Contributed by Lindsay Shugerman, Catalogs.com Top 10 Guru
Whether you’re brand new to cooking, or just want to make sure you have the basics covered,
here are 10 basic cooking tips for everyone who prepares a meal, bakes a cake or just wants to feel a little more in control in the kitchen.
10. Have good measurement tools handy
Unless you’re an experienced chef with years of experience behind you, odds are you should be using a good set of measuring cups and spoons when you cook. Keep them within reach so you’re not tempted to guess on a critical ingredient. If you can, get a few sets to make measuring dry ingredients after wet ones easier.
9. Get the best knives you can afford
A really good set of knives are probably one of the most important tools a cook can have. Another important basic cooking tip: learn how to use knives properly. It will reduce your food prep time, and keep your fingers safe!
8. Understand basic cooking terms
If you’re spending time trying to remember the difference between poach and blanch, it’s time to review your basic cooking terms. Keep a card or list handy if you need to, especially if you’re just learning how to cook.
7. Check for ingredients before starting a recipe
The movies and TV tell us that borrowing a cup of sugar is a great way to meet your neighbors, but in real life, the neighbors might not be home. Or might not have that missing piece of your dinner menu. One of the best time (and stress saving) basic cooking tips is to check for all your cooking or baking ingredients before you start any recipe. A trip to the store is easier before you have something on the stove.
6. Have a “basic substitutions” list handy
There will be times when you’ll run out of an ingredient or the milk will be sour, and you’ll need to make a substitution to keep your recipe on track. Some recipe books have lists of basic substitutions in the back. If yours don’t, get one online and post it inside of a cabinet or pantry for easy reference.
5. Consider family and guest food allergies and special diets
Before you start cooking for family, friends or guests, make sure you have a clear picture of special food needs. From food allergies to vegetarian diets to religious food restrictions, knowing these limitations in advance will help you plan safe, enjoyable and respectful meals for everyone at your table.
4. Create a well-stocked pantry of staples and extras
There will be times when you need to cook an unplanned meal or just want to get creative and make something that wasn’t on the menu. Having a well stocked pantry with the staples plus extras with good shelf life will make those last-minute meals and snacks easy to handle.
3. Invest in a good set of pots and pans
Sure, you can probably cook with only a couple of pots and pans. But when you can, build up your collection to include a variety of pots and pans designed for different recipe types. Having a double boiler, saute pan, or the right baking dish will make it easier to get the results you want from your recipes.
2. Know your oven
Every oven cooks differently, even if they’re the same size, set at the same temperature on the dial. Knowing whether your oven cooks hot, slow or unevenly will let you adjust your baking times accordingly.
1. Try new things
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut with your cooking, especially if you’ve been doing it for awhile. Make it a point to try new recipes or explore new cuisines. Taking a cooking class is a great way to open new avenues for menus and dishes you may never have considered before.