The Magic Ingredients to Being like a Career Chef

Did you ever taste a really great restaurant dish and wonder what the special ingredient was? That's the mark of an original chef! Further your home career as a chef by adding these tips to your inventory of kitchen secrets.

Sumptuous Salmon

Nothing brings out the flavor of fresh salmon like grilling it on a plank of cedar wood. But we'll go you one better with this intriguing variation - maple syrup! Soak the plank in water for 15 minutes.

Place a filet of very fresh salmon on the plank, skin side down. Drizzle with maple syrup, pepper and garlic. Place on the grill, close the lid, and leave it about 12 minutes per pound. No turning necessary. Guaranteed to delight!

Silkiest Mashed Potatoes Ever

For the smoothest, creamiest mashed potatoes you can imagine, discard all the cooking water once they are soft. Then add milk, salt and pepper, and - ready for this? A bit of mayonnaise! One or two tablespoons will do - your guests will never know what's in it!

Glorious Glaze

Turn a modest fruit salad into a dazzling feast for the taste buds. In a small pan, place � cup each of white wine and balsamic vinegar. Add 1/4 cup of sugar, 4 whole cloves and one teaspoon vanilla.

Simmer and reduce to a dark syrup. Remove from heat and add a tablespoon each of lemon juice and lemon zest. Cool, and toss with a bowl of berries (cherries, blueberries and raspberries are a great combination.)

And finally...

Whether you dream about chef jobs or just adore cooking for your family and friends, remember that a great cook has to be adventurous with the use of ingredients. Be sure to continue your personal chef training by exploring new techniques and components for your dishes.