Whether you need to provide for a big family or simply take care of yourself, cooking is a skill that is well worth mastering. If you know how to cook, you will get nutritional, financial and social benefits out of it. The advice here will help you cover the spectrum of cooking from beginning to end.
One of the things that you will need to make sure of is that you do not store your spices above the stove, as this can reduce their quality upon use. Store all of your spices in a cool temperature to maximize the level of flavor that you taste upon consumption.
Place meat in the freezer for a few minutes to make slicing easier. Certain dishes require thin strips of beef, chicken or pork. If the meat is partially frozen, a sharp knife will create perfect thin strips, as it will be less likely to tear or stretch the meat fibers. Though, before cooking the strips, they must completely thaw.
If you feel that a piece of food you are about to cook does not look right or may be rotten, always error on the side of caution and throw it away. It is better to lose a few dollars than to cost yourself the next couple of weeks from food poisoning.
During autumn, apples are an important ingredient in many recipes; however, they do turn bad if they are not carefully stored. Apples rot in dry warm air, so store them in loosely tied plastic bags in the refrigerator or a cool basement. But remember that one bad apple really does spoil the bunch; check on them regularly.
A granite surface is great for thawing frozen foods, usually taking less than half of the time necessary for typical counter top thawing because granite absorbs the cold (and heat) of items placed on top of it so granite literally “sucks out” the cold from your frozen foods. Granite is also an amazing surface for pastry preparation when dusted with a little flour. If you can’t afford to redo your kitchen in granite, check out a granite dealer for scrap pieces or have a smaller piece cut and polished for a fraction of the cost of remodeling your kitchen.
Get creative when you cook your food. Cooking is an art-form. You should not limit yourself to the usual flavors and combinations. Try adding different fresh vegetables in place of canned vegetables. Use varieties not found in canned vegetable mixes. You will soon find your meals have much more flavor.
Before you start cooking, it is best to have everything you will need already prepared. Doing this will allow you to focus on putting the dish together. You won’t waste electricity by letting something cook just a little longer, so you can prep the ingredients for the next step, or be distracted when cooking with hot oil.
Add salt when boiling pasta. Not only does it shorten the cooking time by increasing the temperature of the water, it also adds great flavor and keeps the pasta from tasting bland. A general rule is to add one and a half tablespoons of salt to each pound of pasta.
When you are deep frying foods, try not to fry too much food at once. Overcrowding the deep fryer, will cause the oil temperature to drop and the food will not be as crispy. The key to successful deep frying is to keep enough oil around the foods to keep up the temperature.
In order to save time when you are cooking, you can create beforehand your own blend of spices for different dishes. There are different spice combos for Asian, Italian, Mexican, or Indian cuisines. An easy “American” blend would be combining cinnamon and sugar for a quick cinnamon toast as a nice morning or evening treat.
Get perfectly beaten egg whites. For perfectly beaten egg whites, use a copper bowl. Copper makes the egg whites more stable and they can be whipped to a greater volume. There is an ion in copper that binds with the protein in egg whites, causing them to become more stable. If you don’t have a copper bowl, a stainless bowl will achieve the same results by adding a little cream of tartar to the eggs whites prior to beating.
Take care of your wood cutting board. A cutting board made from wood can crack and warp if it is exposed to excessive moisture, heat and dryness. A wooden cutting board will be ruined if it is placed into water. If your board is damaged you, can restore it by applying oil regularly, using an oil specially formulated for use on wood cutting boards. It should be completely dry before its next use.
If a dish requires thinly sliced meats (like some Chinese dishes, for example), freeze the meat before slicing. This makes it hold its shape better when you are slicing, which allows the knife to cut through with a cleaner line. When meat is thawed out, you often have to use a sawing motion to cut the beef, which can make your lines uneven and jagged.
Reduce the stress of cooking for a lot of people by preparing the ingredients the day before or earlier in the day. This helps prevent burning certain dishes because your attention is on preparing another dish. When you prepare the ingredients beforehand, you can focus all your attention on cooking the best meal possible.
It is important to soften, but not melt the butter when you are creaming sugar and butter for cookies. If the butter has melted, you should allow it to briefly harden in the freezer. An alternative is to mix the butter with the other ingredients, then allow the dough or batter to sit in the refrigerator. Dough that has been chilled first will help your cookies retain their shape better instead of spreading out.
Cooking for yourself or family can greatly benefit you. No matter your taste bud’s preferences, learning to cook can enrich your life. It may be easy to go out to eat, but nothing is better than home cooking!