Cooking Techniques & Tips

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Tip:
When cooking a dish that contains mushrooms along with other ingredients, it’s always best to cook the mushrooms first and by themselves with a pinch of salt. Reason: When cooked, mushrooms excrete a ton of water. If there are other ingredients in the pan at the same time the mushrooms are excreting their water content, those ingredients will absorb the mushroom water and muddle the flavor of the other ingredients.

Tip:
Read through a recipe completely before starting to cook. Reason: Many recipes work in stages or batches, it’s important to know what happens when. For example, soak almonds overnight. If you didn’t read the recipe completely, you could be elbow deep into a recipe before you realize you skipped that step. Additionally, online recipes from bloggers and even published cookbooks have been known to leave out information or ingredients. It’s only after you read far into the directions that you realize the mistake.

Tip:
Crack eggs on a flat surface to avoid shell particles. Reason: When you crack an egg on something that is not flat, you are forcing the shell into the egg which will usually result in wasted time picking out shell bits. Tip: If you ignore this tip and end up with shell in your egg, the quickest way to get it out is to use a portion of the empty shell to scoop it out. It behaves much like a magnet and the shell bit will be drawn to the shell portion.

Tip:
Season with a pinch of salt every time you add a new ingredient into the cooking pan. Reason: The salt keeps every ingredients flavor separate from the next so a carrot tastes like a carrot and an onion tastes like an onion.

Tip:
You can always add more but you can’t remove. Reason: When working with seasonings (especially as a beginner) it’s best to start light. You can always add more seasoning but you can’t remove it once you realize you’ve used too much.

Tip:
Always prepare your ingredients ahead of time. This means cut all your vegetables, season your meats, get your equipment and sauces out and ready to use. Reason: This is called mise en place. (French pronunciation: ​[mi zɑ̃n ˈplas]) It is a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place” or “everything in its place.” It refers to the set up required before cooking. If you want perfectly cooked, delicious food, your mise en place is the key. It will keep you focused on cooking rather than distracted by prepping.

Tip:
If you accidentally over salt your food, place a half a potato into the pan/dish. Reason: The potato will act as a sponge and absorb the excess salt. (Within reason – You can’t absorb an half a salt shaker if you accidentally dumped it.)

Tip:
Always pat your meat dry with a paper towel before cooking it. Reason: Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear. Searing (which causes the Millard reaction) is what gives you rich brown crust and umami flavor.

Tip:
Keep your dried spices in a cool, dark, place. Reason: Heat, light, and humidity will cause your dry spices to become bitter and lose their flavor.

Tip:
If your fond starts to become too dark and look like it might burn, add a dash of water to the pan. Reason: The water with produce a steam that will soften the fond immediately allowing you to scrape it up off the pan surface and lower its temperature to keep it from burning.

Tip:
Always drop seasoning onto your ingredients from up high – about 2 feet above the food. Reason: This produces even distribution and avoids some parts from being seasoned too much and some too little.

Tip:
Buy a really good fish spatula also known as a slotted offset spatula and use it for everything. Reason: it’s more efficient and more delicate than any other spatula and you will love how much easier it is to use. 

Tip:
Chop up excess fresh herbs and put them into an ice cube tray. Cover with water and freeze them. Reason: Fresh herbs go bad quickly. Freezing them into ice cubes will avoid waste and allow you to use them year round simply by adding the herbed ice cube into your dish.

Tip:
Do not add oil to your pasta water. Reason: It keeps the sauce from sticking to the pasta.

Tip:
Preheat your cast iron skillet for at least 15 minutes before cooking anything. Reason: That’s how long it takes the cast iron to heat through evenly.

Tip:
Always rest your meat (after cooking) for a bare minimum of 5 minutes before cutting it. Reason: The proteins within the meat need time to relax so that your meat texture doesn’t remind you of a dry rubber shoe.

Tip:
Don’t sauté too much food at once. (a.k.a. don’t over-crowd your pan.) Reason: Your food will steam instead of sear eliminating the chance for caramelization.

Tip:
Taste your food throughout the cooking process but most importantly before you serve it to someone else. Reason: It will give you a chance to fix issues and save you from being embarrassed if something went wrong.

Tip:
Always heat a stainless steel pan for several minutes before you add a fat like butter or oil. Then heat the fat for about a minute before adding any food to the pan. Reason: It keeps the food from sticking.

 

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