“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces – just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child
People often think that just because I am a chef that my family eats fancy French food every night. The truth is yes, I do cook almost every night but Steak Au Poivre and Creme Brulee are not usually on the menu. I’m just like everyone else, I look at the clock around 3, take a deep breath and if I don’t already know what I’m cooking you’ll find me wandering around the aisles at the grocery store looking for some kind of inspiration.
Tonight’s meal was inspired by potatoes. I recently had a client cancel a class that left me with 10 pounds of baby red potatoes. I hate wasting food so potatoes it was. The menu would read;
Pan Seared Pork Chops with Garden Fresh Thyme, Oregano and Lemon
Roasted Spring Asparagus with Mediterranean Sea salt.
Oven Roasted Baby Reds with Fresh Rosemary and Whole Grain Mustard
What started out with plain potatoes, pork chops and asparagus turned into a mouthwatering healthy meal that was every bit as fancy as something you would pay money for at a restaurant. I know that you are saying ” but that’s because a chef prepared it”. Not true, what I realized was that it wasn’t my skill in the kitchen as much as it was having flavor building ingredients ready on hand that transformed my basic dinner into an entree.
Everyone can cook, it’s not difficult, we all just need a little bit of help being prepared “to cook”. I’m always so happy when I have a new client or friend (Sarah) realize that cooking isn’t as hard as they thought. The key is to have a few basic skills and simple ingredients on hand. I once worked with a chef who could make something out of nothing with some leftovers, soy sauce and a jar of jelly, no joke. And it was some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. But if making something out of nothing isn’t your skill, stock your kitchen with a garlic press, sharp knife, a lemon zester, salts and good olive oil. Plant an herb garden in a pot outside your kitchen, you would be amazed how fresh herbs can turn average potatoes into soul satisfying comfort food in minutes. Stocking your kitchen is just as important as buying the kids school supplies or picking up your dry cleaning for work. Everyone “can” cook as easily as they would drive thru or sit down and order, the difference is that when you prepare your food, you know exactly what is going into it. Feeding yourself and your family fresh, simple, real food? Who wouldn’t “want” to do that?
Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Whole Grain Mustard
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
3 pounds small red potatoes-halved ¼ cup olive oil 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt ½ teaspoon black pepper 1Tabespoon fresh garlic-minced 1 Tablespoon whole grain mustard
Preheat oven to 425 degrees – place rack in the upper middle shelf
Rinse and dry potatoes and cut in half
In a small bowl combine olive oil, rosemary, salt/pepper, garlic, and whole grain mustard
In a large bowl toss potatoes with olive oil and herbs
Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy clean up) and spread potatoes out evenly cut side down
Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes –turn potatoes over and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes Potatoes are ready when fork tender and golden brown- Serve warm