The days of your mother calling you into the dining room and placing a plate of steamy goodness right in front of you are over. You’re now what we call an “adult”, and hopefully you’re a somewhat independent one, too. You spend ample amounts of time being responsible: you go to work, pay taxes to your lovely government, and even try to take care of your health! Unfortunately, you may not have the time or knowledge to cook for yourself, so you end up hopping on your Seamless account and ordering away…
Since this is a new year, we hope that one of your resolutions is to learn to cook! We here at Gents Among Men decided to partner up with the new NYC-based personal chef startup, Eat In Chef, for a series of culinary tips and tricks designed to help you Master the Kitchen.
How to Stock Your Pantry
Now that you have the right tools in your kitchen, the next thing to do is to stock your fridge and pantry. My first piece of advice would be to make “real” purchases. For example, I’d suggest buying butter over margarine, or purchasing a block of cheese and grating it yourself rather than buying grated cheese in a bag. The fresher your ingredients are, the better your food will look and taste. When it comes to herbs, throw out your pre-packaged dry herbs and invest in fresh ones, which are perfect for marinating or making sauces and soups. If you find that you have extra herbs, you can always dry them yourself! It’s as easy as leaving them out in a dry area of your apartment, then picking and crushing them right off the stems.
Spice it Up
As for items that every pantry needs, make sure to have olive oil! It’s very versatile and goes a long way in the kitchen. It’s great for making salad dressings, marinating, and sauteing, just to name a few of its uses. You’ll thank me later. It’s also essential to have kosher salt and black peppercorns. Get yourself a pepper mill for that fresh-ground pepper taste and using a coarser salt, e.g. kosher, gives you a more control over your seasoning.
Every spice rack should have these staple items: onion and garlic powder, ground cumin, paprika, and something with a kick, like cayenne pepper or chilli powder. Depending on what cuisines you enjoy cooking, there are some other spices you should stock, too. I would recommend adobo for Latin-inspired dishes, curry powder and turmeric for Indian, and soy sauce, sesame seeds, and ginger for Asian-themed dinners.
Stocking Your Fridge: When to “Go Organic”
Let’s get into stocking your fridge and determining when it’s worth buying organic meats and produce. Some of the biggest reasons to “go organic” are as follows:
- Avoid ingesting growth hormones
- Avoid ingesting pesticides
- Prevent overdosing on antibiotics
- More nutritional value
- Better taste
- Protect the environment
- Better health and well-being of livestock
Beef is one of the foods for which you should always go organic. By purchasing beef that’s been certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), you’re cutting out growth hormones and avoiding the massive doses of antibiotics that cows typically receive.
What is the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15?
The following fruits and vegetables are considered the “Dirty Dozen”. These twelve items typically have the highest pesticide load, and thus are most important to buy organic:
- Sweet bell peppers
- Nectarines (imported)
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas (imported)
These fruits and vegetables, which make up the “Clean 15” list, meaning they are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residues. It’s not necessary to purchase the organic versions of these items due to the lack of pesticides:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Sweet potatoes
About Chef Jose
Chef Jose DeJesus is the Chief Culinary Officer at Eat In Chef and the culinary mastermind behind the Trill Pop-Up Dining Series. He has years of experience as both a private chef and in the restaurant industry, including a recent tenure as the Executive Sous Chef at La Marina, in Washington Heights, NYC.
About Eat In Chef
Eat In Chef is a NYC-based personal chef startup building lasting relationships and memories for its chefs and food-lovers alike. Whether for a casual dinner after a long day at work, date night, or wanting a nutritional makeover, Eat In Chef gives food-lovers full access to professional chefs from any electronic device, for any occasion. Their hand-selected chefs will receive your request, pick up fresh ingredients, and cook an unforgettable meal in your kitchen.
For more info about Eat In Chef, visit their website at EatInChef.com. They’re currently offering $10 off your first booking, so give them a try today!
Content provided by Chef Jose for Gents Among Men