Recreate Your Favorite Restaurant Meals at Home
Homemade New England Lobster Roll with Lemons )
With the state not yet fully reopening and our dining-out culture still impacted, many have gotten more creative in the kitchen. Even with all of the recipes available online, there's nothing quite like your favorite dish from your favorite restaurant.
Unfortunately, most cannot order takeout every night so we have asked the experts from local restaurants to share some professional tips on how to recreate restaurant-quality meals at home.
Grand Apizza Clinton
9 East Main Street, 860-669-1204
Grand Apizza Madison
734 Boston Post Road, 203-245-8438
Grand Apizza Guilford
381 Boston Post Road, 203-533-7255
The way to create the perfect pizza at home is by first getting dough from your local pizzeria and not the supermarket," says Michael Nuzzo, owner of Grand Apizza. "This will give you a much easier time stretching the dough and getting it into the perfect shape. Second is by using Italian plum tomatoes, and 100% mozzarella. Third is make sure your oven is preheated to 475-500 degrees with a pizza stone for the best flavor, if not a cookie sheet will also work. Before you toss the pizza in the oven put a little bit of breadcrumbs on the pizza peel/stone/cookie sheet. Lastly, drizzle a little olive oil around the crust to crisp it up nicely. After about 10 minutes, depending on your liking, you should have the perfect pizza result.
Dockside Seafood & Grill
145 Block Island Road, Branford
I put my lobster meat–tail and claw–in a cast iron skillet with a lot of butter, squeezed lemon, and a pinch of salt over my grill outside and let it steep and take on the flavors in the pan as well as a little smokiness from the grill," says Traci Planinshek and Susan Jaskot, owners of Dockside Seafood and Grill. "Serve on a grilled and buttered bun with cole slaw on the side. That's my idea of the perfect meal for your deck.
6 Main Street, Chester
Salt your water when cooking pasta–there is such a thing as too little and too much; two tablespoons of salt per gallon of water is a happy medium," says Chef Joel Gargano. "You're going to want to use some of that pasta water to form sauces and if it's too salty, it will destroy your sauce. Don't be afraid of the salt, just use it properly.
"Pasta and sauce should come together as part of preparation, meaning don't just pour the sauce on top of your noodles and serve," adds Gargano. "Have your sauce [Marinara, Bolognese, alla Vodka] warmed in a separate pot. Once your pasta is cooked 90 percent of desired doneness, strain it, but keep some of the pasta water. In the larger pot that you boiled the pasta in, transfer the pre-warmed sauce to the larger pot along with the cooked pasta. Stir over low heat for at least one to two minutes. Let the pasta cook in the sauce. If it starts to dry up, add some of the reserved pasta water.
"You may have your favorite pasta sauce recipe down perfectly, but I bet there isn't enough fat in it," adds Gargano. "Want to take it to the next level? Save the fat from your rendered guanciale and add that in when finishing the pasta at the final stage. Or add butter–one tablespoon per portion of pasta. Extra virgin olive oil does wonders, one tablespoon per portion of pasta added into the sauce as the pasta is being cooked in the final stage. We call this glazing the pasta. And don't be afraid to re-season the sauce with more salt.
196 Montowese Street, Branford
For meats like burgers, dogs, chicken, and steaks, it's best to start with your meat at room temperature, if possible, for a more even cook," says Lauren Richitelli, chef at The Stand. "The first thing is to make sure your grill is super hot. I hold my hand over it and if I can't hold it over for more than three seconds, it's hot enough. You also want to oil the product instead of the grill–the lighter the oil, the better. Once you're cooking, if you try to turn the meat and it's not pulling off, let it sit until it turns easily to get those nice grill marks. For vegetables on the grill, it's good to put them on a perforated pan instead of right on the grill. For both proteins and vegetables, you want to season them right before you cook and if you use a marinade, don't put a lot of acidic ingredients in–lemon juice, vinegars, even salt–as it could start to cook the meat.
Savour Café and Bakery
90 Main Street, Centerbrook
Cookies are the easiest thing for a home baker to start with for anyone looking to hone their skills," says Megan Pielli, pastry chef at Savour Café and Bakery. "Some things to remember are preheating the oven and taking ingredients out before you need them because everything should be at room temperature. When you make your cookie dough, scoop it right away when it's fresh and soft, then let it rest in the fridge for about an hour. Bake only what you are going to eat that day and then freeze the rest. To freeze the dough, lay the scooped dough on a sheet tray and freeze it. Once they're frozen, put the frozen dough in a Ziploc bag to store. When you want them, you can bake from frozen maybe for a few extra minutes.
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .