Tips that will surely make you a better cook this summer (and forever more)
Cooking seems to be a skill that most think is the hardest in the universe to learn. Here’s a little secret…..IT’S NOT! Just like any other skill you want to learn, you have to practice in order to become better. I didn’t start out knowing how to roast root vegetables, make mousse, or construct entremets. It stems from wanting to be better in the kitchen. I am by no means the best in the world, but I have journeyed through the seven kingdoms to get to where I am now. And I will not stop until I’m sitting on the Iron Throne.
There are some things that I had to learn the hard way and countless burned and tasteless meals that I have made. Hopefully what I have learned can help you to hone your inner chef and start showing up and showing out in the kitchen.
Always read the recipe first.
I cannot stress how important this is and how many people will skim through a recipe and wonder why it did not come out right. My chef instructor would always stress if you are preparing a recipe for the first time, be sure to follow directions carefully. Do not deviate from the formula. This way you know what the base tastes like and can edit it as you see fit when you prepare it in the future.
I have a plethora of notebooks full of recipes with notes scribbled on them. Anytime I try something different, I have to make sure I make note of it. If I don’t, I will forget and won’t be able to repeat it. So whenever you deviate from the recipe, be sure to make note of it. I suggest buying a cheap notebook and using it as your “cooking journal.”
Mise en place or “Everything in its place”
Mise en place is just a fancy French saying that means “everything in its place” or “putting into place.” Make sure to gather everything and prep all ingredients for cooking. Cut what you need to cut. Measure what you need to measure. Make sure that you have everything you need prepped and ready to go. You wouldn’t want to risk burning oil because you’d rather chop your veggies while it is heating up. Remember, timing is everything in cooking.
Take care of your knives.
A sharp knife is essential in the kitchen. It makes kitchen life easier and more efficient. Whether it’s a Shun Hana 8” chef’s knife or a Kitchenaid set from Target, take care of them. Always hand wash your knives. Do not put them in the dishwasher. The heat will dull the blade. It is always best to keep them in the block, magnetic strip, or a sleeve. Get them professionally sharpened at least once a year.
Use a thermometer.
This is for those of you who continue to cut into your meat to see if it’s done. Doing that allows all the delicious juices to run out and dry the meat. It’s bbq season, so let’s do it some justice.
Taste as you go.
Don’t wait until the end to taste your meal. Do it while you are cooking it. In the cooking process, flavors change constantly. It may lose a certain flavor the longer it cooks, so be sure to taste it during and not when it’s finished.
Use a damp towel underneath your cutting board.
Having trouble with your cutting board moving every time you’re cutting? I have an easy solution for you. Grab a kitchen towel and dampen it. Place it under your cutting board and it will no longer move while you cut.
Use herbs and spices
I love my sea salt and pepper, I swear I do. But I know there is more to seasoning than those two. At first, I was afraid to use them for fear of a messing up something. And I sure did. But I didn’t let that stop me. I started researching and experimenting. I haven’t looked back since. Don’t be afraid to try something different. Herbs and spices can take the most boring piece of chicken and make it a masterpiece. They also add flavor without the addition of extra calories.
I do enjoy using salt. It’s a natural flavor enhancer and can bring life to the simplest recipes. I typically use sea salt over kosher or iodized salt. Do not be afraid of adding salt to your cooking, unless you have a health condition that prohibits salt consumption.
This is the most enjoyable part of cooking. Being able to experiment and explore different flavors and styles of cooking. Do not be afraid to try something new. Search the internet for inspiration. Pinterest and Instagram are overflowing with creativity. Cooking can be a stress reliever; just don’t stress yourself while doing it. You will burn something, forget an ingredient, or make a mistake and add too much of something. It happens. Learn from it. Write it in your culinary journal and keep it moving. Life is too short to dwell on one bad meal.
Now who’s going to let me be their taste tester??
Written By: Chef Teefah
CEO of Frosted Beauty