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30 Practical Tips to Make You a Better Cook!

by Iliana Aguilar

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Cooking is an activity that is often viewed as fun and relaxing so it’s no surprise that many food lovers around the globe consider it as one of their favorite hobbies! That said, others may prefer to cook for a variety of reasons such as: to maintain a healthier lifestyle, to lose some weight, or to save money by preparing their own fresh meals at home instead of dining out.

Regardless of the reasons why we opt to cook, we all want the same results: scrumptious homemade dishes!

This is why we decided to compile 30 of the most useful cooking tips from professional chefs and food lovers alike! We hope that these tips will come in handy in helping you to create great tasting meals for you and your loved ones on a daily basis. So what are you waiting for? Try a couple of these tips today and be ready to whip up a storm in your own kitchen!


Save Time by NOT Stewing Vegetables

Stewing vegetables is often a great way to make vegetables taste better but this is not true for all vegetables! Asparagus, broccoli, kale, and chard or zucchini for example, are incredibly delicious without being stewed. Not only that, overcooked vegetables often provide nearly zero nutrients to your body. So if you are unsure on how to stew vegetables the right way or simply don’t have time to do it, why not skip this step and eat them raw? Just make sure to give them a good scrub first!


Make Soup with Left-Over Tortillas

Not sure of what to do with those tortillas left over from last night’s dinner? How about using it to make a spicy-hot tortilla soup? It sounds odd but trust us, great flavors can come from unexpected food combinations! Mix onions, garlic, and chicken broth with a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with an immersion blender.  Once this soup base is ready and served in bowls, add small strips of fried corn tortillas, chopped cilantro, fresh bell pepper, and some jalapeño rings. Yum!


cooking tips, tortilla soup

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The Rule of Three

You might be surprised but no more than three ingredients are needed to cook a simple dish yet delicious with tons of flavor! Skeptical? The secret behind this rule is to find the correct balance between each flavor. If you’re unsure of how to use this tip, just remember the advice of Food Network’s TV host, Ina Garten: ‘It has to be clear what you’re eating. If it’s a plum tart, you should know there are plums in there, and I do something with cassis that enhances the flavor of plums!”


Substitute Onions with Onion Powder

Peeling and chopping onions are one of the toughest tasks when cooking. If you think that the best solution is to omit it, you may want to think it twice, as onions are a key ingredient found in many world cuisines, including Italian, Asian, and Mexican. What you can do instead is to substitute it with onion powder you can easily find at your nearest grocery store. Fret not, no one will notice the difference. P.S: Garlic powder is also a great substitute for whole garlic.


cooking tips, onion powder

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Freeze Tofu!

If you’ve already tried to cook tofu, you may already know that it is not easy due the texture of this ‘jiggly’ soybean product. It is also quite fragile and has a tendency to break into small pieces. By freezing and then defrosting it, you’ll remove most of the water and get a firm and ‘spongy’ texture that easily absorbs any sauce or flavor!


Microwave Lemons to Get More Juice

You will not believe all the things that can be done with a microwave! If you have a bunch of lemons in the fridge and want to get as much juice as possible, put them in the microwave, preheat for 20 seconds, and squeeze. Voilà! You’ll instantly get more juice! 


cooking tips, lemons, microwave

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Cut, Chop, And Mince Vegetables and Fruits with a Ceramic Knife

A good-quality knife is a basic tool in every kitchen, it will save you lots of precious minutes. If you frequently prepare vegetable or fruit salads, we highly recommend you to get yourself a ceramic knife. Your fresh food will not oxidize as fast as it would with steel knives and it will last longer!


Stop Soaking Dried Beans

You may be surprised that soaking dried beans overnight doesn’t actually make them taste better. So what should you do instead? All you need to do is follow Russ Parsons’s, The California Cook, advice: ‘Cook the beans at 350 Fahrenheit degrees rather than 250 Fahrenheit. It saves time with no damage to flavor or texture.’


cooking tips, dried beans

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Read Cookbooks 

Yup, we are not kidding, try reading recipes books just for fun! If you happen to be a book lover, you’ll be happy to know that cookbooks are a great source of useful reading materials. By perusing through recipes, you’ll inevitably pick up cooking tips that will help you improve your cooking skills and get lots of ideas on how to create delicious homemade meals while you’re at it!


