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Mise en Place - The Key to the Kitchen

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Translated, "Mise en Place" (pronounced: meez on plahss) means "To Put in Place". In other words, organize yourself and your workspace. There is nothing more important!

Now that the holiday season is here, parties and guests come and go to your house. This means endless preparations of meals. You can recall some of your kitchen disasters, and it probably resulted from disorganization and rushing around. All it takes is a little practice to avoid this unnecessary stress.

Here is a short list of guidelines to keep in mind when planning meals and menus:

  1. Study your recipe. Make sure you have everything.
  2. Have all food items ready to go. Measured, cut, and prepped.
  3. Have all necessary cookware and utensils at hand.
  4. Have all necessary serving items ready.
  5. Clean as you go! It's impossible to work in a mess!

Put this technique to work for you, and your kitchen experiences will all be a pleasure!

One simple way to reduce fat in food.
Using herbs, spices and additional flavorings to make up for removing fat when cooking meats is an effective method.

Since fat makes everything taste good (hence the reason we're all hooked on it), compensating with things like basil, curry, cumin, chilies, garlic, ginger, etc. enhance the flavor of the dish so you won't even miss it.

Experiment with different combinations and amounts of flavorings that you like. Simply stay within the cultural cuisine you're working with, whether it's Mediterranean, Asian, Cajun, etc. and the sky's the limit.

Other assorted tips:
Always start your meal preparation by using the freshest ingredients you can find. Fresh flavors go much further to enhance a meal's taste and satisfaction than using extra fat and sodium.

Strive for a balance of texture, flavor and temperature in the combination of dishes you serve. Our senses like variety which can be achieved by serving foods that complement each other, such as a crisp and bitter salad, combined with fish or chicken with a grilled finish, or a soup served with crusty bread.

Insure your portion sizes are in proportion to the amount of courses in your meal. For instance, if serving one appetizer, it can be larger than if you serve two before the entree. The same goes with the entree and the dessert. The overall size of the meal is important to keep in mind when designing menus.

Make some notes of whom you are serving. You wouldn't want to serve spicy Indian food to a guest with a very mild palate... and the reverse is also true. A bit of knowledge about your clientele and guests will go a long way to determining what you include in your menu.

Seasonal items are always important to keep in mind in menu design. Avoid expensive, imported, out-of-season items whenever possible, and focus on what you have readily available. It will be much cheaper.

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September 24, 2017

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