To chef Marc Murphy, confident home cooking is more than a way to feed yourself and the people you love—it’s a survival skill. His first rule? Never be intimidated in the kitchen. He’s amused, for example, when people are afraid to mess up a nice cookbook. “Get it dirty,” says Murphy, who wrote his latest, Season with Authority, with the home cook in mind. “I didn’t want to make a cookbook that nobody cooks from. A friend’s son started liking clams, so I sent her my recipe for Linguini Vongole. She made it and now it’s his favorite dinner. I love that.” Read on to adopt some of Murphy’s important laws in your kitchen.
3 rules to cook by
1. Take charge of your knife.
“Some people get annoyed with cooking,” says Murphy, the Chopped judge and chef-owner of four New York City restaurants. “At Thanksgiving, with dozens of onions to dice—it’s a daunting task for a novice. If people can get over their fear of handling a knife and use it correctly, that’s 50 percent of getting comfortable with cooking.”
2. Season to taste.
Flavoring foods properly is so important that Murphy made it the theme of his cookbook. You can get creative, but basic salt and pepper might just surprise you, he says—especially with vegetables. “There’s nothing better than grilled asparagus cooked over a wood-burning fire and salted just right. You can roast vegetables; you can even steam them if you want—but you have to season them. Give them some love.”
3. Raid the fridge.
Murphy taps last night’s leftovers for fantastic frittatas. “I take broccoli, grilled zucchini, ratatouille; crack a dozen eggs; and get the frittata in the oven,” says Murphy. When it’s done, he flips it out onto a cutting board, slices it, then sets up a brunch station with fresh bread and coffee. “They make fun of me at home now during dinner, ‘This’ll be a frittata tomorrow—we can see it coming!’”