Chef Recipes Made Easy
The flavorings in the vibrant marinade for this grilled chicken by Vikram Sunderam include pathar ka phool (a hard-to-find seasoning made from bark), deghi mirch (an Indian red-chile powder) and mustard oil. Instead, omit the pathar ka phool and deghi mirch and use mustard seeds in place of the oil for a similarly pungent, wonderfully savory marinade.
Chicken Shawarma with Green Beans and Zucchini
To fill this sandwich wrap, Ana Sortun coats chicken thighs with a lengthy list of spices that includes allspice and nutmeg, then braises them in beer and garlic. An easier way is to rub chicken thighs with the spice mix and roast them in the oven (no beer necessary).
Soft-Shell Crab Sandwiches with Pancetta and Remoulade
Bruce Sherman places crabs and pancetta on small rounds of brioche slathered with homemade remoulade (mayonnaise mixed with mustard, capers, cornichons and herbs). He then sprinkles them with bits of hard-boiled egg and dresses the plate with a caper-brown butter sauce. For a simpler version, prepare hefty soft-shell crab sandwiches by layering salty slices of pancetta, slabs of tomato and a remoulade made with store-bought mayonnaise. Skip the fancy plating, omitting the eggs and the butter sauce.
Ana Sortun tops stuffed zucchini with a tangy sauce of feta, olive oil and Hungarian peppers (spicy wax chiles). For an easier preparation, top the roasted zucchini with a little feta, then broil briefly.
Natchitoches-Style Meat Pies
John Besh prepares mini meat pies with house-made dough and a rich, spiced filling of beef, pork and chicken liver sautéed in duck fat. A meat-pie shortcut for the home cook: Use store-bought empanada dough instead of making your own. And instead of using duck fat to sauté the meat filling, use butter—it's a perfectly fine substitute and much easier to find.
Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
Chris Cosentino adds briny flavor to his pasta with cured tuna heart. He shaves it on right before serving. This simplified version of his recipe calls for anchovies, rather than the tuna heart Cosentino uses. Egg yolks form a silky sauce.
Iceberg Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
Donald Link makes his own mayonnaise for this delightfully creamy blue cheese dressing. Here's a shortcut: Use prepared mayo in this easy-to-eat version of the classic iceberg wedge salad.
Pappardelle with Lamb Ragù
Andrew Carmellini serves fresh pappardelle with a ragù of house-ground lamb shoulder cooked in lamb stock. He finishes the dish with fresh ricotta and chopped mint. An easier way is to use store-bought pappardelle, ground lamb and chicken stock, then top the dish with fresh ricotta and mint.
Sautéed Squid with Fried Eggplant
Corey Lee uses big-fin squid, a rare type imported from Japan. It's much thicker than ordinary squid and has a very fresh, briny flavor. Instead of big-fin squid, buy squid from any fishmonger and score it with a sharp knife like Lee does; this will help it cook quickly and evenly in the pan, keeping it tender.
Dashi-Poached Scallop Salad with Wasabi Dressing
David Myers serves raw diver scallops with yuzu, fresh wasabi and dashi gelée. Home cooks can poach thinly sliced scallops in an easy dashi broth, a Japanese stock made with bonito (tuna) flakes and seaweed. Dressed with lemon juice and wasabi and topped with greens, the poached scallops become a satisfying first course.
Poached Eggs with Sunchokes and Comté Polenta
David Bouley serves eggs en cocotte with three puree—fennel, sunchoke and polenta—plus Comté foam. Home cooks can pair baked eggs with cheese polenta, evoking Bouley's Comté foam with polenta puree.
Rosemary Lamb Chops
Star TV chef Lidia Bastianich tops lamb chops with a rosemary-mint sauce. A shortcut: Skip the sauce for the lamb chops; instead, rub rosemary onto the chops before they're seared.
Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Jose Garces uses a multistep process to prepare the dressing for this salad which includes letting chopped shallots soak up the flavors of mustard, thyme and vinegar before mixing them with olive oil. Instead, start the salad dressing in a skillet (no marinating involved), then finish it in a bowl with all the other ingredients.
Chris Bianco's Pizza Rosa
Chris Bianco’s custom-built wood-burning oven heats up to 800°. For home cooks, preheating a pizza stone in a 500° oven before baking the pizza creates a charred, crisp crust.
Daniel Humm's exceptionally easy risotto gets a sublime earthiness from fresh and dried porcini mushrooms.
Curried Spaghetti-Squash-and-Chickpea Toasts
Spaghetti squash gets its name because once it's cooked, you can use a fork to pull the flesh into long, thin strands. Jonathon Sawyer makes his own curry and cooks his own chickpeas for this vegetarian dish, but this simplified recipe calls for store-bought curry paste and canned chickpeas. Sawyer roasts the seeds from the squash and uses them as a garnish; pumpkin seeds from the supermarket are a fine substitute.
Rice with Duck and Apricots
George Mendes's signature dish includes poached duck breast and homemade duck confit. Buy the confit instead, and forgo the breast.
Deep, Dark Chocolate Pudding
Pastry chef Chris Broberg serves this luscious pudding in a chocolate-coffee tuile alongside figs in port and candied orange peel, among other sweets. Home cools can forget about all the other components and serve the lush, intensely chocolaty, easy-to-make pudding on its own.
Sweet Potato Doughnuts
Baking doughnuts and tossing them with a little butter, cinnamon and sugar makes them healthier than fried doughnuts. The sweet potato in the dough adds a lovely, earthy note. Breanne Varela says: "I love chef Suzanne Goin's sweet potatoes with bacon, so I imitated those flavors."
Hazelnut, Nutella and Caramel Ice Cream Sandwiches
For his labor-intensive Candy Bars, Alain Ducasse makes hazelnut glaze and caramel pastry cream. Home cooks can use store-bought ice cream and Nutella for a simpler version.