Learn to Cook any Meal with Ease
Are you confident in the kitchen? Whether it is from lack of experience, intimidation or worry about having enough time, many people don’t feel cooking is one of their strongest skills.
After all, we have a lot of demands in our life that seem to be more important than applying ourselves to learning cooking.
However, with a measured, simple approach, you can be learn to dominate in your home kitchen and wow your friends and family.
Here are some of the ways to learn cooking kudos.
- Know Your Recipes
You may not be the type of cook who regularly uses recipes, but when you are trying to gain confidence and skill, they really are invaluable.
Even if you plan to commit them to memory eventually, starting out with a written guide will not only provide instruction, it will also allow you to review steps you may have struggled with or skipped if something goes wrong.
Here are some other ways to drill down on recipes.
- Read them closely:
Take the time to read a recipe several times, taking note of the work flow and treatment of ingredients. If there is something in the list that you are unfamiliar with, learn about it and its taste profile.
- Note special equipment:
If the recipe indicates you need a tool you don’t have or don’t recognize, make the investment and purchase one. You likely will need it in the future.
- Research techniques:
Do you really know how to sear or saute? You might have a vague notion of what these terms mean, but if you strive to be mastering cooking, do the research.
- Plan your time:
Most recipes tell you how long preparation will take. Choose recipes that are realistic for your time frame.
- Be a Smart Shopper
When it comes time to hit the grocery store, you need to be prepared. Nothing is more frustrating than getting home to find you forgot to buy something.
Use these guidelines for making the most of your grocery shopping excursion.
- Long-term buying:
Plan out your healthy meals for a week and purchase whatever you need for those dishes. If you know you have what you need when you start a recipe, your confidence will be higher.
- Shop by aisle:
If you know your store well, organize your list by aisle. This will make your trip shorter while preventing you roaming the rows and putting tempting extras in your cart.
- Take you recipes:
You may have listed “cumin” on your shopping list, but do you need a large amount or just a little? If you take the recipe to the store with you, you can refresh your memory on quantities.
- Pantry Basics
If you keep a reasonably well-stocked pantry, you won’t have to worry about forgetting something at the market.
Here’s how to maintain a solid pantry.
- Keep it stocked:
Keep a dry erase board on the door of the pantry, and when you use to last bit of an ingredient, write it on the board for your shopping list.
- Keep it fresh:
It can be easy to keep using those bay leaves you bought seven years ago, but you won’t get the proper flavor out of them.
When you buy dried herbs and spices, write the date you bought them in marker on the container. Replace them regularly.
- Stock the staples:
Don’t worry about stocking items you don’t use often. You can get those during your weekly shopping trips. Instead, just focus on the things you use every day or every week.
- Explore flavors
Now that you’re ready to get started mastering cooking, don’t be shy. There doubtless are many flavors and ingredients you’ve never tried before, and now is the time to explore. Here’s how to try new things with confidence.
- Don’t be afraid:
There’s a world of herbs and spices out there you’ve never tried. Toasted curry? Turmeric? Rose water? Taste any unusual ingredient by itself and note its qualities.
Again, research can be your friend when it comes to gaining confidence.
- Don’t be hamstrung:
The traditional meal in the United States includes some sort of meat, but it doesn’t have to.
Be adventurous with alternate proteins and all sorts of vegetables, and you will be amazed how your repertoire grows.
- Heat it up:
If you can handle spiciness in your dishes, by all means bring it on. The flavors in your dishes can be deepened by a hint of heat.
- Kitchen Zen
A lot of a home chef’s confidence in learning cooking is about mindset.
If you are determined to improve your skills and expand your palate, going into the kitchen with the right attitude is key.
Keep these tips in mind.
- Organize you space:
Getting all the ingredients you will need for a recipe prepared and on hand will take time, but those minutes will be gained back when you start cooking.
- Calm you brain:
Be mindful of what you are doing in the kitchen. Part of mastering cooking is learning what the dough looks like when it has the right amount of flour or how to get the perfect char on roasted meats.
- Be patient:
Certain foods take a while. Meats have to rest. Bread has to rise.
- No limits:
Never be afraid to try new ingredients, dishes or techniques. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, at least you will be exploring.
How to Use Cooking Oils
When it comes to sautéing your favorite veggies or frying up some succulent shrimp, choosing the right cooking oil for the job is an important task.
Finding the perfect oil that is healthy and will remain healthy as you use it to cook your tasty dinner.
The goal of this guide is to look at the stability of different types of cooking oil, at high and low heat, and assessing its strengths, all in an effort to teach how to use cooking oils.
It’s important to note the “smoke points” of the oils, or, the temperatures at which point the oils “break down”—where they stop cooking your food and begin to burn instead.
