10 Essential Cooking Lessons of 2015

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

The best way to become a better cook is to head into the kitchen with a question. Beginning with the “how” is a great place to start, and so the question you come to The Kitchn asking is the one we love to answer. How do I make … ?

You asked, we answered, and this year we went back to the basics with classic recipes for stovetop burgers and baked chicken to newly minted favorites like vegan coconut yogurt and Internet-famous two-ingredient banana pancakes.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

These pancakes are gluten-free and dairy-free; they really are made with just bananas and eggs — no tricks. It seems like you’d just end up with scrambled banana-eggs (yuck), but the final product truly resembles a pancake — piping-hot and golden-brown, with crispy edges.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Those chewy noodles, that savory broth, the tender slices of beef — all those crunchy, spicy, herby garnishes we get to toss on top. On a cold evening, after a rough day at work, when we’re sick, on a lazy weekend afternoon — a bowl of piping-hot pho is pretty much always a good idea.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

This is the kind of recipe that belongs in your core arsenal as a home cook. It’s perfect for a crowd or when you want to cook a bunch of chicken for meals during the week, and it’s very easy to mix it up with fun spices or marinades.

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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

Shrimp are so easy — the effort-to-reward ratio is high with this particular seafood. Even pulled straight from the freezer, I can have a platter of quick-sautéed shrimp on the table in 15 minutes flat. Add a bowl of garlicky pasta or a leafy green salad, and dinner is a done deal.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Spoiler alert! It’s really just about the beef. Buy good beef, and you’ll have a great burger. It’s that simple.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Pack all your favorite noodle soup components into a jar or other heatproof vessel, but nix the broth. When you’re ready to eat, pour hot water over the top, let things warm up for a few minutes, and lunch is served.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

By simmering meaty bones with a handful of aromatic vegetables for hours — even days — you end up with a rich, nutritious, and deeply savory broth. It’s the kind of thing that’s perfect for sipping from a mug on a cold day, or for dressing up and turning into a hearty soup for dinner.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

This ice cream really is made with only two ingredients, requires no stovetop cooking, and can be made with just a hand mixer — or even, if you’re very industrious, a whisk and some upper-arm strength. No ice cream machine needed.

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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Bread, butter, garlic — that’s all you need for a truly outstanding, party-winning batch of garlic bread.

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(Image credit: Izy Hossack)

All the tangy, probiotic punches of dairy yogurt, with a lush vegan twist. Coconut lovers, this DIY recipe is for you.

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