3 Simple Steps to Improve Your Plate
Easy Techniques to Elevate Mealtime
Mealtime should be a multi-sensory experience; see, smell, taste. These 3 easy tips make a world of difference and take your meal-prep to the next level, making everything both nutritious AND delicious.
1. An organized kitchen is a successful kitchen
Mise en place is a French cooking term that means “to put in place.” Simply put, it means setting up your ingredients and determining sound preparation practices before you begin cooking. Following the lessons of “mise en place” saves time and also helps create a more efficient kitchen. It also helps our amazing chefs stay on their A-game.
2. Simple scratch cooking is in the sauce
One of the rudimentary thickening agents in culinary preparation is called a “roux.” Roux is made of equal parts fat and flour and is mainly used to thicken sauces, gravies, and soups. The flour is whisked into a hot fat, then cooked to remove the raw flour taste. Traditionally, the fat used is clarified butter due to its ability to withstand a higher temperature without browning. But whole butter also works fine.
A demi-glace, or demi-glaze, is made by reducing a stock down to a thick, concentrated form. Traditional demi-glace is made of veal stock, and it is simmered for hours until it is reduced by half. The result is a thick, rich sauce with intense flavors.
For shortcut demi-glaze, bring 2 quarts of beef stock mixed with 2 tablespoons red wine to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for several hours until reduced to about 2 cups. When it coats and sticks to the back of a spoon, you have the right consistency, and voila – demi glaze!
A vinaigrette is a sauce for salads and greens made from three parts oil to one part acid, like fresh citrus juice or vinegar (balsamic, red, sherry, etc.) Adding extra flavor is easy by mixing in herbs, garlic, shallots, Parmesan, honey, Dijon, or spices.
Barbecue sauce is one of the simplest to make. Just mix ketchup, sugar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and spices.
Fresh garlic and herbs make a delicious compound butter that instantly upgrades any meal. It’s perfect for steaks, corn on the cob, or to spread on fresh bread.
- 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup, softened)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined
- Place on a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a log; twist ends to seal well
- Refrigerate at least 1 hour
3. Cooking techniques for nutrition and presentation
Roasting is a great option for cooking root vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and carrots. It’s also good for other vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, and cabbage. Tomatoes can be roasted, too!
What you’ll need:
- Vegetables! All sorts of vegetables!
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
Line the baking tray with parchment paper; arrange veggies on the tray while allowing for lots of space. Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. From there, cook 25 to 40 minutes at 425°F. You will impress everyone!
Grilling is a form of cooking that involves dry heat applied to the surface of the food. Just about anything can be grilled. Bonus: It works as an excellent emergency plan during power outages.
In the words of Julia Child, “You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.”
DiningRD is committed to improving dining and nutrition services in healthcare communities through expert clinical consulting, innovative menu solutions, and training support for foodservice leaders and teams. Everything you need can be found with a quick phone call to one of our helpful professionals or a visit to www.diningrd.com.