Nothing’s more satisfying than having a vast repertoire of recipes. You can whip up an excellent meal for unexpected guests; no cliché dishes. Plus, you don’t have to go to the trouble of following tedious recipes. You just happen to know the steps by heart.
It takes time, however, to build such a vast body of knowledge. Our grandmothers have spent decades expanding their cooking repertoire, so did professional cooks who have spent hours in a commercial kitchen. So if you’re serious about learning how to cook recipes by heart, spend your vacation, gap year, or your weekends at your student accommodation practicing in your kitchens.
Create Variations on Your Meals
You don’t have to start with entirely new dishes to expand your repertoire. Instead of busting out Julia Child’s cookbook, start with what you already know and make variations. After all, you might not have the time to experiment with a bunch of recipes.
Take Ina Garten’s advice: simply upgrade your current repertoire. Identify ten recipes that you love to eat and feel comfortable preparing. Then, create three variations for each one—you can change the proteins, make a different sauce, or swap the vegetables. Voila, you have successfully multiplied your current menu.
Invest in Kitchen Tools
Some kitchen utensils instantly expand your capabilities. Although countless cooking blogs can teach you hacks to overcome whatever’s lacking in your tools, some tools are simply indispensable to some recipes. Plus, they make cooking much more enjoyable. So if you can, save up for a kitchen tool that you think will help you create more dishes.
For instance, if you’re an avid baker, a stand mixer is heaven-sent. It enables amateur bakers to prepare advanced dishes such as meringues, marshmallows, and pavlova. Yes, you can do without a stand mixer, but if you are determined to fortify your baking prowess, a stand mixer is a handy tool.
Practice Your Knife Skills
Knife skills are one of the first things culinary students learn, and understandably so. Excellent knife skills not only slash off preparation time, but it also creates an appealing appearance and a consistent texture in any dish. By practicing your knife skills, you can easily practice new dishes.
While you’re at it, you can also practice essential skills every home cook needs to master to take on any culinary challenge. These include melting chocolate, cooking pasta, making stock, and roasting chicken.
Try Dishes from Other Cultures
If you consider yourself an expert in one cuisine, maybe it’s time to expand your repertoire by venturing out into the cuisine of different cultures. Here are some easy dishes you can try:
- Chicken Tikka Masala — Chicken cooked in creamy curry sauce
- Chinese-Style Lemon Chicken — Crunchy chicken with savory lemon sauce
- Kimchi Fried Rice — Rice cooked with delicious kimchi
- Shakshuka — Poached eggs in a hearty tomato sauce
One more thing — have fun while expanding your repertoire! The best part of cooking is discovering what works and what tastes best. You don’t have to follow the strict menus and recipes online. Build a culinary repertoire for yourself.