17 Jan 10 Tips for Basic Cooking
These tips are a few of our own, and several of well-known experts. We aimed to cover cooking those items that everyone cooks or wishes they could cook better. Cooking is a skill that isn’t always passed down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn those great things our Grandma’s knew.
#1 Remember, Y’all, it’s all about the prep. Take away the stress by doing the prep the night or day before. You’ll look like a star. “Paula Dean”
Even for the everyday cook, prep can take the most time. I often cut up more than I need and store it in air tight containers. Pre-cut ingredients like onions, peppers, garlic and having them at the ready will cut down on time spent cooking and cleaning.
#2 Always season meat and fish evenly; sprinkle salt and pepper as though it’s “snowing.” This will avoid clumping or ending up with too much seasoning in some areas and none in others. “Mary Dumonts
Seasoning is important especially on meats. Salt can be used in small increments evenly distributed to help enrich the natural flavors. Always taste your dish throughout the cooking and add spices until you find your desired taste.
#3 For best results when you’re baking, leave butter and eggs at room temperature overnight. “Ina Garten”
Cookies are the number one culprit of coming out flat or thin. By using room temperature ingredients and utilizing the exact amount of baking soda in the recipe baked goods should bake to ideal fluffiness.
#4 Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin. “John Besh”
Recipes can sometimes be deceiving in the way their written. Be sure to read the entire recipe and line up ingredients to cook accurately. Preheat the oven first thing, to provide adequate time while you gather ingredients and prep.
#5 When you’re browning meat, you should blot the surface dry with a paper towel so the meat doesn’t release moisture when it hits the hot oil. Too much moisture makes the meat steam instead of sear, and you will lose that rich brown crust. “Charlie Palmer”
Meat is a delicate item to cook, it is often a hands-off approach that works best. Pat those items dry, season and lay on your cook surface. Flip or stir only when necessary. Many items like burgers and steaks only need flipped 1 time and should otherwise be left to cook. Remove from heat entirely to eliminate overcooking once you’ve turned off the stove or grill.
#6 Invest in parchment paper for lining pans. It makes all of your baked goods super easy to remove, and it makes cleanup a dream (no butter-flour mixture or errant batter to scrape off). “Matt Lewis”
This is an awesome tip especially when these baked goods are for a party or bake sale. No matter how good they taste, the first impression is visual.
#7 “Don’t overcrowd the pan when you’re sautéing — it’ll make your food steam instead.”-
This can be a big problem that will change the texture of your dish entirely. Vegetables like squash, zucchini, tomatoes, etc. cook quickly and become soft when steamed over-sautéed. Cook items quickly and have a large dish ready to move them to. You will prevent overcrowding and residual cooking by removing them from the heat.
#8 “For perfect vegetable soup, start with diced carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes sautéed in oil or butter before you add any liquid. This brings out the taste and caramelizes the sugars.” Shaun Hergatt
While we often love “easy”, throwing raw items in a crockpot can leave flavor untapped. Caramelize your veggies and herbs beforehand and then add liquids and allow to simmer. Seasoning and tasting as it’s cooking will also allow the flavors to really burst. These small tips can make a plain meal taste a bit more like grandma’s flavorful dishes.
#9 Practice, Practice, Practice.
Reading recipes and tips are great but, cooking is about doing. Try out dishes and if they don’t turn out well, try again. I also highly encouraging cooking with a friend, someone who is helpful or wants to learn as well. Cooking should be fun!
#10 Sprinkle cakes with a touch of flower right out of the oven. This will allow the frosting to have more grip rather than sliding right off.
Use a sifter and very lightly let it “snow” flour down on the cake. Be sure to frost evenly and avoid using plastic wraps to cover. Investing in a nice cake carrier or dish is helpful in keeping your cake beautiful and travel better.
We hope these tips get you a few steps closer to a lovely meal and a passion for cooking. Don’t be afraid to share the learning experience with your next generation. Cooking is not only a great way to spend time together, but has a delicious end product. If you have tips or tricks feel free to share in the comments below!