Along the way

Along the way in your cooking adventures you learn things, by reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows, or attending classes. You pick up on things that may or may not be common knowledge. Little tips or tricks that help you be a better cook. They are little cooking gems.  Knowing them let’s you take a whole new look on an old recipe that may not have worked as planned or just not at all.   It is often those little gems that can set you apart from someone making the same recipe.   They have helped me grow as a cook, and cannot wait to learn more.  In no specific order, here are a few of the questions I had, and the things I learned along the way in my adventures.

  1. What happened… Read the recipe entirely before you start cooking/baking.
  2. Why is the roast always over cooked when I put it in the oven for the hour suggested? If a recipe says cook for one hour, it’s just a suggestion.  Know what temperature you like your meat for medium, medium rare, or well done.  Around 15 min prior to the time is up on the recipe check the meat temperature in the thickest area with out touching bone or fat.  Meat should be removed when it is around 5-10 degrees to it’s cooking temperature to compensate for continued cooking while resting.
  3. How long should I rest the meat for before cutting it? Meat should rest for 1/2 as long as it took to cook.  Cover in foil and let it rest to stay warm.
  4. Why when I boil beans are they always tough and hard, never soft? Adding in salt to things with skins like beans while it’s cooking retards the skin making it tough. Add the salt at a later stage.
  5. Why do my cakes/cupcakes have air bubbles? If you get air pockets in your cake mix it’s because you are overmixing the batter and it is starting to form gluten which traps the air resulting in said pocket.  When making cakes or cupcakes, mix in the flour just until incorporated with your hand or stand mixer, and if needed use a wooden spoon or spatula to fold in any flour spots.
  6. Why does my melted chocolate have white/chalky edges. Ever melted chocolate and when it dried it was white along the edges and looked chalky?  You burnt the chocolate, probably because you used the microwave over using a double boiler.  If you are going to melt chocolate in a microwave, use the defrost setting.
  7. When do I add salt? Season to taste?  Why is it bland, I followed the recipe? Taste everything at each stage to alter. for the love of all that is good taste your food as you cook.  Almost every recipe you come across will say ‘season to taste’ this means salt and pepper.
  8. Why does the food keep sticking to the pan? If your food keeps sticking your stainless steel pan it was not hot enough before you added the oil/ingredient.  Do a water ball test, there are some great videos about testing pans for correct temperatures.  The water should float on the pan like mercury, sizzling or popping indicates too hot or not hot enough.
  9. Does Olive Oil have a shelf life? Yes, Olive Oil does have a shelf life.  It goes rancid and bitter you want to toss it 6-8 weeks after it has been opened.   Use smaller bottles if you don’t use enough to empty the bottle in that amount of time.
  10. After chopping herbs, why is the board green? When you chop or mince your herbs and your cutting board is green, guess what your herbs are now lacking? Flavor and freshness.  All that flavor that is in the board, basically you bleed out your herbs and the flavor.  Sharpen your knife prior to chopping herbs to avoid bruising and bleeding to get the most flavor out of fresh herbs.  You picked fresh herbs for a reason, don’t leave it all on the board.
  11. Vegetables in hot or cold water to boil? A great general rule I learned is if it grows under ground (root vegetables) add it to cold water and bring it to a boil.  If it’s above ground, add it to boiling water.

2 thoughts on “Along the way

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