Butter is a classic spread for cooking. Made from cow’s milk, real butter is a nutritious and vitamin-rich substance and proves great for baking.
Try not to do too much heavy frying with it, as it breaks down at higher temperatures, but it’s perfect for frying vegetables or eggs.
When sautéing at higher temperatures, its often common to combine butter with other oils, like canola, to prevent over-saturating its smoke point.
- Olive Oil:
This staple of Mediterranean diets is made from pressing whole olives.
Made by pressing, and not with heat or chemicals, extra virgin olive oil retains a rich and silky flavor.
Use extra virgin olive oil for salad dressing, drizzling on fish or dipping bread into. Refined olive oil is excellent for sautéing, but not for frying or deep-frying.
When it comes to how to use cooking oils, olive oil is an excellent start.
- Coconut Oil:
Made from the sweet meat of a coconut, this oil is great for baking, sautéing or crafting frosting.
Stay away from using coconut oil for deep-frying or dressings, but it’s a great butter replacement for baking. Its inherent sweet quality can really kick your sweet treats up a notch.
Coconut oil stores for months before becoming rancid and contains Lauric Acid, a fatty acid that can improve pathogens.
- Canola Oil:
With a neutral flavor and high smoke point, canola oil is low in saturated fat and great for almost any cooking or dressing you need it for.
Made from canola plant seeds, use canola oil for sizzling, sautéing, frying or simmering every dish your mind can think of.
Stay away from drizzling where flavor is important, as canola oil has a detached and partisan taste.
However, this will allow the natural flavor to come through from whatever veggies or meats you’re cooking.
- Peanut Oil:
Peanut oil has a fairly mild flavor but an incredibly high smoke point. This means it’s especially good for browning, as well as grilling, sautéing, roasting, or simmering.
It’s also a classic favorite when it comes to deep- or pan-frying.
Stay away from baking with peanut oil, or cooking anything that you want a neutral flavor for. For neutral, think canola oil.
Before choosing your oil, make sure you know what type of cooking you want to do and what you’ll be cooking. For baking, butter and coconut oil will do the trick.
For high-temperature, intense frying, peanut oil is the go-to.
Olive oil and canola oil will work wonders for sautéing or for salad dressings.
Be mindful of the smoke point as well—you don’t want your oils breaking down on you mid-cook.
Now that you know how to use cooking oils, feel free to put your tricks to the test!
Learn to Cook with the Right Spices to Make Great Meals
Home cooking has many benefits, including both healthfulness and affordability. Adding spices wisely can elevate your home-cooked meal and make it taste amazing. When you learn how to use the right spices in your meals, you will be astonished at how easy it can be to create good food.
The first step in choosing the correct spice is to think which flavors will complement and enhance your dish. To highlight sweetness, choose floral, sweet flavors such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom.
These spices have no added sugars, but they enhance the sweet flavor that is already there.
These spices are widely used in baking as well as in fruity dishes or sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Savory dishes can benefit from a wide range of herbs and spices. Herbs include leaves and stems of plants like basil, rosemary, thyme, mint and dill.
You can buy these fresh or dry. Buying fresh herbs will give you stronger flavor, and you can store them in the refrigerator for a few days.
Dried herbs come in small packages and can be used for up to six months.
Herbs are a versatile component that can be used to complement a range of flavors. Sprinkle some thyme on baked chicken or fish, add a little chopped rosemary to shortbread cookie dough before baking, or toss sliced tomatoes with basil and olive oil to make refreshing salad.
Spices that are made from fruits and seeds are available as a ground powder or as whole dried seeds or pods.
Buying them already ground adds convenience but detracts from freshness.
To get the best flavor from your spices, buy whole pods or seeds, toast them for a couple of minutes in a dry pan, then grind them yourself using an electric coffee or spice grinder.
Savory, earthy spices like cumin and turmeric have strong flavor profiles.
They are a great addition to hearty, substantial dishes. Ingredients like paprika and cumin are often used to make a spice rub for beef or lamb roasts.
Hot, spicy ingredients are made from plants such as hot pepper fruits and seeds or ginger root.
These should be used cautiously so as not to overwhelm the other flavors of the dish. How much hotness works for you is also dependent on your personal tolerance.
Spices can also be used to bring in a contrasting note to the main flavor of your dish or to create a combination.
A dash of white pepper added to a sweet dish can taste great.
Some sweetness added to a savory dish can introduce a milder note and bring out hidden flavors. Think about the qualities of the food you are making, and whether you want to mask aspects of it or enhance them.
Bland foods like chicken breast can benefit from a kicky spice blend, while more delicate foods like fresh vegetables should not be overwhelmed with too much addition.
Spices are available in a huge range of flavors and, used correctly, can transform any dish with just a pinch. Learning how to use the right spices to in your meals will help you create amazing food with minimal effort.