A kitchen is a magical place where all the amazing and delicious food we love were created. It is also a place where all great chefs got their start. It is where they first discovered their gift and passion for cooking which changed their lives forever.
That said, there are also those who are very much reluctant to give cooking in their own kitchen a go because they might be paranoid that the food that they create would fall far from expectation or, if we would go to the extremes, they’re afraid that they will somehow end up burning the house down! Well, if you happen to fall in the latter category, we’re here to tell you that it’s time to let go of your excuses!
Keep in mind that even some of the biggest names in the industry have started from humble beginnings. For all we know, Jamie Oliver, one of the world’s most popular chefs, might have made simple mistakes when he got his start in cooking like burning his scrambled eggs or clumsily breaking a glass or two while cooking. But that did not stop him from pursuing his dreams, did it? Though these scenarios may not have actually happened, as the great Julia Child used to say, “No one is born a great cook. One learns by doing!”
So, to get you started, the team at BookCulinaryVacations.com is sharing the top the ten essential kitchen tips that will help begin your journey in cooking and potentially love doing it!
1. Make sure your ingredients are in place
Before you get started with cooking, it’s advisable to prepare your ingredients beforehand and organize them all in one place - or as the French culinary phrase would say Mise En Place. First things first! Know what dish you would be cooking and from there, you are able to list out the ingredients needed. Get them peeled, measured, chopped - whatever you are required to do with them before you turn on the stove. Also, always be sure that the ingredients are within your reach - you don’t want to burn your sauce while you are busy running around looking for dried herbs or chopping up some garlic!
2. Invest in a sharp knife
Whether you are a professional chef or a home cook, a knife (a sharp one to be specific) is an essential tool for you to have in the kitchen. While preparing to create a meal or a dish, you will require a lot of chopping up of ingredients. We encourage you to invest in a good quality and sharp knife to do the trick. A blunt knife would be much more dangerous and difficult even to slice an apple!
3. Chop your food (not fingers) like a pro!
To cook good food, you are required to have some basic knife skills. Like every other professional chef, the very first skill they are required to learn is to chop up ingredients properly and quickly. But since we are all still beginners in the kitchen, let’s just run through the basics, shall we?
With your dominant hand, be sure that you grip your knife right. Serious Eats has shared the two basic ways in holding a knife: the handle grip and the blade grip. Once comfortably gripped, place your food in a stable position (the base of the food should always be surface flat against the cutting board), curl your fingers of your subordinate hand inwards (like a claw form) and begin cutting your food in a “handshake” like movement. Use your knuckles as a guide for your knife and slice your food with the tip of the knife first down. With lots of practice, you will be chopping away your food with ease or probably even like a professional chef!
4. Slicing onions to prevent tears
Oh how much we dread cutting an onion! It causes our eyes to start stinging with tears and making us weep uncontrollably in the kitchen. As much as we hate cutting into those rascals, onions are great condiments to nearly every dish and truth to be told, we can’t avoid them (especially knowing how tasty those caramelized onions are). That said, we recently found out how this love-hate relationship could work out. Simple! By cutting off the shoot of the onion. The reason why is because according to the Huffpost Taste, this part of the onion contain enzymes that when mixed with water will release sulfuric acid, which would irritate our eyes.
5. Taste before serving
If you’re a big fan of the hit TV reality cooking show, MasterChef, then you probably have heard celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay always reminding the contestants countless of times to taste, taste, and taste before serving them up to the judges! Don’t be afraid to salt your food or add a little spice to it - it could probably be the key ingredient in perfecting your dish. You don’t want your guests to remember you serving them with a tasteless piece of steak!
6. Season your food right
Then again, you won’t want your guests gulping down glasses of water in every bite or screaming “WATER!” because you have gone down too far with your salt, pepper or spices in the dish! Make sure you sprinkle in just the right amount of salt and pepper evenly on your meat or you might have some areas clumping up with more seasoning, while none in another. A way you can do it is to pour out a reasonable amount of salt or pepper from the shaker into a bowl and add them in pinches as you go.
7. Master the skill of cracking eggs
The humble egg is probably one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. From eggs Benedict, deviled eggs, sunny side up, poached eggs and so much more, you can literally whip up countless of egg recipes with it. Before you can start cooking up these dishes, obviously you would need to crack open your eggs first.
If you have been cracking eggs on sharp edges then you have been doing it all wrong. Blogger Daniel from Casual Kitchen has proposed that the proper way of cracking an egg is on a flat surface area or in other words, the blunt force trauma. This would avoid the fragments of eggshells from entering into the center of the egg. So, crack your eggs right or those pesky eggshells can ruin your meal!
8. Learn to cook your pasta well
Not only is pasta a personal favorite food in an Italian household, but it is also no denying that everyone, in general, enjoys a good plate of it for a hearty meal. Who can resist the silky texture of the pasta, melting in your mouth along with that sweetness of the sauce and an added bonus of that creamy cheese flavors?
To get that delicious plate of goodness, the pasta is meant to be cooked ‘Al Dente’ and not too mushy! What ‘Al Dente’ means is that you should have a slight resistance when you bite into the pasta or when cut with a fork. So, in order to have that properly cooked pasta, here are the basic steps to do so. In a pot of boiling water, add salt to taste. Once the salt has been dissolved, you can add in the pasta while stirring it frequently for the first two minutes of it. Continue stirring it occasionally until the pasta is cooked. Give it a taste before draining to see whether it is your liking. As you are draining, be sure you leave a little bit of water in it, but do make sure you do not rinse the pasta with water while doing so. This is because according to The Kitchn, it will remove the starch that helps to stick the sauce - unless you are looking to make a pasta salad. Cook your pasta right and your guests will definitely reward it as the dish of the night!
9. Clean as you go
Be sure to have your kitchen space clean as you go along cooking your meal. Once you have done cracking those eggs, throw them into the bin. After chopping those tomatoes, be sure to give your chopping board a wipe, before proceeding on with slicing the next ingredient. Not doing so might hurt your fingers as the garlic slides off the slippery board. Put those bowls or plates back in place or into the sink after using them. You would want that extra space on the kitchen counter. Another great thing is that you can focus on enjoying the meal rather than having to think about cleaning up the kitchen mess!
10. Have fun in the kitchen and enjoy cooking!
Image credit: Tuscookany
All in all, our last advice to you is to enjoy cooking and have the time of your life in the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where friends and families can gather together cooking home made delicious meals. Nothing brings people together quite like good food. This is also where you have an opportunity to have a good bonding time with your kids, teaching them how to prepare their food. With such practice, it helps them make a healthier choice in life and at the same time enables them to sharpen their culinary skills, as they grow older. And, also who knows, maybe all the time spent in the kitchen, it will help you discover that inner chef you never knew you had? So, let’s start cooking!
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