I BEGAN WRITING about my son and his tricky eating habits six years ago. At the time, Achilles was only four and I was a cookbook author and restaurant critic for the New York Observer newspaper. The first book inspired by our dinner dynamic—my passion for food, his distaste for it—was a children’s book called “Can I Eat That?” It was an imaginary dialogue meant to foster a love of xiao long bao, tournedos and tostadas in young readers. I wanted to get away from the finger-wagging, carrot-and-stick routine Achilles and I had developed à table. Six children’s books later, it’s safe to say that, apart from content creation, the mission hasn’t been a success. Achilles only eats bread, pizza (without the sauce) and Parmesan fritters from a place near our house in Brooklyn that charges $10.95 for three paltry bâtonnets.
Whether they’re baking a basic birthday cake or properly blanching vegetables, all adults should know how to make certain foods. But that isn’t always the case, and many people have gaps in their cooking knowledge.
To help you make those key dishes even better, Insider asked three professional chefs how to upgrade 16 foods everyone should know how to cook.
Read on to see what they had to say.
Make super creamy mashed potatoes by boiling the potatoes in milk instead of water
To step up your mashed potatoes, boil the potatoes in salted milk instead of water, said Sara Hauman, the head chef at Soter Vineyards in Carlton, Oregon.
“After the potatoes have cooked, drain them and add soft butter to make super creamy — not even remotely greasy — mashed potatoes,” Hauman said. “For
Chef Regina Mitchell’s Zoom cooking class begins like a lot of Zooms: friendly banter, reminders to mute here, some technical adjustments there. A few minutes after the 4:30 p.m. start time, there are about 20 people on the call. The menu for tonight: a vegetable stir-fry and a lemongrass-ginger soda.
“The blind can cook!” she says to the camera and laughs. “People say when you have lemons, you make lemonade. I turn lemons into limoncello. Or a lemon pavlova.”
Mitchell, 60, became blind as an adult. She teaches cooking through the Nevada-based organization Blindconnect and its life skills-based program, Angela’s House. On the first and second Wednesdays of the month from her kitchen in the Las Vegas Valley, Mitchell emphasizes fun and skill-sharing to help visually impaired people feel comfortable in the kitchen.
Food and cooking are essential areas where those with disabilities can often be invisible or overlooked. But
When I picture my extended family, we’re all seated around a seder table that’s covered in matzo crumbs and Manischewitz. My dad strums “Ma Nishtanah” on the guitar while I snack on salt-slicked parsley and lock eyes with my sister, silently asking when the prayers end and the meal begins.
Each spring Jewish families gather to recount the biblical tale of Exodus, when the Israelites escaped bondage in Egypt via locust swarms and parted seas. Passover is a festival of stories and song, ritual and resistance. And because we’re Jews, it’s symbolized with food. At the center of the table, a decorative platter—the seder plate—displays the foods that have guided the night’s ceremony for generations: matzo, roast shankbone, bitter herbs, spring vegetables, and charoset studded with nuts and fruit. And for eight days (or seven, if you’re in Israel), we go without the usual bagels and pita, cleansing our homes