Dr Colin Knight has had an impressive medical career that has spanned over the past quarter of a decade. However, many do not know that he is a talented cook and is able to whip up a number of dishes from a wide variety of cuisines. Dr Knight started cooking at a young age and cooked most days through medical school. Now as a master of some of the world’s finest cuisines, he has sold his cooking skills to silent auction winners around the Miami area. Here are some of his top tips and tricks in the Kitchen.
What is your favorite dish to make at home and why?
I enjoy making fresh pasta because it is hands-on, something that most people don’t know how to do, only uses two ingredients, and is delicious.
What is the most challenging dish you have made and why is it so challenging?
We have a chef in our family who lives in another city. For years when we would cross paths, he would tell me that we need to cook together. When we finally had the chance, I had thought of two technique-heavy dishes to try under his tutelage. The first is consommé, a clarified broth. The magic of making consommé is that you make a “raft” to clarify it. The raft is made of egg whites and meat. I had read about making one but had never tried it myself. The other dish I wanted try was chicken ballotine. A chicken ballotine is a chicken that has been deboned, stuffed, and wrapped and cooked in its own skin. The knife work for boning and skinning the bird required close coaching. We used the bones as the base for the stock to make the consommé.
What is one dish that looks complicated but is actually quite straight forward to make?
Chocolate lava cakes. The recipe I used takes 10 minutes to make, 10 minutes to bake, and can be enjoyed after 10 minutes of cooling. Amazing desert that always is a crowd pleaser.
Have you ever had any kitchen disasters?
The worst disaster I ever has was having a 5-gallon glass carboy break while I was cleaning it in my kitchen sink. A piece of heavy glass fell onto my right hand’s thumb, nearly amputating it. I had to have surgery to put the tendons back together. Fortunately, I was only out of work for two weeks, but it took some intense therapy to get back to full dexterity.
What 3 tips would you give to someone learning to cook with no previous experience?
To become a good cook takes two things: being willing to try and knowing the difference between good food and bad.
My first tip would be to find a dish you like and learn to make it to perfection. Branch out to other dishes when that first one is easy for you.
Second, find a cooking resource that you trust and that you think can connect with you meaningfully. I’m a fan of Cooks Illustrated. For most of their recipes, they will post brief videos online. They test their recipes to perfection and design them for the home cook. They frequently explain the science behind the recipes which is great to learn for when you will advance to making your own recipes. I think the recipes posted in the New York Times are great. The volume of them can be overwhelming though. For more far out ideas, I’m becoming more involved with ChefSteps.
Third, take a class. Cooking classes are fun and a way to get hands on coaching. My most recent class was on pierogi making that I found through the experiences in Airbnb. It was taught in the home of a chef of Polish heritage. We learned how to make them, sat down to a nice lunch, and took recipes home. Many restaurants offer cooking classes. I’ve also found them in the silent auctions at events, at kitchen stores, and through cooking schools that offer classes for hobbyists in addition to their vocational courses.
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