There are some foods we love to eat but are too scared to cook. As a long time quasi-vegetarian, I didn't cook or eat some meats for years, but I really developed my repertoire of impressive poultry and seafood dishes! The challenge of creating meals that were festive and crowd-pleasing for holidays and dinner parties within my dietary limitations pushed me to try recipes that might have scared me off if I'd had more options available. When I did begin cooking other meats, that was intimidating too, but by then I had the confidence to forge ahead. Like most things, the only way to develop the skills to nonchalantly whip up a souffle is to exercise those cooking chops. (That's a pun, don't put chops in your souffle.) Here are some totally doable recipes that will have you feeling like a culinary rock star once you pull them off and give you the confidence to try more.
Some general tips before we start:
- Use a recipe. This isn't the time to wing it. You're not Top Chef.
- Use recipes with online reviews. Even if you find a recipe in a magazine, chances are it's on the mag's website too. Read the reviews. These will tell you both if it's a lousy recipe or more difficult than it seems, and if there are any tweaks or issues for the home cook you should be aware of.
- Read through the whole recipe ahead of time, and get all your ingredients completely prepared before you start cooking. I used to only read the recipe step-by-step, and then when it called for chopped onions I'd have to chop the onions on the spot and whatever was already in the pan would cook too long. Everything will go so much more smoothly and be less stressful if your ingredients are all ready to go.
- Print out your recipe. It's tempting to just look at a recipe on your phone or computer in a rush. But hands get messy. Print out the recipe and maybe even tape it to the wall near the stove or wherever you're prepping your ingredients so it's super easy to access when your hands are full or dirty.
- Pay attention to small ingredient details like chilled butter or room temperature eggs, they may seem like NBD but they're there for a reason. A small misstep here can cause a lot of frustration later.
- If you're cooking for guests or a special occasion, try the recipe out ahead of time. You never know what ingredient you could have trouble finding, if you'll discover a different size pot would have been better, if it takes longer than you expect. Practice makes perfect.