Cooking an impressive meal doesn't have to be difficult. Sure you could take painstaking measures and spend days preparing a perfect Beef Wellington or Baked Alaska, but you can also get by doing a lot less.
Luckily, there are so many dishes out there that require very little work and experience but have a very rewarding payoff. Think risotto is out of your reach? How about chicken liver pâté or vichyssoise? Trust us -- they're easier than they sound.
Here are 12 recipes that sound difficult but are surprisingly easy to make. Let us know what your go-to easy but impressive meals are.
Risotto may require steady stirring for a long period of time, but the hardest part is just that: stirring. You make practically any kind of risotto and it's almost guaranteed to come out great so long as you follow a few simple steps and have the patience to stir consecutively for about 30 minutes.
Get this Chantarelle Mushroom and Caramelized Shallot Risotto recipe from Adventures in Cooking, and find more risotto recipes from HuffPost Taste
Falafel sounds like the type of food you wouldn't even attempt if you didn't grow up making it (or watch it being made) from very young age. Falafel is, however, much easier than you might think. It basically just requires a bunch of mashing (chickpeas or fava beans) and frying. You can do that.
Get the World's Easiest Falafel recipe by marisab67 from Food52
Say what? This is actually easy. Let us show you the way. In fact, let chef Stephanie Izard show you
by way of HuffPost Food Reporter Joe Satran.
A salt-baked whole fish basically consists of covering an entire fish in a mixture of salt and egg, and throwing it in the oven. It doesn't require any fancy ingredients or preparation. Try it and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
Get the Salt-Baked Fish recipe by Stephanie Izard from Joe Satran on HuffPost Taste
Sorbet may sound intimidating, but it's super easy and could even require as little as two ingredients -- one of which is water. Enough said.
Get the River Cafe's Strawberry Sorbet recipe by Genius Recipes from Food52 and find more sorbet recipes from Huffpost Taste
Ceviche, traditionally a South American dish, is fish marinated in citrus juice. That's it! The hardest part is making sure you buy high-quality fish. Make sure you purchase the freshest fish possible; try it with semi-firm white-fleshed fish (tuna works well, too). Squeezing citrus over the fish changes the structure of the fish, "cooking" it without heat. All you have to do to make sure you don't let the fish marinate too long and "overcook," and you've got a light, refreshing and healthy dish with almost no work.
Get the Ceviche recipe from Simply Recipes
You could never approach this, right? Wrong. While it certainly sounds sophisticated, chicken liver pâté is ridiculously easy. (As a side note, chicken livers are also surprisingly cheap, making this a no-brainer dish if you want to impress a bunch of guests but don't want to spend a lot of time and money.) Go forth and give it a try. Martha Stewart's recipe
has two steps, and Food52 has a recipe called, "Chicken Liver Pâté for Kids (Really)
Get the Tuscan Chicken Liver Paté recipe by gluttonforlife from Food52
Vichyssoise sounds incredibly scary. It's not. This chilled soup is nothing but a potato and leek soup with a fancy French name. (While its origins are disputed, the soup is said to have been invented in 1917 in the Ritz-Carlton in New York.) All you have to do is sauté leeks and onion, add in potatoes and stock, cook and then blend. Add the cream in at the end and you're good to go.
Get the Vichyssoise recipe from Simply Recipes
Paella, a Spanish rice dish that is a specialty of Valencia, is a one-pot dish that is incredibly easy and reliable. It can also feed a crowd. Paella basically does the work for you, and made all in one pot or pan, the clean up is as easy as the cooking.
Get the Chorizo Paella recipe from New Media Publishing via HuffPost Taste and find more paella recipes here from HuffPost Taste
Mussels are not only easy -- they're fast. Also a one-pot dish, they're great for parties, just like paella. What's more, they're versatile, going well with a range of herbs, spices and flavors, and they're relatively inexpensive. We're huge fans of mussels, if you can't tell, and you should be, too. There are endless ways to prepare mussels, but the basic process is to let them soak, debeard them (removing the byssal threads), prepare your sauce and then let the mussels cook in the sauce until they open (not more then 6 or so minutes.)
Get the Moules Marinière recipe from Alexandra Cooks and find more mussels recipes from HuffPost Taste
While we're on the seafood train, crab cakes definitely qualify as a dish that sounds difficult but are actually simple. Sure, seafood is delicate, but crab is pretty agreeable, and crab cakes are generally difficult to screw up. Typically you'll combine your crab (which is meaty and easy to work with) with egg, flour and whatever seasoning and herbs you're using, form it into patties and let them sit in the refrigerator. Then it's as easy as dredging them and frying them in oil or butter.
Get the Crab Cakes With Rémoulade Sauce recipe from Brown Eyed Baker
Tiramisu is so easy you can make it without a recipe
. This classic Italian dessert can be adapted in many ways, but the basic recipe has you dipping lady finger cookies into liquid -- espresso or even liquor, like Frangelico -- and layering the cookies in a dish in between layers of mascarpone, or something like it. It's dead simple and pretty fabulous.
Get the Bourbon Tiramisu recipe by Macheesmo and more tiramisu recipes from HuffPost Taste
Chocolate mousse -- that sophisticated, elegant, airy dessert -- sounds difficult, but it can be extraordinarily simple. You can even make chocolate mousse with two ingredients
, one of which is water. Of course a few other ingredients -- like whipped cream -- never hurt anyone, but however you choose to make mousse, you'll be surprised at how easy this decadent, luscious dessert really is.
Get Hervé This' Chocolate Mousse recipe from Food52
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