I can’t count the times I have heard the words “but I can’t cook!” and it’s really not hard to cook if you follow some basic rules. Whether you are making a quick omelet or something more exotic if you follow these cooking tips for beginners you will be making your own delicious meals in no time.
Fresh and quality
Always use the best ingredients when cooking at home, if you are lucky enough to have a Farmer’s Market near you then stock up when you can. If you are using spices and herbs in jars then make sure they are in date, and that goes for everything you are cooking with. These days you can order ready to make meals that are delivered to your door with the freshest ingredients and recipes. For beginner cooks you will soon be making exotic dishes like Zaatar Chicken and Rice Pilaf easily with no shopping lists to worry about.
Read the recipe before you cook!
That’s right study the recipe! These days I make up a lot of my own recipes like the one below (Asian Inspired Salmon Burger On Brioche), but when I do follow another recipe I study it and then I follow the instructions as I’m making the dish. Read the recipe thoroughly because it can be easy to miss instructions like marinating the dish prior to cooking.
Get as much prepping done before you start for example:
Place all the equipment you will require near you
Cut up any vegetables and dice meat before you start to cook your dish
Wash the vegetables
Place all your spices and sauces near you
I’ll never forget a girl I went to primary school with who got badly burnt by hot oil from the stove. It’s easy to have a boiling pot of water or hot oil tip off the stove so always place your handles to the side or back.
Keep a fire blanket or extinguisher near the kitchen so if oil burns or there is a problem you won’t be panicking looking for something to put it out with.
When using sharp knives curl your fingers in so you don’t risk cutting yourself.
Use a knife that is suitable to the food you are cutting and always keep your knives sharpened. Always use a stable surface when cutting.
It’s best to stay in the kitchen when you have something cooking on the stove top to prevent accidents so don’t get distracted and leave to do something else.
If your recipe needs one cup of flour then use a measuring cup to get the exact amount. Very experienced chefs may get away without measuring but beginners need to measure everything exactly as the recipe calls for.
There’s a reason the recipe says ‘heat the pan’
The reason is so that the moisture stays in your meat and doesn’t escape too early and making it dry not tender. Searing the meat holds in all the juices. Taking this a little further, always rest your meat before cutting it so the juices run into the centre of the meat rather than spilling on the plate.
I was once told by an Italian chef that you never add oil to your pasta you actually add salt! Bring the water to the boil before adding your pasta. And, you should not rinse the pasta either once it is cooked.
Never give up
We all make mistakes with cooking, and if you blow it just try again. Learn from your mistakes. Once you master the basics of cooking you will be able to make amazing dishes and who knows, maybe develop your own.