One of the amenities of our student apartments in Missoula that we’re proudest of is the spacious kitchen layout with brand new appliances. These kitchens are perfect for our student residents to cultivate their culinary skills and master some staples that keep them healthy and happy! With how busy students’ lives can be, however, it can be challenging to make time for a homemade meal. This makes learning to make a quick, simple meal an important skill to develop! The biggest challenge when cooking simply is preparing meals that don’t sacrifice in the flavor or health departments. Luckily, there are a few tips we have for making every meal taste great, even when you’ve only got 15 minutes!
If you’ve got friends or neighbors in our community of Missoula student apartments who could use some cooking tips, we encourage you to help them out by sharing this post with them! For now, why don’t you check these tips out for yourself so you can get to cooking!
Turn Up The Heat
A common mistake people make when cooking—especially when they’re still learning the basics—is not getting a good sear on their meats and veggies. Many find a higher heat intimidating, but most stoves should be set to medium-high or so to make sure you’re getting a crispy, flavorful sear on your grilled foods.
That nice sear is important not just because it looks appetizing, but also because it’s the source of a ton of additional flavor that really makes grilled foods shine. Try Googling “Maillard reaction,” and you’ll see why a good sear is so essential! The Maillard reaction is responsible for a lot of flavorful compounds that can take a simple meal from bland and boring to packed with flavor.
To further promote that delicious sear, avoid over-stirring or over-flipping foods while grilling. In general, vegetables and meats can stand to sit in a hot pan with a little oil for a few minutes before they need to be stirred or flipped.
Use Fresh Ingredients
Using fresh ingredients can make all the difference in the world, especially when you’re working with a simple recipe. As often as you can, use fresh, not frozen ingredients, and make sure your spices, cooking fats (like butter and oil), and other pantry items aren’t past their best by dates (this also keeps your fridge smelling fresh and clean).
In the case of spices and other seasonings, the freshness of the ingredients can make a particularly big impact. Dried herbs are convenient because they keep for longer, but fresh rosemary, oregano, or sage can transform a dish visually as well as in flavor. Fresh parsley or basil can be added just before serving for additional flavor and color. Plus, a garnish of fresh herbs like these will make friends and family think you’re a master chef, even when you aren’t.
Season At Every Step
Speaking of seasonings, it’s important to season at multiple steps in the cooking process in order to ensure you’re getting the flavor payoff you want. A generous amount of salt should always go in water used to boil pasta and grains or poach eggs, chicken, or veggies. Salt and pepper are the essential seasonings for meats before they go into the pan or baking dish. Hardy herbs like rosemary can be added early on, while citrus or vinegar is an excellent tangy addition that should be saved for the end (right after you remove the pan from the heat).
Whenever possible, taste your meal as you go and add seasoning to taste. Not tasting as you go is the easiest way to end up with bland, boring meals without knowing where you went wrong. Obviously this isn’t always possible (don’t go eating raw meat or anything), but in general, it’s an integral part of the cooking process that often gets overlooked.
Now you know how to enhance any simple meal cooked at home in our student apartments in Missoula! If you found this post helpful and you want to see future recommendations, tips, and features, go ahead and bookmark our blog page for easy access to future posts! Beyond that, be sure to follow us on Instagram so you aren’t missing any community updates, events, and special offers! Bon appetit, residents!