No matter where you are in life, there’s always something new to learn and always a reason to learn it. With cooking, there’s truly never a wrong time in one’s life to start learning. Whether you’re cooking for your mom and dad on their anniversary, you want to feed yourself in your first apartment or your first time at college, or maybe you’ve finally bought your first house and want to make good-use of that kitchen; no matter what stage you’re at in life, knowing how to cook is never a bad thing. And, for those of you who already know how to cook, it can be good to get a refresher, and maybe even learn something new along the way.
Learning how to cook is like learning any other skill. It takes practice, experimentation, trial and error, and at times, a little improvisation. The longer you spend cooking and experimenting with different dishes, the more fine-tuned your craft will become. You’ll learn which recipes you love and add a little personal twist to them, you’ll find out what you like to cook with, and you might even discover some brand new flavors along the way.
Using New Pots and Pans
An easy starting point that can help any chef, no matter their level of expertise, is getting a new pot and pan set. This seems simple, but it can make a world of difference. That’s not only because the age and stature of a pot and pan set can impact its current functionality, but also because of a leap in technology regarding the manufacturing of pots and pans.
For example, when non-stick technology first hit the market it almost immediately attracted a poor reputation to itself. This was mainly because of the manufacturing process which included the same chemicals that make Teflon. Though these chemicals were added in minute levels to create the non-stick surface, the potential harm that these chemicals represented was enough to scare off a large majority of the consumer market. However, it didn’t take long for the industry to bounce back. Innovations in the field have created new-aged technology that allows for the creation of non-stick surfaces that are free of any potentially harmful chemicals.
Beyond an improvement in non-stick technology, there are other benefits to using new pots and pans that are designed for the modern home-chef. This cookware is considered to be hybrid because of the way that it utilizes multiple designs in concert to create an elegant home-cooking-experience.
New cookware also lowers the chance that you’re using warped pots and pans which heat unevenly. A new pot and pan guarantees an even heat distribution so you can get your meal to the perfect temperature.
Prep Everything First
Although it might sound a little bit on the basic side of things, prep work is still some of the most important work to be done in the kitchen. Rather than waiting until it’s time to add your chopped veggies into the mix of things to actually get them chopped, having them ready beforehand will keep you cooking right on schedule. This means taking the time to go through your ingredient list, and doing everything you can before beginning to cook to make the process flow smoothly. Chopping veggies, onions, garlic, and other add-ins and having your salts and seasonings blended and measured so they’re ready to be added-in at a moment's notice will keep things moving along without a stumble in your step.
Having all of your ingredients laid out, measured, and prepped will also help you focus on the flavor of your meal.
Season As You Go
There are two halves to this rule. When it comes to meat, seasoning can happen before the cooking process even begins. This should include salt, and lots of it, especially if you’re cooking steak. Because steak is typically such a thick cut of meat you’ll likely want to use more salt than you even think necessary.
However, when it comes time to bring things together, or in the case of sauces, and soups as well, seasoning as you go is part of the art. Don’t be afraid to taste your food as you’re cooking. This will help you find the right level of seasoning to tie the dish together, without being overpowering.
Secrets of a Lemon
Going back to salt for a moment, it’s often regarded as the ‘little something extra’ that every dish needs. While salt is essential in most cooking, and very helpful in seasoning, there’s another trick that can add a whole layer of taste to almost any dish.
A few drops of lemon juice.
While this sounds out of left field, sometimes the missing taste that ties a neat bow around the flavor of the dish is some acidity. A few drops of lemon juice can add just that, bringing the whole meal together without involving any extra sodium.