies with an elegant pot de crème or whipped blackberry fool.
- Polenta: Polenta is like a blank canvas of starch. Serve it warm and creamy, as a side dish for meats, vegetables, and seafood. Enhance its ground corn flavor by melting in cheese or adding sun-dried tomatoes. Alternatively, cool it, roll it up into a log, refrigerate it, and slice it into rounds, which make a great base for just about any appetizer.
- Mashed Potatoes: Even more versatile than polenta are mashed potatoes. Add nothing more than salt and butter to retain a genuine potato flavor, or get crazy with mix-ins such as roasted garlic, manchego, or goat cheese. Use leftovers as a topping for homemade shepherd's pie.
- Vanilla Ice Cream: If you've never made ice cream before, then start with vanilla - a staple during Summer, but a regular indulgence all year round. From there, the options are endless: you can blend the frozen treat into a milkshake, sandwich scoops with cookies, or swirl in berry sauce.
- Marinara : Whether you're tossing it with a pasta, spreading it on pizza dough, or incorporating it into a party-ready dip, homemade marinara sauce is dressed to impress. To spice things up, stir in hot chile flakes or powder, add in cream, or incorporate capers, olives, and anchovies.
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