When you’re thinking about taking up a hobby, consider cooking. Cooking is often overlooked because you are probably doing so much of it, but the truth is that cooking can be a wonderful source of relaxation for the home chef, as well as a way to create and explore. Here are a few tips to help your cooking exploration.
Remember, the smaller the item, the higher the baking temperature. Small cookies will bake on a higher temp than a full cake would. Make sure to double check your recipe to find out the exact temperature it needs to be. You don’t want to prepare a perfect item only to have it burn or be under cooked.
After removing corn from the cob, scrap the cob with the back of your knife. Doing this will extract the “milk” from it. Drizzle the “milk” over the corn to add extra flavor.
Ice water can save the color of your vegetables. Dull washed out vegetables do not look as appealing to eat. If you want bright and vibrant vegetables, then you should plunge them into ice water after blanching them. Vibrantly colored vegetables look much more appetizing in salads and pasta dishes.
Take care when storing chocolate for use in cooking. As a rule, only buy as much chocolate as you can use within a few months. Chocolate contains fat, and under the wrong conditions it can turn rancid. Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. A kitchen cupboard away from any heat sources is ideal. Keep the chocolate wrapped in foil or plastic and store it away from anything with a strong smell, as it absorbs odors easily.
Apples are widely used in recipes during fall and winter, but they will spoil fast if incorrectly stored. Dry warm air rots apples, so keep them cool in a basement or loosely wrapped in the fridge. If one of the apples in a bag begins spoiling, the rest will soon follow.
A coffee grinder isn’t just for coffee. A coffee grinder actually works just as well as a food processor for some jobs. This is especially true with small jobs when you don’t want the trouble of lugging out a huge processor and then having to wash all the parts. Nuts and peppercorns grind perfectly in a coffee grinder, even sugar if you need a quick substitute for powdered sugar in a recipe.
Keep track of ingredients when baking. Sometimes, when you are adding a lot of dry ingredients to your mixing bowl, it’s easy to lose track. An easy solution to this is to place each ingredient in a different part of the bowl. That way, every dry ingredient you add can be seen and counted.
A granite surface is great for thawing frozen foods, usually taking less than half of the time necessary for typical counter top thawing because granite absorbs the cold (and heat) of items placed on top of it so granite literally “sucks out” the cold from your frozen foods. Granite is also an amazing surface for pastry preparation when dusted with a little flour. If you can’t afford to redo your kitchen in granite, check out a granite dealer for scrap pieces or have a smaller piece cut and polished for a fraction of the cost of remodeling your kitchen.
Always continue to taste test all of your food as you cook them. Cooking a sauce, and you’re not sure if it needs more salt? Just taste it and you’ll know right away. Getting into a habit of testing all of your foods will keep you from accidentally over-spicing or under-spicing it.
This ensures that you have access to fresh fruit year-round. Since many fruits are not in season during certain parts of the year, doing this will allow you to enjoy them anytime.
When you are going to the butcher to get meats or fish, do not be scared to ask to smell the product before purchasing it. Sometimes the meat or fish is bad and the butcher does not even know it, which is why it is important for you to smell it.
Have you ever had to eat a cauliflower that was more off white then actually white? It can make people turn away from this wonderful vegetable. To keep that white color in your produce, add some milk to the water when cooking. This will not change the taste, just the look.
Avoid limiting yourself to white potatoes in your cooking. They are very high in starch and have the least amount of nutritional content of any of the potatoes. Try varieties that come in blue, red, yellow, and orange. You can substitute almost any root vegetable as your usual white potato.
Avoid overcooking pasta when you boil it. Overcooked pasta loses some of its important health benefits, as well as its flavor. When you overcook pasta, the noodles absorb too much water and become swollen and limp. It is better to slightly under-cook it to retain the best texture and flavor.
If you are making a recipe that contains pasta in a sauce, avoid it being too soggy by cooking the pasta few minutes less in water. Finish cooking it with the sauce. It will be the perfect consistency and not be the mushy starchy mess we all hate when eating pasta!
If you are preparing a recipe with an unfamiliar fruit or vegetable, enhance your skills as a chef by taking a moment to educate yourself about it. With a bit of homework, you will learn a lot of new things to do with a new kind of food. If you do your homework before you start cooking, it will be more fun.
Take these tips and use them in your dishes to make them come alive. Serve them to guests, bask in the compliments and then do it all over again. The wonderful thing about cooking as a hobby is that you can always recreate or create anew; you’ll always need something to eat!