Cooking quality meals can seem a daunting task, but a special meal doesn’t need to require special skills. Choosing a recipe that is comprised of simple steps will make your food prep easy. Try to choose items that offer unique, fresh flavors all on their own. Here are some tips for putting together a high-quality meal for a beginner chef.

Start with Dessert

When you’re a beginning cook, part of the hassle of preparing a meal is getting everything ready at the same time. You can reduce this stress by using some make-ahead items. One of the easiest things to make and prepare ahead of time is dessert. Often, desserts are chilled or served at room temperature so it can be prepared well in advance.
You can dress up a good dessert with simple toppings. For example, you can create a dessert featuring tropical fruit hours before the main event and just add a drizzle of honey or fresh whipped cream before placing it on the table.

Bread Makes a Meal Luscious

Bread is a very common appetizer or side. Rather than just leaving out some pre-made rolls or sliced artisan bread, you can transform this simple ingredient.
You can make a stuffed French bread loaf or bowl and combine your starch and protein in one delicious dish. This dish requires you to hollow out the French baguette loaf, create a filling with hamburger, the bread from the center of the loaf, and a flavorful sauce. The trick to this dish is to buy good quality ground beef and drain off all grease before refilling the bread shell.
There are many different types and flavors of stuffed bread, so look at several recipes, and decide what flavors will go best with your meal.

Bake Your Starch

You can save yourself a lot of worry about the timing of your meal if you bake your starch. An oven-baked risotto or a simple pan of baked potatoes will give you time to set the table, open the wine and prepare your serving dishes.
While you’re baking the starch, remember to incorporate fat into this crucial segment of the meal. Fat is where the flavor lives in food, so adding seasonings such as garlic to a baked starch can infuse your whole house with a delicious odor to tantalize your guests prior to dining.

Feature Fish for Protein

Fish cooks quickly and is much better when subjected to as little handling as possible. If you’re preparing shellfish, double check with your guests that there are no allergies to contend with. Set out plates or your serving dish before you start preparing the fish as this will go quickly. A simple baked fish recipe that can work with fresh or salt water fish is a great tool. The thicker the flesh of the fish, the longer the cooking time. If you plan to sear the fish before serving, consider doing this on an outdoor grill to cut down on odor and smoke.

Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Find a simple recipe for the main protein and plan to use a make-ahead recipe for the salad. Bake the starch to warm up your home and whet the appetites of your diners, and remember to serve a very nice bottle of wine and delicious bread. While it will take some planning, a simple meal can become an elegant dining experience.

Author's Bio: 

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer from Sacramento, California. A mother of two, Hannah enjoys writing on blogs of all niches.