Who wouldn’t like to cook a luxury meal every day? Everyone would, if it wasn’t extremely effortful, of course. We looked into the elements that separate luxury meals from everyday impromptu meals and came up with a formula to help you make every meal a luxury meal. The next meal you make will leave your family feeling as confused as someone who has just witnessed a complete makeover. If what you’re looking for is improving your cooking style to make the simplest meal look like something straight out of Masterchef, this article is for you.
Cuisines are like food accents. Take common food like rice, for example. It has the potential to be the blandest food ever, doesn’t it? Not in Italy, though. Have you ever tried risotto? It’s absolutely magnificent. Never thought rice could be made sweet? Try the Filipino dish, Champorado. Sometimes the most luxurious factor you need isn’t expensive, ultra-rare ingredients, but a change in the way you make your regular same-old meal. Not all of it, either, as you can pull off a risotto with your regular grilled chicken.
Incorporating more colors in your food has more than one perk. First, it’s a great way to add more vegetables, and therefore, more nutrients. Second, it makes for a beautiful-looking plate. Third and most importantly, colors can be used to highlight ingredients through contrast and create a visual narrative/balance. Say you’ve cooked a casserole or a meat pie, adding a hint of color in the form of a crisp, refreshing, acidic salad can upgrade your whole meal. The crisp texture and fresh mouth-feel of the salad contrast the warmth of a casserole. Plus, have you ever seen the pros cook large food items? The larger foods, steaks, and lasagnas, for example, are often coupled with smaller foods (salads and potato variations) to create a sense of contrast in size.
What’s wrong with the supermarket, some may ask. Well, what isn’t? Supermarket meats are cheaper for a reason. They’re bought cheaply from a company that cuts corners to make a profit which could be all kinds of dangerous. When you compare that to buying organic mince straight from a family farm, which do you think would taste better? The same way an undernourished human would have bad skin and dull hair, an undernourished animal’s meat won’t taste the same as a well-fed and cared-for animal. If you want a luxury meal, put quality first.
Garnish goes a long way. It’s not that piece of herb that you throw aside once your food arrives. Sure, many might do that, but from the moment their plate arrives and until the moment they decide to throw it away, they consider that plate fancy. With garnish, always think about color and theme. If you’re garnishing a dark brown steak, you’ll want to add a green garnish to take the edge off. Let’s say, your steak was cooked in rosemary butter, why not add some rosemary as a garnish on top of the steak? Are you serving it next to some pasta? Put a couple of basil leaves on that meat then! Including a garnish is just a simple touch but it goes a long way. You just have to trust your artistic self.
There are two parts to gourmet cooking. The first is cooking the food, second is putting it on a plate. The first tip to help you master the art of plating is: pick the right plate. The plate you pick should not be too big that the food feels too small in comparison, it should not be too small as well that you can’t eat without spilling. The second tip is: opt for the vertical. Which sounds fancier, two grilled-cheese sandwich halves laid evenly on a plate or, the two halves, one partly resting on top of the other? The second one is more structurally appealing to the eye, and it makes the plate feel fuller. Last but not least, always wipe down your plate before serving. After you plate your food, grab a kitchen cloth or napkin and wipe the food bits on the edges of the plate. Even if you do nothing else, this small step will massively upgrade your meal’s look.
As you see, putting the “extra” in the word “extraordinary” doesn’t take a lot. All you need is the willingness to change a few things about how you normally cook. The best thing is, if you keep this up, little by little, luxury will become your normal. What you want to keep in mind though is love. What makes a home meal is the love and warmth felt in each bite. Don’t get so lost in appearances that you forget to pour your love into what you’re making.