Back to basics, and loving it

back to basics

Caroline Gray is the editor of Easy Food magazine and has her finger on the pulse of Irish food trends. In this post, she shares why you can’t go wrong with the basics.

Caroline

When I was in journalism college and working at newspapers, an adage often scrawled across the blackboard or newsroom walls was KISS — “keep it simple, stupid.” First coined by the U.S. Navy in 1960, it advocates avoiding unnecessary complexity. It’s a principle that works in journalism, military theory and — my favourite — cooking.

Whether I’m cooking at home, dining out or creating recipes for Easy Food or our clients, I always find that the best food is done simply, and done well. Forget complicated recipes or exaggerated menu offerings; sticking to a foundation of perfected recipes is the key to churning out kitchen winners every time.

Valentine’s Day is an ideal time to whip up something special for that someone special, but even the most seasoned cooks feel a wave of mild panic at the task of cooking to impress. The key? Make something you’ve already mastered — whether that’s beef wellington or beans on toast — and add a new twist.

Experimenting with a small part of the recipe will add a special dimension to the dish without compromising its success as a whole. Try a different herb seasoning on the beef, or opt for artisan bread for your toast. Remember Bridget Jones’s infamous blue soup? Cooking for company is not the time to try a brand-new recipe, both for your sanity and their stomachs.

Restaurants are embracingthe basics by simplifying their menus and focusing on high-quality ingredients

Back to basics as a trend?

I love that restaurants are also taking heed of the shift back to basics. Burger eateries piling as many toppings onto their mile-high creations are being eclipsed by pared-back joints with menus the size of a business card. Emphasising top-quality ingredients and proper cooking techniques has guaranteed that even the simplest dish can be the tastiest. Personally, I can’t wait until the doughnut chains swap their icing-laden treats for old-fashioned cake doughnuts simply spiced with nutmeg or cinnamon.

When developing recipes for the magazine or clients, we always aim for the sweet spot where the familiarity of the comfort zone is slightly tweaked. Bolognese sauce over roast potatoes; banoffee pie cheesecake. In the Easy Food test kitchens, we’ll make a recipe over and over until we know we got it right. Once we know how to make the most perfect scone, roast chicken or seafood chowder, the possibilities on how to elevate these simple dishes are endless.

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