Most chefs say that cooking is an art. Most artists I know are talented from the get go, so to help make that art something that everyone can do themselves without too much of a hassle, I have created a list of basic top ten recipes everyone should know by heart.
These top ten recipes are very simple, hence the requirement to store them in your memory rolodex. No one would be able to remember them if they were complicated. You can do a lot with the following recipes, and most of them you can build off of and make other dishes. So study up and get ready to make your cooking life a little easier.
This is the simplest one of all that I am going to give you. It’s two ingredients, you can’t get any easier than that. Well, I guess it could be one ingredient but then it wouldn’t be a recipe now would it? A roux is basically a thickening agent for sauces, stews, and gumbo. One part flour to one part fat. That’s it. The fat is usually butter, but you can also use oil. The ratio is 1 tablespoon each per 1 cup of liquid used. If you are opting for a thicker sauce, you can up the roux or lower the liquid.
2. Basic Tomato Sauce
The basic tomato sauce or pomodoro, is so simple – yet so good. Once you master this, you can build onto it and make a bolognese, add it to lasagna, make pizza, whatever! Make yours with this Basic Tomato Sauce
3. Barbecue Sauce
There are tons of bbq recipes out there, and I am not asking you to master them all. I just want you to know that there is a base that you can use and then tweak your favorite recipe from there. Basically, if you are out of bbq sauce, you should be able to know if you have the basic ingredients before you look up a recipe or waste a trip to the store. These seven ingredients will get you there: 1 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 cup water, 1/3 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon each onion and garlic powder and a teaspoon of cayenne. But basically, if you can’t remember the measurements just remember ketchup is the most, a little less water, a small amount of vinegar, less sugar than vinegar and the spices are to taste. Add other ingredients as you see fit. Here is the printable recipe.
This one is a no brainer. When you can make your own salad dressing, you know you have arrived. Except, the secret is that there really is nothing to it. A few quick ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen, use a whisk, shaker or a mini processor to blend and you are done. The formula is typically three parts oil to one part vinegar, a little sugar (if you are working towards a sweeter dressing), salt and pepper to taste. You can step it up a notch and add herbs if you like too. That’s it! To make different kinds just alter the vinegar (balsamic, raspberry, strawberry, etc) and to make it creamy, just add some mayo.
5. Buerre Blanc Sauce
Buerre blanc is a light butter sauce that is great for fish dishes and chicken piccata. Another super simple, low ingredient recipe for your pleasure. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a skillet with juice from 2 lemons, 1/2 cup dry white wine and let the mixture reduce to half. Add two more tablespoons of butter and swirl. That was so easy!
6. Bechamel White Sauce
When it comes to sauces, the bechamel (also known as a cream sauce) is one of the five “mother sauces” in which you can build many sauces from. It starts with a roux – which we already covered in number one – and just add a cup of cream or milk and a 1/4 teaspoon of salt. That is your basic cream sauce. The classic bechamel goes a bit further, but that is all you need to know for now. Add some cheese and you have just made a cheese sauce for a great mac and cheese!
Bread is so easy and cheap to make yet most people don’t do it themselves. It just sounds so intimidating! Here is a simple recipe that will help you get going. Add one packet of instant yeast to one cup of tepid water. Let it sit 5 minutes then add one teaspoon salt, one tablespoon of honey (or your preferred sweetener) and 3 cups flour. Mix it all together and knead it or throw those ingredients in your bread machine. Done. If you need a tutorial on kneading out the dough, I will post one later this month.
There are many different recipes for a pie crust and many schools of thought on whether to use all-butter, all-shortening or a combination of both. I’m just giving you an all-butter because it’s the easiest to make (and store in the memory rolodex) and you get great results every time. This recipe makes one double pie (bottom and top crust) or two single pies. Start with dicing up two sticks of butter and keep it in the fridge until ready to use so that it stays cold. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon each salt and sugar. Work the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter and bring it all together with 1/4-1/2 cup ice cold water. If you need a tutorial on rolling out the dough, keep an eye on my blog.
9. Chicken Noodle Soup
I guarantee that at some pont in your life you will be craving some chicken noodle soup like grandma used to make, or your significant other or children will be begging for it when the cold bug hits them. You are going to want to deliver, and you are going to want to rival grandma. There are only like six ingredients in chicken noodle soup and the key is making your own stock. A whole chicken, one cup each of onion, celery and carrots, some minced garlic, parsley, salt and pepper. Get this easy, no fail recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup
They say if you can cook an egg, you are headed in the right direction. So I’m throwing in an omelete for good measure. What you need are just eggs, milk, butter (for the pan) and the filling of your liking. Using a whisk, beat your eggs with about a tablespoon of milk, or more depending on how many eggs you start with, until they scream for mercy. No seriously, beat the heck out of them and teach them whose boss. Pour them into your heated, buttered pan and wait for the bottom to firm. Distribute some of the liquid on top by pulling the sides towards the middle of the pan and let the rest of the eggs get firm. Add your toppings and fold over. Whalah, omelete!
Now that you have your mind filled with the basic top ten recipes, get cooking and go show them off!