Cooking is incredibly satisfying. It’s also a skill you can learn and improve with time and practice. Cooking is like any other skill, though, in that you need to know some tricks to get good at it. You need to know the basics and hone your skills before moving on to more complex creations in the kitchen.
This post looks at eight ways to help you cook like a pro. You’ll impress family and friends with your cooking skills and enjoy the process of cooking more.
Prep your ingredients
If you’re going to cook, you need to know your ingredients. Get the right tools and ingredients before you start cooking to avoid any mishaps. The fewer things that go wrong in the kitchen, the more likely it is that you’ll get good at cooking.
Here are some tips for preparing your ingredients:
- Get everything ready to hand before you start to make anything, this means utensils, kitchenware and ingredients too.
- Start with a list of what needs to be ready first, and then work outwards from there as you prep your ingredients.
- If a recipe calls for whole milk, buy full cream milk but avoid skimmed milk. Skimmed milk has been processed more than whole milk, which means it will curdle when boiled or used in a sauce.
- Use fresh herbs and spices instead of pre-ground spices. You want the flavour to be strong with these types of seasonings—you don’t want them to be diluted by ground spices. They’ll also last longer this way too!
- To keep vegetables fresher for longer, put them into an ice water bath before storing them in a fridge or freezer. This helps vegetables retain their nutrients better and gives them natural protection from oxidation caused by light exposure.
Use a timer for safety
Always have a timer handy as there is nothing worse than overcooking meat, or worse still, undercooking it. You’ll never be able to control the heat of your stove if you don’t know how long something should take to cook, so use a timer for safety.
If you want to get fancy, use timers to give you a range of cooking times. Most cooking timers will go up to 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Invest in a good set of knives
A good set of knives is an investment that will last you for years to come. Choosing a high-quality collection of knives will make cooking more enjoyable, as you’ll know that your equipment is guaranteed to be sharp and ready for use. They’re also easy to clean and maintain, meaning less hassle and less time spent on cleaning up after dinner.
When it comes to choosing a knife, there are many factors that you should consider before purchasing a knife set. For example, knife type (corded vs cordless), blade shape, handle material, and size are all critical considerations. You should get a set with the features that work best for your needs.
If you’re just starting out cooking, stick with an inexpensive starter kit until you get comfortable with the process and learn which tools you need most often. Once you do get the hang of things, invest in a higher quality set of knives so that they can last longer without getting rusty or damaged from constant use.
Seasoning and sauces are a must
Seasoning is essential for cooking. It tells the food what it should taste like and how to cook. When you don’t season properly, your food can be bland or overly salty.
Sauces are also crucial in dishes because they add flavour and moisture to the dish without adding extra calories. Everyone can also use them to get complex flavours in a dish without adding a lot of ingredients or ingredients that have been cooked separately.
When you know seasoning, sauces, and how they work with your palate, you’ll see just how easy cooking can be.
Know how to read a recipe
One of the most important things you can do to improve your cooking skills is to read recipes. It’s always wise to start with a recipe you’re familiar with, but don’t be afraid to try new recipes and experiment.
There are so many different types of recipes; it can be intimidating when you look at one for the first time. When you’re reading a recipe, keep these tips in mind:
- Read the entire list of ingredients before trying anything
- Start with easy recipes and build up from there
- Look for tested and true methods for success
- Be realistic about what you’ll be able to accomplish on your first try
Use the freshest ingredients
The freshest ingredients make the best dishes. This goes for both fresh and long-life ingredients such as Balsamic Vinegar. If you’re not sure if your vegetables are fresh, check the expiration date on the package or how long it has been since you opened it. Use only the best quality you can afford for the best results too.
Fresh ingredients are more flavourful and have more nutrients than older ones. The same goes for meat and seafood, which is why frozen and fresh meats should be used interchangeably when cooking. Make sure that your eggs are fresh as well– they should have no cracks or scratches in their shells.
You can tell how fresh your produce is by checking it out under a bright light. In particular, look at the leaves of a celery stalk to see if they’re crisp or wrinkled. Also, check the colour of a tomato– an overripe one will be overly green or spotted with brown spots, while a ripe one will be redder and brighter in colour.
Cooking equipment is everything
You’ll need the right equipment for cooking. Without these tools, you won’t achieve the same level of success in the kitchen.
A good chef’s knife is one of the most essential tools a cook needs. It should be at least 10 inches long and have a sharp blade that’s thin enough so it won’t break down your food.
You’ll also need cutting boards, whisks, pots, pans, knives, spoons or ladles, and measuring cups/spoons. These items will help you make recipes easier to prepare and ensure that you don’t waste any ingredients.
The list doesn’t end there! You’ll also need storage containers designed specifically for food prep and bowls to mix wet ingredients like eggs or batters with dry ingredients like flour or sugar.
Clean as you go
The number one rule for cooking is to clean as you go, which applies to every step of the process. If you have dirty hands, you’re going to have greasy fingers, which will make your dough sticky or your sauce runny.
One good way to keep your hands clean while cooking is to use a kitchen towel. After each step, wipe down the surface before you carry it. Another option is using disposable gloves that you can toss after each use.
Does this mean you should never get dirty? Of course not! You just need to be mindful of how you are preparing your meals and the residue left on surfaces, as this can affect the overall outcome of your dishes.
In reality, when it comes to improving your cooking, there are many skills out there that can be useful. However, by getting the basics right and knowing where to start, you will have an excellent foundation to take on tricker meals, new recipes and elevate your skills.