Sometimes, the thought of a homemade meal is delightful. At the same time, it can be frightening. You may wonder how famous chefs create such delicious masterpieces. If the thought of stepping foot in the kitchen scares you, don’t worry! It’s not as hard as it seems. If you’re a nervous beginner cook, these cooking tips and tricks will definitely come in handy.
Best and Effective Cooking Tips and Tricks
- Recipes aren’t magical. They are made up of ingredients and techniques. Don’t be stressed out if you accidentally add too many onions, or are missing just a pinch of salt. Most recipes are very forgiving. This means you don’t need to spend time painstakingly measuring everything out correctly. Once you get more familiar with ingredients, like spices and herbs, you will be able to substitute them. Maybe you enjoy thyme, but you dislike oregano. In a recipe that calls for thyme, you can simply replace it.
- Read the recipe, but don’t forget to check the comments and feedback too. The greatest part about the Internet is that it’s easy to give advice and connect with other people. You can see how many times a recipe has been tried. It’s so much easier than flipping through a physical book and trying to decide which recipe to choose. Sometimes, reading advice from people who have already tried the recipe can save your dinner.
Make Your Job Easier
- Making homemade stock–whether it’s chicken, beef, or something else entirely–isn’t difficult. If you have space in your fridge, make large batches of stock. Then, freeze it up in Ziploc bags. When you need some stock for soup or to cook vegetables with, all you have to do is heat the stock. Not only does this save time, but it also allows you to customize to your taste. No more store-bought stock is necessary!
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Sometimes we start a recipe only to realize that we aren’t actually ready. It’s better to prepare the night or even the day before. If you’re cooking meats, check to see if your recipe requires you to marinade them. Print your recipe and bring it when you go shopping. That way, you can make sure you have everything you need. Nothing is worse than starting a recipe only to realize that you don’t have enough ingredients.
- Again, your fridge is your friend. If you’re busy, save leftover sauce from unfinished meals by freezing them in ice cube trays. Later on, in the week, you can thaw them out and reheat them in a pan. This works for spaghetti sauce and any other sauce you may be thinking of. And the great part about freezing is that your ingredients can be saved for quite some time. On the same note, you can also make a large pot of sauce and freeze. That way, when you are feeling too drained to cook everything from scratch, you can simply reheat the sauce.
- So much of the fruit we eat is seasonal. Don’t worry. Go to the local farmer’s market or your neighborhood grocery store. Buy fruit during peak season, when its freshest and juiciest. Freeze it in an airtight container. You and your family will be able to enjoy it year round.
- Don’t have time to brine your meat? Here’s an easy fix. Pat it inside, outside, and all around with a thick layer of salt one hour before you cook. Then, pat it dry with a paper towel. When cooking chicken, this ensures crispy, dry skin and juicy meat.
- Some people shy away from fish because it seems difficult to cook. Don’t worry. Fish is naturally flavorful. After you cook it on the grill, on the pan, or in the oven, just try a little drizzle of lemon juice. Sometimes, that’s all you need to create a great main meal. You can serve with seasoned potatoes or grains.
- Don’t put oil in your pot of pasta. This makes the pasta too slippery for the sauce to hold on to. If you’ve already added oil, that’s okay. Dry the pasta and grate some Parmesan cheese on it before it cools. The sauce will be able to “stick” to the cheese, and you’ll get a richer flavor.
- When sautéing vegetables or other food, don’t put too much on the pan. If you do so, the food will be steamed instead of sautéed. If you boil vegetables, put them in ice water right after to keep their color bright.
- Olive oil has a myriad of useful applications in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to invest in a great bottle of high-quality olive oil. Just a sprinkle is all you need to bring flavor to fried eggs, pizza, and many other dishes.
- If you’ve prepared a salad for a house party, don’t dress it. Leave the marinade and other dressings in small bowls next to the salad instead. That way, your salad will be fresh instead of soggy. Your guests will thank you for it!
- Be aware of your heat. Heating is one of the most important parts of cooking. You will get different results when you cook meat at 200 degrees as compared to 400. Different cooking techniques call for different temperatures. And when you add food to a hot surface, the temperature will lower. Be aware of your starting and ending temperature when you cook.
- When cooking steaks, let them thaw to room temperature beforehand. This usually takes an hour or less.
- Roast your garlic. To do this, slice off the top part of the bulbs. Drizzle with some olive oil, pepper, and salt. Wrap them in tin foil and bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees. You can add them to almost anything. Roasted garlic adds sweetness to dishes.
- Instead of using bread crumbs in pasta dishes, try finely chopped nuts. This lends a new dimension of flavor, plus you’ll get your protein for the day.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Cooking is a learning process. We aren’t going to be as great as Gordon Ramsay the first time we cook. But as long as you keep working hard and refuse to give up, your dishes will get better and better. Don’t forget about these cooking tips and tricks for the next time you make a masterpiece.