In an age of lots of dining establishments, processed foods, microwave meals and an explosion of home delivery services, the fine art of cooking may end up being a lost art. Yet, anyone who wants to eat more healthy foods and save money at the same time can learn to cook and achieve those goals. Beginner cooks and bakers are often faced with the daunting task of learning the basics of cooking at home. Here are some tricks used by some of the best cooks in the world.
While you may have the urge to try a complicated recipe because it sounds delicious it is a smarter idea to start out with smaller and simpler recipes. You will need to learn how certain foods react when mixed with other ingredients and how different foods will cook in different manners.
It’s also a good idea to stay with what you know when entertaining guests, at least until you become more comfortable in the kitchen. A soufflé can be a delight but any experienced cook will tell you that you will have at least 5 fallen soufflés before you finally get it right. Take the pressure off of your self when entertaining and cook to the level of expertise that you are at.
Do Your Prep Work In Advance
Have you noticed when watching a cooking show that the cook always has ingredients chopped or measured out before they start cooking? Granted this helps to speed up the process for the TV show but it is a good practice that experienced cooks will use all of the time. Lay out your kitchen utensils ahead of time, then work through your recipe.
By chopping, cutting, measuring and preparing pans ahead of time you can eliminate the stress that comes by being surprised when cooking. If you have never sliced an onion before you may be shocked to learn that you actually can start crying when slicing a whole onion. If you do this half way through the cooking process you have to stop, wipe your eyes and thoroughly wash your hands before continuing. Do this ahead of time and all you have to do is add the already chopped onions to your recipe.
Another good tip for planning ahead is if you are making a stock. Recipes that call for stock can be easier if you have already made a stock and put it in the freezer. When you are ready to make the dish requiring stock you can simply grab some out of your freezer.
A Good Cook Knows How To Season Food
Seasoning your food is one of the most important steps in creating good food, but too many people wait until the meal is completely prepared before actually adding any seasonings. Just like a good painter is always going back to touch up spots on a painting, a good cook will go back and add seasonings. Of course you don’t want to over-do the seasoning, a light hand is needed. Just remember to add seasonings, especially to meats, at the beginning of the cooking process as well as at the end.
Some Baking Tips
Many recipes call for melted chocolate and for many bakers that means popping solid chocolate into the microwave. While this is not the worst method to melt chocolate, it certainly isn’t the best. For chocolate that is melted smoothly and not scorched use a double boiler system. Bring a saucepan of water to a low boil and then place a smaller pan or a glass bowl on top. The steam will heat the smaller bowl and melt the chocolate. Remember to stir while the chocolate is melting.
If you are baking a pie or a cake make sure to use the pan or sheet that is actually called for in the recipe. Making a deep dish pie does require a deep dish pie pan, you can’t just use any pie pan. Same goes for cakes, they must be baked in the right sized pan for the length of time called for in the recipe. As you become more experienced you can start to improvise.
A Meat Slicing Secret
Any time that you have to cut or slice meats of any kind you will want to do what the pros do. It’s tough to slice meat that is at room temperature, the meat is soft and hard to handle. The secret to successful meat slicing is to keep the meat in your refrigerator for about 30 minutes before slicing. Cool meat is much easier to handle and our knife will be able to make neat slices without tearing the meat. Think of your local butcher shop or meat market, they always take the meat out of the cooler to do any slicing.
Always Keep Learning To Cook
Ask any professional cook about their cooking techniques and they will tell you that they never stopped learning. Keep yourself up to date on new cooking ideas by watching cooking shows on TV, cooking with friends or by attending classes at a cooking store or school. You will be cooking your entire life, you should know what needs to be done and you should always enjoy being in the kitchen.