Learn to Properly Season Food

This may sound complicated, but trust us, it’s a piece of cake! Seasoning food is about adding our personal touch to any dish. The easiest way to start is by adding salt and pepper, then you can use other spices (such as basil, garlic, paprika, dried celery, or ginger) or even create your own spice combinations! Of course, practice is required, but once you enjoy the fruits of your labor, you won’t regret the time you’ve invested.


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Salted Butter Is Not Necessary

According to some culinary experts, salted butter only works perfectly when adding more flavor to a dish that’s already cooked and about to be consumed. The reason behind this is that recipes usually include the necessary amount of salt needed for the dish. If you use salted butter for the dish, you’ll end up with a dish that is too salty!


Use Chicken Fat to Enhance Dishes’ Flavors

Although chicken fat is a great ingredient that helps to boost flavors of foods, very few people know exactly how to use it in their cooking. First, save the fat that is left in the pan after frying chicken or the jelly-textured fat that floats on a cooled chicken soup, put it into a plastic holder and store it in your fridge. It comes in handy as a substitute for oil and butter!


chicken fat, cooking tips

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Master One Recipe

Choose one mouthwatering dish, learn to cook it to perfection, and always keep enough of its ingredients in the pantry. This way you will be ready for a really busy day since you will not spend too much time in the kitchen and the result of your labor will have an awesome flavor. As Chef Cynthia Keller suggests ‘Practice and perfect this one move and use it often. Rather than trying something new every time, you will have one great thing in your roster.’


Prepare Your Own Salads Dressings

It might seem unnecessary to prepare salad dressings at home when numerous options of dressings can be found at the supermarket, right? But there are three reasons to prepare salad dressings at home: it’s healthier, cheaper, and simple! An awesome dressing recipe can easily be prepared at home with 6 healthy ingredients or even less. Take out salad dressing from your grocery list and prepare your own at home just like pro chefs do!


homemade salad dressing

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Double Fry French Fries

You don’t need a secret ingredient to enjoy gourmet French fries at home, just fry them twice! Yes, that’s it! Not all the water contained in a potato is equally distributed. For this reason, frying them once is not enough to completely evaporate it. By frying them a second time, you will drain the last remnants of the water and end up with crispy, golden-brown French fries!


When Pan-Frying a Fish, Keep an Eye On Temperatures

A mouthwatering fish fillet stuck on the pan is one of the worst things that can happen when you are cooking. Luckily for us, The Reluctant Gourmet has shared useful tips to prevent this ‘issue’. First, make sure that your fish fillet has been out of the fridge for more than fifteen minutes. Then, preheat the pan for a few minutes. You will know the pan has reached cooking temperature when a few drops of water immediately boil on the pan.



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Freezing Bread Will Save You Money

If you do not eat bread that often and don’t want throw away the leftover every time it goes bad, why not save it in the freezer? Freezing bread is super easy, it doesn’t affect the flavor, and the best thing is that you will have fresh bread available at any time. Plastic packaging, freezer bags, airtight containers or heavy-duty aluminum foil work really good to package bread before freezing. Cakes and home-baked goodies can also be frozen! P.S. Bread is only well preserved when stored in the freezer, not in the fridge.


Use Wood Cooking Utensils

In addition to making your kitchen look nicer, Healthy-Cookware has several reasons that will convince you to go for wood cooking utensils. They will not scratch the surface of your cookware, they are safer and healthier to use them since they do not conduct heat, don’t leach harmful chemicals into your food, and have natural germ-killing properties. Last but not least, they are eco-friendly items made out a natural and renewable resource.


wood cooking utensils

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Keep Color and Nutrients in Your Steamed Vegetables

You can easily know whether a vegetable has been overcooked by its color. This is important not only because colorful steamed vegetables are more appealing but also because an overcooked steamed vegetable has fewer nutrients than a properly steamed vegetable. Don’t worry, the solutions are very simple. 1. Keep in mind that the cooking time for vegetables is from five to seven minutes or, 2. you can add a dash of baking soda to the boiling water. You may want to go easy on the baking soda as one of the side effects is that vegetables tend to get softer.


