Jose Duarte prepares causa
The online video cookbook how2heroes celebrated its one-year anniversary at the Bulthaup Kitchen Showroom last night in a manner fitting its mission: with cooking pros teaching partygoers the tricks of the trade.
Front and center throughout the party were live demonstrations of dishes that ranged from the traditional to the exotic. New England Soup Factory’s Marjorie Druker showed the crowd how to make a gazpacho with strawberry and pineapple, while Taranta’s Jose Duarte prepared causa, a Peruvian dish made from layers of yellow potatoes, crab meat, avocado, and tomato. Still, it was liquid libations, not solid concoctions, that were popular with the crowd. The line for cocktails remained steady for the evening, handily beating out lingering finger-foodies standing by the main spread.
In keeping with the how-to spirit of the evening, we asked some of the heroes at the party to share their best tips for making home cooking taste like restaurant-quality fare. There was a general sentiment that the emphasis on sustainability is growing. According to Duarte, “Origins are important. Try to work with local, organic sustainable products. It’s very important these days to avoid large amounts of carbon footprints in your food.” For the price-conscious consumer, personal chef Mary Reilly suggested referring to the Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides, which lists the fruits and vegetables in conventional produce that have the highest pesticide levels. “You can make those choices for your health, but also for your pocketbook,” she said.
Some more tips for cooking like a pro after the jump:
Chef & Owner, New England Soup Factory
“You have to shop two or thre times a week so you can keep your ingredients really fresh and maintain their integrity. Russo’s in Watertown is a great resource when you can’t go to farmer’s markets, with a magnificent supply of everything that’s just on the verge of peaking, whether it be fresh strawberries or mangoes or lettuce. Build a collection of things, whether it’s oils or condiments, that are going to pump up and make your food exciting.”
Chef & Owner, Bread & Chocolate
“Get the best ingredients you can afford, but most importantly, people have have to pay attention to their senses. Don’t just follow the recipe, but actually feel it and taste it and smell it. If you have something in the oven, it’ll tell you long before the timer goes off that it’s almost done if you’re paying attention. If you actually look at your batter, you’ll know if it doesn’t look right. I use Callebaut chocolate which is available at Whole Foods, King Arthur flour, Instead of using generic butter, use high-fat butter. If you’re going to have dessert, instead of having a lot of mediocre dessert, have a little bit of some really good dessert.
Chef & Owner, Taranta
“Quality ingredients are fundamental. You can’t build a good house without good cement. In New England, we have great shellfish, awesome Stony Island clams, and great oysters, so you can buy from a lot of regional fish markets the local products. There’s a small fish market in the North End called Mercato del Mare, and they have really good seafood year-round.”
Susie Anderson & Chelsee Adams
Bloggers, We Are Not Martha
Chelsee: “When I moved into my own apartment, I didn’t even know how to boil pasta. I lived at my parents’ house and they were big into cooking but I’d never done it. I just learned to keep trying and trying and trying. It’s a lot of trial and error.
Susie: “You need to season properly. A lot of new cooks forget that. Salt and pepper can do wonders. The biggest thing to remember is don’t be intimidated. What’s the worst that could happen? If you screw up, it’s not such a big deal.”
Personal Chef, The Savory Kitchen
“Ingredients are really important. You don’t have to do everything high-end but you want to for a couple things, like real parmigiano-reggiano cheese and real pancetta. It’s not that a lower grade cheese doesn’t have its place, but if you really want to make sure that you’re having a restaurant quality experience at home, high quality restaurants aren’t going to use stuff from the green can. What’s nice is that if you’ve got some things on hand, like good quality dried pasta, real parmigiano-reggiano, nice olive oil, great sea salt and ground pepper, you’ve got a really nice pasta dish right there. You don’t have to go out for it. [The cheese] will last for weeks in your refrigerator and when you need it, you’ll be ready to go.”
[Photos: Lena Chen]