Cooking can be very rewarding and therapeutic in nature…It allows you to create something delicious and satisfying to eat. There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from successfully preparing a meal. It allows you to express your creativity, giving you the opportunity to be creative and try out new recipes or put your own spin on dishes. It can be a social activity – cooking for friends and family can be a great way to bond and share a meal together. It can save money because cooking at home is often cheaper than eating out or ordering takeout. And it can be great for your health; when you cook your own meals, you have more control over the ingredients and can make healthier choices.
Becoming a great cook takes time and effort. The phrase “Practice Makes Perfect” comes to mind. The more you cook, the more comfortable you will become in the kitchen, and willing to try new more challenging recipes. Definitely start simple, but intend to work your way up. Keep things clean and organized, and never forget about food safety. And always respect the knife blade, or keep lots of bandaids close by.
It can also be very frustrating when a minor mistake can lead to entire dinner for 8 being tossed in the garbage. So here are the Top 10 tips all amateur cooks should consider as you start your path to successful and tasty meals:
1. Read the recipe thoroughly before starting to cook.
Pull the recipe aside, separate it from other materials and content. Make sure you have all the instructions and study it over before you start. This will help you avoid missing important steps or not having all the necessary ingredients. Some recipes have a vital process that must be followed, and sometimes there is no time to hesitate or find the missing item. Be prepared up front.
2. Prep ingredients in advance.
If you do not have all the ingredients measured out in advance, it can lead to a cluttered cooking space and the need to rush through steps in the recipe. Have it organized and proportioned in the order it is to be used in the recipe. You can be far more efficient with this ready as you go.
3. Use a timer.
It’s easy to get distracted while cooking, especially if you’re new to it. A timer can help ensure that you don’t overcook or undercook your food. It will also help you keep track of what is going to happen next. A good chef has multiple timers ready depending on the complexity of the meal. With timers on all smart phones these days, you will likely always have one on hand. For example, when making this Pesto Pasta, timing is critical.
Other polls about food can be found here, like “What are your favorite pizza toppings?”
4. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of meat and other dishes.
This is especially important for dishes that need to be cooked to a specific temperature, such as roasted chicken or beef tenderloin. Temperature maintenance is also sometimes used for liquids where you need to work with something before it reaches boiling temperature.
5. Have the right type of pan.
Using a pan that is too small or too large for the recipe can affect the way the food cooks. If you are not sure, do some searching to find out suitable alternatives. If you cannot find one, stop what you are doing and get one from a local store or order online. It can make or break your creation and you will not be happy wasting your food.
6. Season the food enough.
This can lead to bland and unappealing dishes. Be sure to taste your food as you go and adjust the seasoning as needed. Salt is a perfect example. Many salt their food at the end, but it should be as you progress. Follow proportions very accurately, and understand what a “pinch” really means for example. Have conversion guides ready should the need come up. Need a second opinion? Find someone else to take a taste test and let you know what they think.
7. Do not overcrowd the pan.
When cooking on the stovetop, it’s important to give your ingredients enough space to cook evenly. Overcrowding the pan can cause the food to steam instead of sear, which can affect the flavor and texture. Some pans and stovetops also have hot and cold spots, and when the food is tightly packed in, it will cook unevenly. Rotate pans around on the burners as well, even if not crowded, to help ensure even heat dispersion. Have enough pot holders handy as well if you need to do lots of handling.
8. Let the food rest after cooking.
This is especially important for meat dishes. Allowing the food to rest for a few minutes before serving allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful dish. Make sure you have the space set aside for this so when your meat comes out, you can get it resting right away.
9. Use a sharp knife.
A dull knife can make cutting and prep work more difficult and time-consuming. It can also be more dangerous as you have to apply more force to cut through ingredients. Sharp knives make quick work, so be sure to have a good set or sharpener nearby. It is recommended that you sharpen after each use so they are ready on the next project.
10. Clean as you go.
Keeping your cooking space clean as you work can make the cooking process more efficient and enjoyable. It can also help prevent cross-contamination of ingredients. This also saves a ton of time and headache when the food is done and it is time to relax.
11. Bonus Tip! Have fun!!
Honestly, don’t worry about screwing up. Failing is important for learning. But most of all, have fun, don’t take it too seriously. Cooking can be a blast, so enjoy yourself and you will be back in the kitchen before you know it making your next creation!
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