The other day I was asked by an acquaintance , “how did you learn to cook?” This got me thinking, so I decided that I would try and put together a series of posts about kitchen basics. A cooking 101 if you will.
In today’s post, I will start the series by giving you some practical tips to make your cooking better and easier. The more you know, the better the chef you will become.
Invest in high quality cooking pots, pans, and tools. This doesn’t mean you have to go for the most expensive. Choose the best quality that you can afford. It will make a huge difference in the quality of dishes you create. A high quality skillet will be able to handle higher heats without warping. Quality tools will be able to do their job longer and much more effectively than cheap brands. I always shop around and check reviews before purchasing any new items for my kitchen.
Check your ingredients before starting a recipe. You don’t want to get halfway through a recipe and realize that you are missing a vital ingredient. Also, you will save time by assembling everything. Measure everything out, and prepare any ingredients in advance. This way, you won’t having to stop in the middle of cooking to grate some cheese. Or worse, having to chop an onion when you are right in the middle of your recipe.
A tip that I use when chopping herbs is to throw a touch of salt on the cutting board. This helps hold the herbs and lets you get a consistent cut throughout. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can substitute dried. Just make sure that you understand the dried herb to fresh substitution amounts. Some herbs, like basil, lose a bit of flavor during the drying process. Herbs like oregano actually get more intense. If you are unsure how much to use, start with a small amount and gradually add more to suit your taste.
If you cook with wine, always cook with a wine that you would drink yourself. If you don’t like the wine that you are cooking with, you probably won’t like the dish you are cooking. Pick out a good wine that you know you love, and you will like your dish even more.
When you sauté anything, make sure to use a big enough pan to accommodate the amount of food that you are cooking. You do not want to overcrowd the food. Overcrowding the food will steam it instead, and it will ruin your sauté.
Cooking can seem like a chore sometimes and just throwing ingredients together quickly becomes boring. However, cooking for pleasure can be relaxing, entertaining, and can be delicious. Following these few tips will make cooking fun for you and the family.
There you go Smidgers. The cooking 101-course intro. I hope it wasn’t too boring and hope you stick around for next week’s installment.
Food is love…