A Few Fast Tips for Cooking Fancy & Simple Food
Kosher salt. Salt & pepper shakers are cute table accessories but if you're using them with regularity, it means the food is under-seasoned. Kosher salt is coarse so you can pinch it with your fingers and get a feel for how much you're using. Season meat no less than an hour in advance or even a day or two ahead. For meat, use around 1/2 teaspoon per pound until you've developed a good feel for how much to use. If you don't have time to preseason, then do it the moment before you cook it.
Buy thick steaks. It's better to share thick steaks than serve individual thin ones because you have far more control over how they cook. Also, leave out a tip jar if you're feeding people on the reg - people are always happy to contribute a few bucks to the cause and it will quickly offset food costs.
Reverse sear steak. Contrary to tradition, it is far superior to gently cook thick steaks via indirect heat then sear them to finish. Set your oven to its lowest setting and cook your steak on a wire rack set on a baking sheet until it reaches an internal temperature about 10 degrees below your target then finish in a screaming hot cast iron pan. For example, cook to 120 in the oven then finish to 130 on the stove.
Use a digital, instant-read thermometer. If you plan on cooking meat with any kind of regularity in your life you simply must invest in one of these. Quality thermometers can be found for as little as $15.
Board sauce. A good steak needs nothing more than salt and pepper. A sauce can't hurt, but they can be intimidating to make. Instead, simply chop some herbs on a cutting board, drizzle with olive oil, and carve your steak on top. The juices that releases will form a delicious sauce to spoon over or mop up with each bite.
Splurge on produce. Even organic vegetables from a farmers market are relatively inexpensive compared to proteins.
Zest is free. Citrus is a huge salad upgrade. People tend to associate bitter tastes with citrus peels and therefore discard them, but the white "pith" between the peel and flesh is the real culprit. Zest citrus for a fragrant garnish then cut away the white pith. Slice your citrus fruit between the membranes to release segments of perfect citrus called 'supremes.' Juice the remains over the supremes to really intensify their flavor and juiciness.