Cooking is more than just following a recipe. The key is to know the right ways to prep, to use your ingredients, to clean up and how to prevent things from going wrong. Click through to check out some of our best cooking tips, and share your own in the comments!
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1. Carefully study a recipe before you start to cook. Sure, cooking is intuitive, but if you’re not clear on a certain concept, or don’t have a tool the recipe calls for, you’re setting yourself up for problems down the road.
2. Mise en place. This is so, so important. Mise en place is the art (and it is an art!) of having everything ready before you start cooking. Chop up all of those vegetables before turning on the burner. Grate the cheese before the oven goes on. Have that butter set out at room temperature all ready to go. If there’s any one thing you can do to make your food shine, having everything ready in advance is it. That way, food isn’t burning on the stovetop because you’re too busy prepping ingredients.
3. Knives. They’re key! Always use a sharp knife. Know how to properly hold a knife, and know the best way to use it. Using knives properly is an essential cooking skill, and an essential keeping all of your fingers skill, too. This video has great tips.
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Fruits & Veggies.
4. Revive limp veggies like carrots, potatoes, asparagus and celery by placing them in a bowl of ice water and refrigerating for 45 minutes.
5. If you’re sauteing both onions and garlic, never add them in together, because garlic doesn’t require as much cooking time. Add onions first, and saute them for at least half of the cooking time before adding the garlic.
6. If you’re making something with citrus zest, always use organic fruit. In the United States, citrus fruits are sprayed with a number of pesticides and fungicides that tend to linger on the peel, and no amount of washing will remove them.
7. If tomatoes are too acidic for you, add some chopped carrots to the sauce or other tomato based food. It will cut down on the acid without compromising the flavor.
8. Nobody wants a soggy salad. Prevent that by putting an inverted saucer into the botton of the salad bowl before preparing. The water will drain under the saucer and stop the sogginess.
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Eggs & Dairy.
9. Hate cleaning the cheese grater? Spray a little vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray on the grater before you grate cheese. Clean up will be a breeze!
10. Separating an egg isn’t as hard as it sounds. Without breaking the yolk, crack an egg into a funnel placed in a small bowl or measuring cup. The white will go through the funnel.
11. Always use unsalted butter, so you can control the saltiness yourself. The same rule applies for stocks!
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12. Try this great trick for making stock. Place all of the ingredients in a metal pasta insert. Put it in the pot, and cook. Remove the insert when the stock is done.
13. Save the rinds of parmesan and romano cheese. Add to stocks and soups to boost the flavor.
14. To intensify the flavor of dried herbs, crush them and soak them in hot water for a few seconds before you use them.
15. Salt pasta water just as it is starting to boil. Always. 1-2 tablespoons per pound should do it, and, because most of the salt will not be absorbed by the pasta, it’s not a huge hit on your health.
16. For great, rich pasta sauces, set aside about 1/4 cup of the (salted!) pasta water before draining. When you’re stirring the pasta and sauce, add a little bit of the water at a time.