CE:On your show, you offer a lot of easy cooking techniques and ingredient suggestions. Do you think this takes away some of the fear and intimidation that people have about cooking?
KN: Yes, I would like to think the show is a good guide and I hope people feel “if she can do it, I can do it.” I really like to inspire people who are just becoming familiar in the kitchen, whether they’re cooking for the first time, as a newlywed, or maybe they’ve never enjoyed cooking but all of a sudden want to become more involved.
CE:In your recipes, you don’t seem to use that many ingredients. Why is it important for people to know that they don’t have to buy a lot of different ingredients?
KN: When I was first learning to cook, I would never make a recipe that had more than 10 ingredients. Especially when you’re first starting, you want recipes to be very approachable. And, if possible, you want to already have the ingredients on hand. Fresh pasta is one of those dishes that is perfect for this. While it seems so classy, elegant and difficult, about 90% of Americans have the ingredients they need to make fresh pasta in their kitchen.
CE:Do you want people to dive into your recipes, change them and make them their own?
KN: Absolutely, that’s a concept that is very important to me. Now that I have the basic skills, I don’t rely on cookbooks anymore and that’s where cooking has become fun. It allows me to use my creativity in the kitchen. It’s great to come home, open my fridge and see what I can do with what I have. That’s where you really get to flex those creativity muscles.
CE:For Clean Eating, you put together a tilapia dish. What are some essential tips that apply to preparing this recipe?
KN: When preparing fish, a good skillet is an essential tool for pan searing. Having a skillet that can go from stove to oven is definitely an essential kitchen tool because it eliminates the need to have another baking dish that has to be stored somewhere else.
BACK TO BASICS
Kelsey offers her advice for simplifying (and enjoying) your time in the kitchen. It’s easier than you think – she promises!
Learn the nuts and bolts of cooking. Then, as you move forward, you can build on one lesson after another. If you learn how to make a basic dish, then you can take it in 10 different directions.
Read the recipe. It sounds like common sense, but remember to read recipes all the way through before you begin and make sure you have everything you need on hand. If all of your ingredients are in front of you and you know what to expect, then you are guaranteed to have more success. You wouldn’t want to get halfway through a dish and not be sure about a temperature or realize you forgot to preheat the oven.
Make dishes you like. If you love banana cream pie, learn how to make it. Or, better yet, create it as your signature dish! When you’re really looking forward to eating what you’re making, it makes your experience in the kitchen that much more enjoyable.
Get your hands on the right tools. Invest in a good sharp knife. When you become comfortable using a knife, it becomes like an extension of your arm. Tasks become faster and easier in the kitchen and you’ll actually enjoy chopping vegetables. A good set of tongs is a great buy too. Whether you’re working with proteins, checking the temperature of something or flipping food over, tongs make almost every job a bit easier.