It’s OK Not to Peel (Organic) Vegetables

Have you ever asked yourself why we peel vegetables before we cook them? Mark Bittman, New York Times’ writer, does not peel anymore some of his organic grown produce such as carrots, sunchokes, eggplant, asparagus, and potatoes, and he’s more than happy with it! Vegetables taste incredibly better, valuable time is saved, and health benefits are gained. So how about following Mark’s advice and start getting the benefits of not peeling your organic produce?


cooking tips

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Delicious Pasta is In the Details

Chef Mario Batali has a couple of simple tips you can use to enhance the flavor of the pasta. Here are some of our favorites: 1. Always add the pasta to the pan before the sauce starts to boil, 2. use cold butter if you are making pasta with a butter based sauce 3. Create an awesome combination of flavors by adding fresh herbs or raw tomatoes and olive oil both on the pasta and the sauce and lastly, 4. Only add cheese once the pasta and sauce have been removed from the heat.


Keep a Bottle of Vinegar at Hand

We highly recommend you to keep a bottle of vinegar in your pantry as it happens to be a handy tool when cooking. Vinegar makes a great substitute for lemon! You can easily cook fish by soaking it in a mix of vinegar and water; use vinegar as a potato whitener of peeled potatoes that went brown; a rinse of vinegar is an effective bacteria killer in vegetables and fruits, and finally, if you want to use the last bits kept in your dressing bottle, pour some vinegar in it, the remains will easily come out.


cooking tips

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Use Seltzer Water for Light, Fluffy Pancakes

Light, fluffy pancakes are the first thing that comes to our mind when we think about the perfect breakfast or brunch. And seltzer water is all you need to create this in your own kitchen! When the bubbles in seltzer water expand, pancakes rise and also get more tender. By just adding 1 1/3 cup of seltzer water is enough for amazingly soft pancakes!

Learn How to Read a Recipe

When we are trying a new recipe, it’s common for us to miss some steps or forget to some important ingredients. So, take your time to carefully read the recipe! Before getting started, be sure to fully understand each step and have all the needed ingredients on hand. You will reduce the risks of failing and save a whole lot of time and effort. While cooking, take notes on what worked or didn't work, so next time you’ll be able to whip up that recipe faster!


cooking tips

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Use Acidic Agents Helps to Keep Avocados from Turning Brown

A proven way to prevent the oxidation process on the surface of your creamy cut avocados or guacamole is to add some drops of lemon, lime or orange juice. In order get better results, leave the avocado seed in the remaining half. Or if you prefer, use a clear plastic wrap or airtight containers to keep avocados and guacamole green.


Fix Over Salted Dishes with Vinegar and Sugar

Over salting dishes is a mistake we tend to make when we are in a rush and when we are multitasking while cooking. This could happen to any of us -  even the most experienced chefs. Before you throw away your oversalted dish in the bin, try to ‘save’ it by balancing the flavors. You can do so one teaspoon each of apple cider vinegar and sugar, you’ll be amazed by the results!

cooking tips

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Preserve Fresh Vegetables in Ice Cube Trays

This tip has been popular for some time now and it’s very convenient if you want to have fresh food and ingredients all throughout the week. From chopped herb cubes to boost the flavor of rice, to roasted garlic cubes for homemade smashed potatoes, veggie smoothie starters for a refreshing summer or even infused water and cocktail cubes for a fun way to hydrate your body. Almost any type of food can be frozen in ice cube trays!


Prepare Mayonnaise with Two Ingredients

Preparing homemade mayo in 30 seconds is possible thanks to The View from Great Island’s super easy mayo recipe! All you need is one egg and a cup of mild oil. Mix them with an immersion blender and after 30 seconds your mayonnaise is ready to enjoy!


cooking tips

Image source: www.thepetitecook.com


Marinate Chicken with A Re-Sealable Bag

If you want to whip up chicken breast with tons of flavor, simply marinate them with your favorite spices in a re-sealable bag. You will need 8 hours to perfectly marinate the chicken breast, therefore the trick here is to prepare several re-sealable bags before going to bed or heading up to work. Your dinner will practically be ready by the time you get back home!


Cooking with Two Pans Will Make Your Life Easier

Remember the old saying ‘Two heads are better than one’? Well, it just so happens that cooking with two pans is better than one too! Take your time, it definitely takes practice to get used to cooking with more than one pan at a time. That said, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be much more productive in the kitchen! Also, you may want to keep in mind that roasting a carrot is not the same as roasting an eggplant or a steak, so pay attention to the time it takes for each ingredient to cook before trying this tip!


Thanks for checking out this post! Want to improve your cooking skills and travel at the same time? Be sure to check out the vast collection of awesome culinary escapades on BookCulinaryVacations.com! 

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