Cooking with Takeout

Part of being a l cook is rarely cooking for oneself. When you make food for hours on end, either as a student or professional, the process of shopping, cooking and cleaning seems like too much effort. Living in New York, it's tempting to slack on the couch and let someone else do the grunt work. Luckily for us, even the best restaurants deliver.

But being cooks, we're still a picky bunch. We want food the way we like it, and delivery often doesn't make the cut. The rice in an order of Afghan kebab is too mushy, the spice in a spicy tuna roll too mild. It's frustrating to face a plate of food when famished, and realize it's entirely mediocre.

Fortunately I found a solution, a compromise between delivery and a home cooked meal. I order the main component, i.e. sushi or even a steak, but stock add-ons in the kitchen for that personalized touch.

Below are a few key ingredients to have around when subsisting on the whims of other kitchens:

Salad Dressing

I can't tell you how many times I've ordered a salad, and there's a dressing debacle. It seems to be the highest gamble of delivery food: will it be in the order? If so, will it have spilled everywhere? And if not, will it be good? Dressing is tricky. I always keep a few salad dressings in the fridge, or quickly whisk up my own (1 minced clove garlic, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tbs vinegar: 3-4 tbs olive oil. Combine first 3 ingredients, and slowly whisk in oil to emulsify).

Cilantro is an herb that elicits a strong reaction: you either detest it, or sneak it into everything. I'm one of the cilantro fanatics, especially when it comes to Asian cuisines. Throw some chopped cilantro on a Thai green papaya salad, and it takes the whole dish up a notch. Same can be said for a spicy tuna roll (see "jalapeno" for more details).

If you like cilantro, you may want to experiment with mint. It's a natural fit with Vietnamese takeout, and certain Thai dishes. If not already present, throw it in a summer roll for a fresh burst of flavor. I also like adding chopped mint into Indian raita for a zesty kick.

In my book, raw jalapeno serves one purpose in delivery cooking: sushi. A slender piece of this mildly spicy pepper adds both kick and crunch to any type of sushi roll. A personal favorite is the spicy tuna roll from my fave local joint, Natsumi, with small pieces of jalapeno and cilantro added on top. Just remember to seed, core and rinse the pepper before consuming! The seeds and spongy center are the spiciest parts.

Or mayonnaise, or ketchup….whatever condiment you need to make your burger or sandwich palatable. It's another ingredient that's often forgotten, or there's just not enough of it.

I detest mushy rice, and mushy rice is a common evil in delivery cuisine. Indian rice is generally solid, but if you're going Greek, kebab or sometimes even Thai, you might want to boil your own. Nothing fancy – the Near East brands of rice are excellent, and simply involve boiling water.

Hot Sauce
It has the ability to make anything better. Need I say more?

This one is a little left field, but the Greek yogurt sauce known as tzatziki is fit for Zeus. Lightly flavored with garlic and dill, crunchy with cucumber, you could put tzatziki on dirty gym socks and they'd taste good. Don't test that theory, but do try it on grilled meat or vegetables, roast chicken, tandoori, kebab etc. It's a staple on Greek menus, but to stock your fridge, try the Fage brand found in Whole Foods.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            4 Program(s) Found
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            1 Program(s) Found

            Baker College is the largest independent college in Michigan with the most focused approach to education and training available. Our mission is to prepare you for meaningful employment.

            2 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
            Show more [+]
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
            Show more [+]
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid