“Sauce is the answer,” Kelis laughs as she bottles various homemade sauces in her home kitchen. “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you who you are.”
In her brand-new Skillshare course, The Creative Kitchen: Simple Sauces to Elevate Every Meal, the singer, songwriter, and chef combines humor and bonafide kitchen skills to teach anyone how to make restaurant-quality sauces at home. Cooking with Kelis is a wild, fun time, but you’ll also gain serious know-how for making salad dressings, gravy, jerk sauce, and more. Her emphasis on ingredients’ purposes will teach you how to become a better cook intuitively, through practice.
Here, we’ll share more about Kelis’ cooking show, her culinary career, and a few of her top cooking lessons. Let’s get into the kitchen and have some fun!
Kelis’ Cooking Career
Kelis first became famous through her music: she has six studio albums, and her mega-hit “Milkshake” served as a loveable dance track throughout the early 2000s.
But she also has major cooking chops: She studied to be a saucier at culinary institute Le Cordon Bleu, graduating in 2009. She authored a cookbook, “My Life on a Plate,” full of recipes inspired by her Puerto Rican background and her travels around the world. She sells a line of (often sold-out) sauces called Bounty and Full. And Kelis’ cooking show on Netflix, “Cooked with Cannabis,” highlights that cooking with cannabis isn’t just for stoners. Everything Kelis produces is both raucously fun and deeply researched, and she brings the same addictive spunk to TV that she displays in her cookbook.
Cooking Classes With Kelis
Cooking with Kelis starts with the why. She begins her course by asking, “Why sauce?” The answer is simple: “Sauce is amazing. I want sauce with everything. Everything is better smothered, dipped, or poured.”
And when you’re cooking, it’s worth considering the why as well. What’s the purpose for the sauce? Is it for dipping, drizzling, or smothering? Do you want to add richness or cut fattiness? Sauce, she explains in the Kelis cookbook, is what truly defines the meal.
With that in mind, let’s whip up some sauce with these five lessons!
1. Sauce Basics
In this lesson, Kelis explains that every sauce starts with a base: Onions are almost universal, but you can also use garlic, scallions, chives, carrots, celery, or bell peppers. From there, you’ll add herbs and spices to take it in different directions.
She also covers the foundational formula for sauce cooking: Every recipe follows a 3:1 ratio of fat (oil, butter, or animal fat) to acid (vinegar or citrus). And don’t forget the salt, which brings out all the other flavors!
Once you understand these basics, the following lessons will show you exactly how to put them into practice.
Here, Kelis shares how to make a basic vinaigrette composed of pantry essentials, as well as how to adapt it depending on what you have. Salad dressings are a subset of sauces, and so they follow the same ratio of 3:1 oil to acid. But from there, the options for adaptation are endless. Herbs, spices, and different types of acids can all make a vinaigrette taste wildly differently. (And if you’re cooking with cannabis, you could even use infused oil.)
In short, this lesson isn’t so much about following a recipe as it is learning components and a technique: making your dressing how your palate likes it, then tasting and adjusting to find the right balance.
“These flavors…remind me of home,” says Kelis. “I am so Latin in the kitchen!” Her Puerto Rican heritage comes out in this lesson, which shows you how to make a tropical riff on basic vinaigrette with not-often-used flavors: guava, cilantro, lime, and shallot. She developed this combination of ingredients, she explains, by a simple rule: “What grows together goes together.”
This recipe is a bit more complicated than the basic vinaigrette, but “the premise stayed the same,” Kelis reminds us. Follow along, whip up a batch, and pour it on flavorful greens with chunks of fruit, nuts, and even cheese. Heed Kelis’s words when eating it: “You want diversity on your plate.”
Jerk sauce has a long ingredient list that may seem daunting, but Kelis assures us that it’s “not scary at all.” Watch and see how she puts everything in a blender then cooks it down until it’s cohesive. (Oh, and don’t worry: cooking the habanero takes its spice level down).
She’ll also show you how to adapt the sauce to your preferred consistency and bottle it using “the home version of pasteurization.” Jerk sauce will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, so make double and have a jar ready for a day you don’t feel like cooking but want to eat something fabulous!
5. Making Gravy
Gravy, Kelis explains in this lesson, is really a velouté, one of the so-called “mother sauces.” Velouté is French for “velvety,” and the process yields a wonderfully rich sauce that can be served over meat for a “good, warm, yummy” meal, especially in the winter.
Kelis uses lamb jus and butter as the fat and liquid, but reminds us that we can change flavors depending on the season or the meat we have. You’ll also learn to “season in layers,” how herbs and spices make the flavor more complex, and how whisking in flour thickens the whole sauce.
Recipes, she says, make people feel “regimented,” but understanding the fundamentals of cooking sauces will free you up to make food with what you have. She encourages home cooks to get confident and comfortable, and most importantly, to have a good time!
Finally, she leaves us with this nugget of kitchen wisdom: “Think about how you grew up. Think about things you genuinely like. You can start to drizzle sauce on everything; your life will be better. Mine is!”
Learn to Make Sauces With Kelis!
The Creative Kitchen: Simple Sauces to Elevate Every Meal.