Many factors can turn a good cook into a great one, but there are five standout tricks chefs swear by to elevate anyone’s skills.
Soaking scallions and onions in acid like vinegar or lemon juice, even for a minute, softens their sharpness
A versatile ﬂavour booster will take even the most basic dish to the next level, and it doesn’t need to be complicated. This herby version is a refreshing bite of parsley, cilantro, and mint, and it requires no cooking. Experiment with different spices, chiles, garlic, and olive oil, and ﬁnish with a touch of acid.
GRILLED SHRIMP WITH SALSA VERDE
START TO FINISH: 20 MINUTES
> 450g shrimp
1. Zest the lime into a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon juice, then stir in the scallion whites; set aside. Finely chop cilantro, parsley, and mint. Add to the bowl, along with the capers, peppers, and ¼ cup oil. Stir and season to taste with salt.
Put faith in your marinade
It’s the quickest way to add depth. Start with olive oil and follow with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice to tenderise, onion for richness, herbs or spices for complexity, mustard for savoury notes, and ﬁnally a sweetener like honey to caramelise.
ROSEMARY GRAPEFRUIT MARINATED PORK TENDERLOIN AND BEETS
START TO FINISH: 35 MINUTES (PLUS MARINATING)
> Chopped fresh parsley, for serving
1. With a vegetable peeler, remove 4 strips of peel from the grapefruit. Squeeze ¾ cup juice from the grapefruit into a small bowl. Whisk in the mustard, oil, and 2 tablespoons honey, then stir in the garlic, rosemary, and grapefruit zest. Divide between 2 large resealable plastic bags. Put the beets in one bag and the pork in the other. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 230 deg C. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
3. Put the pork on the baking sheet, wiping off excess marinade, then rub the remaining 1 tablespoon honey on top of the pork. Remove the beets from the marinade and scatter around the pork. Season everything with salt and pepper.
4. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the pork registers 60 deg C, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest. Meanwhile, stir the beets and return to the oven. Roast until the beets are tender, about 7 minutes longer.
5. While the pork and beets roast, strain the marinade into a small saucepan. Discard the solids. Bring the marinade to a boil, then boil until reduced to a syrupy glaze, about 8 minutes. Keep warm.
Balance ﬂavours and textures
Every good dish nails the perfect combo of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy, plus crunchy, chewy, creamy, and tender. The best way to master this is by composing a great salad, like the one here. Taste as you create, noticing where to add more acid to balance the oil and nuts to add meatiness to the veggies.
CELERY ROOT SALAD WITH ASIAN PEAR AND POPPY SEED YOGURT DRESSING
START TO FINISH: 20 MINUTES
> ¼ cup fresh ﬂat-leaf parsley, sliced
1. In a large bowl, whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, oil, poppy seeds, chile ﬂakes, and a pinch of salt. Adjust seasonings to your preference.
2. Add celery root, pear, apricots, pistachios, and parsley. Toss until well-coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Toss again before serving.
ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH PROSCIUTTO CRISPS AND FRESH FIGS
START TO FINISH: 45 MINUTES
> 6 fresh ﬁgs, halved
1. Put a half-sheet pan on the ﬂoor of the oven. Preheat oven to 220 deg C.
2. In a large bowl, toss the vegetables with the oil, prosciutto, thyme, and a pinch each of salt and pepper until coated. Carefully transfer the hot pan to a wire rack, then spread the vegetables in a single layer.
Caramelise your roasted vegetables
Amp up a simple pasta
You add decadence by doing as the Italians do and undercooking your pasta – even less than al dente – then tossing the noodles in simmering sauce. This will make the pasta actually soak up the goodness so that the ﬂavour is bold and intensiﬁed.
LINGUINE WITH SPICY ITALIAN SAUSAGE, BUTTERNUT SQUASH, AND PECORINO
START TO FINISH: 25 MINUTES
> 30g Pecorino Romano, grated
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings in bits and into the skillet. Cook until the bottoms are browned, about 3 minutes, then push to one side of the skillet. Add the onion and garlic to the other side, season with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir with the sausage and push to one side of the skillet.
3. Add the remaining tablespoon oil to the other side of the skillet and add the squash. Season with salt and pepper and stir to coat with the oil. Add green vegetables. Stir with the sausage and onion, spread in an even layer, and add ½ cup of the boiling salted water. Cover and cook until squash is tender, about 8 minutes.
4. Add linguine to the boiling water and boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, 8 minutes. With tongs, transfer the noodles to the squash mixture. Reserve cooking water. Toss well and add half the cheese. Continue tossing until noodles are al dente, about 2 minutes. If the sauce seems dry, toss in ¼ cup pasta water.