If you're at the stage in the kitchen where you want to go up a gear, there are tips that will help you be a better cook. They are smart ways to work and smart ways to use certain ingredients and they will all take your kitchen skills and your food to the next level.
Table of contents:
- make notes
- chicken thighs
- fresh herbs and spices
- use a mandolin
- put the lid on
- bigger is better
- new peeler
- small batches
- add sugar to veggies
- dampen it
- buy a microplane
- make it metal
- air dry chicken
- salt for salad
- buy a timer
- master mise en place
- read the recipe
- temper protein
- shred your own cheese
- dress from the bottom
- use scales
1 Make Notes
If you tweak recipes to your taste, then make a note of it in the recipe book. It's easier than trying to remember each time you make it.
Buy a really good set of knives and keep them sharp. If you can, have them sharpened professionally on occasion. Also, understand which knife is best for each job.
3 Chicken Thighs
Thighs are much tastier and cheaper than breasts. If you are making stir fries, casseroles, or anything else really, use thigh.
4 Fresh Herbs and Spices
Ground spices and dried herbs lose their flavor and potency once you open the jar/packet. Use fresh wherever you can. Grow your own herbs and buy whole spices that you can grind as needed. Keep fresh ginger in the freezer.
5 Use a Mandolin
Yes, it's scary but once you master the art, slicing vegetables is a breeze. And they'll all be the same size!
6 Put the Lid on
If you're boiling water for pasta or making stock or broth, the pot will come to the boil much faster if you pop the lid on the pan.
7 Bigger is Better
Make things a lot easier by having large mixing bowls. Your salads will toss better, your cakes will be lighter and airier.
8 New Peeler
Just like knives, Y peelers become blunt. Replace yours regularly.
9 Small Batches
When frying - anything - do it in small batches. Crowd the pan and it steams rather than fries.
10 Add Sugar to Veggies
Gasp! Yes! A tiny dash of sugar brings out the natural sweetness of squash, carrots and tomatoes. Every marinara sauce needs some sugar.
11 Dampen It
Put a damp kitchen towel under your chopping board. It will prevent it slipping.
12 Buy a Microplane
It's better for grating small amounts and also when you need a fine grate.
13 Make It Metal
Cups and measuring spoons should be made of metal. Plastic warps and distorts over time.
14 Air Dry Chicken
If you love crispy skin on roast chicken, try this. After you’ve unwrapped and rinsed the bird, pat it dry with kitchen paper, salt it generously, and let it stand in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a few hours before roasting. The bone-dry skin will cook up to a crackly, crunchy, golden brown.
Taste and season at each stage. Don't leave it until the end.
16 Salt for Salad
Salads benefit from seasoning too.
17 Buy a Timer
For some recipes, guessing is not good enough. Use a timer to be precise.
18 Master Mise En Place
Mise en place is a French term that means putting in place. Get all your ingredients ready before you begin putting a recipe together. This includes chopping everything and weighing out ingredients. A collection of small bowls is ideal for this.
Keep balsamic vinegar, regular vinegar and lemon/limes on hand. a bland or bleugh dish gets an instant lift if you give it a bit of acid.
20 Read the Recipe
This is important to one, make sure you have all the ingredients and equipment you need and two, you have the time it takes to make it.
A meat thermometer is needed if you like meat other than well done. An oven thermometer is more reliable and accurate than your oven knob,
22 Temper Protein
Protein should be cooked from room temperature. Cooking meat and fish straight from the fridge causes it to seize which will result in a tough piece of protein.
23 Shred Your Own Cheese
Don't buy shredded cheese. Yes, it's convenient and time-saving but it is coated in starch to stop it clumping.
24 Dress from the Bottom
Want better salads? The best way to toss a salad is to put the dressing in the bottom of the bowl, then put in the leaves. Toss to give leaves an even coating.
25 Use Scales
Weighing ingredients created better dishes - particularly when baking.
And finally - always cook with love and enjoy it.
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