While a Kenmore vacuum is great for cleaning the house, there’s no machine that can replace the efforts of a real home-chef and make a nice, delicious meal. Learning to control the knife, control your hands and choose the right ingredients can make a world of difference in the quality of your meal.
Why learn this?
No matter if you’re living alone, with a roommate or with a family of your own, the art of cooking has always been extremely important in most cultures around the world. Learning to cook delicious dishes can be the start of building beautiful relationships, making your kids happy or scoring some points with that special person you have a thing for.
Furthermore, this is also a great way to discipline yourself, learn something new for that New Year’s resolution or keep starvation away if you are starting college in a city far away from your dear mother. With this in mind, there are tons of online classes and courses you can take if you want to become more proficient in this area.
That being said, you don’t always have to go to a fancy cooking school in order to become more skilled in the kitchen. If you know where to look, you can find many easy and small things that you can try to improve on in order to get better-looking and professionally-tasting results for your efforts.
Controlling the knife
Using your chef knife properly will go a long way toward helping you master the kitchen and making it your playground. You want to aim for as much control as possible so you have to choke up on the handle.
To achieve this, put your thumb and the side of your index finger onto the side of the blade and pay special attention to end up just above the handle.
It would behoove you to invest in a good knife from the get-go and take special care to always keep it nice and sharp because this also makes it more durable.
A chef’s blade is known for being longer and wider than regular, household knives and once you learn to use it, you will feel more empowered in your kitchen as it will give you more speed and control.
The best ingredients
While it may seem like a moot point, good food is almost always made with good ingredients. To this extent, you’ll probably want to take some time and identify places that offer fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other necessary things.
For instance, you will always get better results and tastier pasta dishes if you use imported Parmigiano-Reggiano rather than domestic parmesan from the store on the corner of the street as those two can hardly stand to be compared.
If you’re into cakes, excellent, high-quality chocolate will make your sweet tooth much more satisfied than some plain chocolate bars from the dollar store.
We have to go one step further here and point out that fresh homemade breadcrumbs are really above and beyond anything you might find in a store that is labeled as ‘’packaged crumbs’’.
The hand and nothing but the hand
When it comes to cooking tools, there are none better than your own two hands, provided you know how to use them properly.
By paying attention to the way different ingredients and foods feel at different degrees while cooking, you can learn to develop this sense of touch up to the point where you’re just as accurate as if you would be by using a thermometer or a toothpick.
For instance, meat changes its texture quite a lot depending on its doneness. A rare piece of meat will feel quite soft while a person who likes it to be well done will find the texture firm.
Pastry-wise, you can also use your sense of touchy-touchy to find out whether a cake is done baking, a dough is done kneading, or even if a pear is ripe.
As salty as they come
For the best flavor, most experts recommend that you make the switch to kosher or sea salt and use it abundantly.
These two ingredients will enrich your taste palate as they bring a much better flavor than plain-old table salt. Even though you should avoid making your food salty, going to the opposite extreme and using none at all can spell disaster for your cooking efforts as anything you do will taste quite bland.
Also, keep in mind that even if the recipe you are following suggests a certain quantity of salt, you may need to adapt that to your own or your family’s tastes as not everybody has the same palate.
Freedom of the pan
While the ancient Greeks used the word ‘’pan’’ to describe their god of wilderness, your cooking pan can never fit the description of that adjective.
Rather, you have to always make sure that the pieces of food you have in there still allow you to see the bottom of the pan. If you use too much food in one cooking session you will actually lower the pan’s temperature and also create quite a lot of steam in the process.
By doing this, you will almost certainly never get that crisp, good-looking browning from your meat. Furthermore, even though it’s important to wash the food before cooking it, sautéing requires it to be dry so don’t forget to do that before getting the pan good and hot.
Less liquid, more flavor
This is quite an important tip as many people like to use water or wine to add that extra bit of flavor to their foods. However, too much of it can be a bad thing so, for instance, if you’ve just braised meat or vegetables, make sure to remove the main ingredient and take a little time to reduce the sauce a bit, before offering it as a serving.
When you deglaze a pan, a good tip to reduce the liquid in there is to up the cooking temperature a little bit because high heat will make it go away that much faster. Homemade stocks are also meant to be reduced before using them.
At the same time, too little liquid can lead to your food becoming sticky and not cooking enough, especially if you are using a powerful flame. Therefore, you need to pay attention every step of the way to make sure you prepare the most delicious dish possible.
The secret to a good pie
This is a great tip for pastry lovers and if you don’t take our word for it, we’ll be okay to stand by your grandma’s trial with this method. When baking pastry doughs, you can make them taste much better by cooking them just a tad bit longer than you would’ve initially thought necessary.
By doing this, you allow the sugars in the crust to caramelize and this alone will make a world of difference when it comes to the final taste. In terms of looks, you want to go for full-on brown rather than just pale blond.
Know when to eat meat
While (almost) everybody knows and loves a good piece of meat every once in a while and some even more than that, cooking it is not always as simple as it sounds.
Even if you’re cooking at home and you’ve just got back from work and are basically starving, allow a couple of minutes for the roasted meat to rest before digging in. This way, you allow the juices inside to redistribute and you’ll get a much tastier end product.
A good home chef will always have a bottle of vinegar or citrus juice in the cabinet due to the many uses one can find for them. While salads are a given, you can actually use a final splash of this special acid to perk up the flavor of your meals that contain meat or vegetables.
Even better, the fruits in that dessert will taste better and livelier in your mouth when sprinkled with some citrus juice beforehand.
Time is relative
There’s a lot of room for error in the kitchen, especially when trying to cook a new recipe and you’re prone to all the first-time mistakes. For instance, any good set of cooking instructions will have some form of the words ‘’bake until golden brown’’ or ‘’bake until reduced’’ somewhere in the text.
Rather than looking at the actual clock and timing the entire process, aim to reach the state described in the text as oven power may vary but the looks of the dish certainly never will.