Although cooking a meal from scratch sometimes feels like second nature and to some people it seems to be a natural gift, there are plenty of us who just don’t have experience or skills when it comes to food. If you’re inexperienced in the kitchen and you’re prone to mishaps and kitchen disasters, don’t give up on your culinary skills just yet.
Here are 5 simple cooking tips that will have you approaching expert or beginner cooking recipes with the confidence of a pro:
1. Don't Overcrowd the Pan
This tip is twofold as it affects the texture of your food and its ability to cook evenly.
It may seem like a good idea to squeeze that last, lonesome piece of steak into the pan, but once you get your pan up to the best temperature for frying, adding cold produce will lower the overall heat in the pan. Which means that the heat will not be evenly distributed to your food, which will prevent it from cooking evenly.
As it cooks, food releases moisture. In an overcrowded pan, this will cause the food to steam instead of browning and developing that lovely golden-brown sear you always see on your favourite cooking shows. The searing effect serves to lock moisture into your food, especially meats. So, give your food the space to do its thing in the pan, to avoid dry, soggy textured meals
2. Toasting Spices Makes Them Better
Harness the full flavour of your spices with a little bit of heat. Heat activates and intensifies the flavour of your spices for enhanced depth of flavour.
If you are making a mild and spicy curry and you want to get the best flavour out of your medium curry powder try gently toasting your curry powder in a pan on a low heat for about 2-3 minutes. This will extract the most flavour from your spices and give your food a more robust taste.
3. Add Salt to Boiling Pasta Water
Quintessential for any successful pasta dish, this classic tip will save you from ever having to endure a bland bowl of bolognaise again.
Salting your pasta water is the best way to evenly season each noodle, inside and out. Which is why it is so important for ensuring a well-seasoned noodle sensation. Add enough salt to your pasta water so that you can taste it, but not so much that you aren’t getting bowled over by the brine.
This will provide the foundation for a delicious pasta dish and will give your pasta dish a flavourful start.
4. Get Your Sauce Perfect
Here, you are cooking according to purpose, meaning, what you are using the sauce for. You may need a thinner sauce for a casserole recipe, or a thicker sauce for gravies. Whatever the recipe calls for, getting your sauce to that perfect consistency will take some trial and error.
If you need to thicken up your sauce, a simple fix is to mix 1-2 teaspoons of cornflour in a cup with some boiling water to form a paste. Mix this in with your sauce or gravy and cook on a low heat until it thickens up.
5. Seasoning Is King
Always make sure to add salt and pepper to your cooking but be cautious of over-salting. When adding salt, use other seasonings sparingly as they can contain added salt. Proper seasoning can take a dish from tasteless to delicious. Remember to keep tasting your food to get the right amount of seasoning. Seasoning can transform a bland mince and veg into a delicious family favourite.
So, if you’re still finding your feet in the kitchen and in need of some simple recipes for beginners, these tips will help give your culinary skills an upgrade.
In the end though, it’s practice that makes perfect. So visit whatsfordinner to get some recipe inspiration to take you from a novice in the kitchen to master chef.