Cooking comes naturally to most people. Some are just born with a talent for cooking, while others seem lost in the kitchen. However, regardless of which group you belong to, you will make a mistake from time to time. Like with any other skill, getting better at cooking takes time and practice. Whether it is overcooking, under-boiling or completely messing up the recipe, these things can happen to anyone. But worry no more! Here are some of the most common food preparing mistakes and tips to help you become the best chef in your household.
Soak it up
Some foods are just plain hard. Because of this property they require a long cooking time or even starting the preparation the day before. However, if you want to cut short the time, you should soak up the food prior to cooking it. For example, if you want to make great baked beans you could use this technique. After being submerged in the water for a few hours, they will soften and make the whole process of boiling them a lot easier, and faster. Moreover, this could be done with potatoes, too. Soak up the potatoes, or even boil them for a few minutes before frying. Soaking will make your life easier.
Know your fat and oil type
There are many types of fats and oils you could cook with. Some are good, others are better. They also have something called a smoke point. This represents the temperature at which they start to burn. So, the fats and oils with a higher smoke point, like butter or animal fat, are better for frying or cooking, while those with a lower point, olive or sunflower oil, are better for salads and dressings. It is worth noting that too much fat is unhealthy, but cutting it completely out of your diet is bad, too. For instance, it is suggested to limit your fat intake to no more than 35% of your total daily calories, because insufficient fat intake could lower your natural testosterone production.
Do not waste any food
If it is edible, do not throw it away! Food shouldn’t be wasted, especially since almost every bit could be used in one way or another. Potatoes could be fried with the skin on, or perhaps you could use the skin to add crunchiness to your dressing or just eat the roasted skin alone. The stems of most vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower or parsley, could be used in salads, as well. Additionally, you could use carrot greens as an addition to your soup. Either way, every part should have its purpose in your kitchen.
Know what you eat
Reading a book or two on fruits, vegetables, meats, and food in general, could be a good start to sharpening your cooking skill. Not only will you learn how to cook them, but you could find out everything about them – how long it takes to prepare a certain type of food, how to recognize if it is healthy and much more. For instance, when buying fish, you should pay attention to how it looks, feels and smells. If the smell is “fishy” that means it has been out of water for more than enough. Fresh fish doesn’t smell so bad. Also, fresh fish is firm to the touch. Another important thing you should know are the health benefits of each food. Some types are more nutritious than others, and some could be cancer causing foods such as canned goods, non-organic fruits or microwave popcorn.
Watch the temperature
First things first, before putting anything in the pot, on the grill or frying pan, the temperature needs to be high enough. If you put the food in while the pan is cold, whatever you are cooking will stick. Because of this, you will leave parts of the food behind and make the pan incredibly difficult to clean. That is why you need to make sure that the temperature is ideal. However, once you put the food in, be careful not to burn it by turning the heat up. Just think about the meat you prepare. If you burn it, it loses its original taste and deliciousness. This is true for pasta as well – overcooked pasta is bad and it sticks both to the pan and your plate. Therefore, finding the right temperature is crucial for a perfect meal.
Careful with seasoning
Adding various spices and herbs could be key to certain meals. But, being too loose with your fingers could ruin the whole experience. Too much salt will make it impossible to finish the meal; too much parsley or basil will overpower the taste of the food. So, be gentle when reaching for the spices. Also, certain spices are good for your health, but there are those that can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. Moderation is key.
Armed with these great cooking tips, you will be able to prepare delicious meals that everyone will compliment you on. Although most people tend to make big mistakes even when it comes to the basics, a few simple changes to the way you prepare your food will ensure that everything is both tasty and healthy.