Daily Distraction: Follow these YouTube chefs and cook up a feast with pantry ingredients

Daily Distraction: Follow these YouTube chefs and cook up a feast with pantry ingredients

One of the few pleasures I can afford myself during this coronavirus crisis is cooking up a decent meal. And over the past few weeks, I’ve learned that you don’t always need fancy ingredients to do that. Some of my favorite cooking channels on YouTube have loads of great ideas for using up what you’ve got at home.

Here are some folks you should follow for tips on what to cook next to delight your loved ones, or to simply enjoy by yourself — and learn a thing or two along the way.

Internet Shaquille

One of the new rising stars of the YouTube foodie universe, Internet Shaquille shares practical tips and recipes for stepping up your cooking game, using easily available ingredients. Never thought you could serve up Gambas Al Ajillo? His Date Night recipe comes together in minutes and is hella fancy. Want to improve your potatoes, Brussels sprouts, burritos, or avocado toast (by skipping the avocado)? iShaq has got you covered. And if you enjoy French Toast for breakfast, try these ideas for a better desserty start to the day.

Adam Ragusea

Do you hate when recipe blogs just go on and on with a long story that you have to scroll past for ages before you get to the actual ingredients and steps? Then you’ll love Ragusea’s channel. The man is all about simple recipes and techniques, and he gets right to the point without any jibber-jabber.

Most of his videos focus on classic recipes that are popular across the US, like buttermilk fried chicken, lasagna with bolognese sauce, mac & processed American cheese, cast iron pan pizza, and spaghetti and meatballs.

But there are also a lot of videos that cover basic techniques, which you can learn and then adapt to suit your taste, flavor preferences, and the ingredients available near you. There’s a good one for everyday roast chicken, dead-simple bread that even I can make, and also a handy recipe for pork chops that includes an adaptable technique for easy pan sauces. Oh, and since he’s a former journalist, Ragusea is also great at debunking common food myths with the help of food scientists and other experts.

J Kenji Lopez-Alt

Lopez-Alt has literally written the book on using food science to cook better at home. He’s got loads of great recipes on his channel — some covering the fundamentals, some innovative and exotic — but I want to draw your attention to his latest crop of videos, which cover some key ideas, use easily available pantry ingredients, and are shot with a GoPro strapped to his head.

Try your hand at making tomato soup from scratch, get to grips with classic Roman pasta, and rustle up some late-night munchies like smashed cheeseburgers, one-pan egg sandwiches, and kimchi & bacon spaetzles. You should also dive into his older videos, where he shows you how to make mayonnaise, extra crispy eggs, and Kung Pow chicken.

Alton Brown

TV legend Alton Brown has done it all in the food entertainment world, and now he’s back with a series on YouTube to help you use up what you’ve got in your larder. In his Pantry Raid videos, Brown explains how to cook rice quickly and perfectly, dishes up an easy recipe for cookies, and demonstrates a neat method for making popcorn without a popper.

Oh, and if you’ve got some booze lying around, his Smoky Tequila Sour sounds pretty good too.

Pick Up Limes

Don’t worry, vegan pals, I haven’t forgotten you. Although Pick Up Limes is a lifestyle channel and doesn’t yet have a lot of lockdown-specific content, it’s chock-full of great recipes that are quick, easy, and great for cooking up in large batches.

So yeah, you might not have all the necessary ingredients for some recipes in your kitchen already — but if you want to eat clean, the recipes on this channel are worth doing a big grocery trip for. I particularly like this bunch of ideas for creamy one-pot pastas, these comforting soups, these delicious takes on hummus, and this easy chocolate chip banana bread.

Did I miss your lockdown-friendly cooking channel of choice? Let me know via tweet or email, and I’ll include them in a future roundup.

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