Cooking is one of the finest skills to study on your own. Cooking well can improve your health, save you money and be fun. Better yet, cooking is a skill you can always improve. Even the greatest kitchen veterans can learn a little something new. Here are a few handy tips for getting better results out of your kitchen:
Preparation is a very important part of cooking. You want to make sure you have every item you might need. You also want to make sure you have all the supplies you might need. You don’t want to be in the middle of a dish and find out you are missing something important.
When it comes to cooking a good habit to do after preparing garlic is to rub your hands on the stainless steel sink vigorously for about 30 seconds. This will remove the unwanted odor from your hands. Washing them less than 30 seconds will not take all the odor away.
A coffee grinder isn’t just for coffee. A coffee grinder actually works just as well as a food processor for some jobs. This is especially true with small jobs when you don’t want the trouble of lugging out a huge processor and then having to wash all the parts. Nuts and peppercorns grind perfectly in a coffee grinder, even sugar if you need a quick substitute for powdered sugar in a recipe.
Keep track of ingredients when baking. Sometimes, when you are adding a lot of dry ingredients to your mixing bowl, it’s easy to lose track. An easy solution to this is to place each ingredient in a different part of the bowl. That way, every dry ingredient you add can be seen and counted.
A salad spinner can be a great addition to your kitchen. It will help to spin the water out of your lettuce so your salads aren’t soggy and droopy. Salad spinners are inexpensive and can be found at most discount stores. They’re also small so they store easy.
If you are cooking pastries or foods that can get very messy, make sure that you wear an apron at all times. The last thing that you will want to do is to get food on your clothes and have to change before you eat your meal with friends or family.
Buying pasta sauce that already has vegetables, seasonings, meat, or cheese in it is a great way to save time and money when cooking. There’s a great variety to choose from, and you won’t have to chop up peppers and mushrooms or brown the beef. It’s all in one jar–just heat it up, and serve over your favorite pasta!
When you feel like your dish is missing something but it isn’t salt, consider something acidic. Lemon, wine, and vinegar can all be great ways to add acid to a recipe. Healthy acidic balances out the flavor of anything sweet. It can also be a wonderful way to add a “salty” flavor if you’re on a low salt diet.
When cooking with a sauté pan, turn the handle of it in the opposite direction of you. Keeping the handle facing you increases the chance of bumping into and spilling your food. This is also a safety concern because you can burn yourself if the pan tips or falls over.
Make your stressful family or holiday dinner more relaxing by completing most of the prep work up to 24 hours in advance. Cut up veggies, marinate your meat or make a sauce the night before. When you decide to cook the following day you’ll have less to do and become less stressed, this lets you focus on your main cooking tasks.
If you are going to braise meat, cook it at a low temperature for a long period of time. By doing it this way, the meat will stay tender and it will retain its juiciness, which in turns, leaves the meat tasting good. Cooking it a high temperature can dry the meat out.
Whenever you make stock for soups or stews, make it in large quantities, and freeze the extra. That way, the next time you want to whip up a quick soup or stew, the most time-consuming part is already done. You just have to pull a bag from the freezer for a quick and delicious meal.
Adjust your baking time for smaller items. For example, if you are making mini cookies, crank the oven up to 500 degrees, and bake the cookies for only 4 or 5 minutes at the most. The end result is perfectly cooked, delicious cookies that will fly out of your cookie jar!
While it is very convenient to cook meats in a slow cooker, it is important that you are very careful or you can be at risk. Any meat that you plan on adding to a cooker needs to be browned first so that it reaches food-safety standards for temperature.
You can prepare minced garlic ahead of time to be ready to use. Simply mince the garlic as normal and spread in a small pan. Freeze this pan until the garlic begins to become solid, at which point you take it out, and slice it into cubes. Place these cubes in a plastic bag and store in the freezer. When you are sautéing vegetables or preparing food later, you can use a cube or two of this prepared minced garlic. The heat from the frying pan will melt the garlic, and the result is quick and easy garlic with a fresh flavor.
If you’re cooking with cast-iron pots and pans – never clean with soap, unless you want to lose its non-stick properties! Instead, use a paste of salt and water to scour the pan, if needed, or boil some water in the pot or pan to loosen stuck-on foods. Remove the remaining residue with a paper towel, and rub on a thin layer of oil before storing.
Hopefully, some of these ideas will prove useful to you. Not only is cooking a field in which there is always something new to learn, it is a very personal skill set. You retain full control of what you learn and how you apply it. Keep your eyes peeled for more tips that you can use to cook the way you want to.