February 20th 2012

Essential, but not obvious, cooking tips

Whether you’re new to the kitchen or dole out gourmet meals night after night, here are our top cooking tips for everyone.

Though some things in the kitchen might seem obvious (IE store raw meats in the refrigerator or freezer after you buy them from the store), some others might not.

And that’s where we come in.

Here are our not-so-ordinary cooking tips for the every day chef.

Though it’s something we already know, do as much prep work the night before especially if you have a busy day in front of you or are hosting a large dinner. Most vegetables can be pre-washed and cut, dry ingredients can be measured, and spice mixes can be combined.

Smaller items bake higher, so when you are baking mini-items, like small cookies or cupcakes, up the temperature and bake for a shorter time.

When you are adding oil to the saute pan, add it in a stream around the edges of the pan instead of the middle. That way when the oil reaches the middle and the ingredients being cooked, it’s already heated.

Since stoves give off light, heat, and humidity, store your spices in a cool, dark location, and not above your stove, which a lot of people tend to do for easy access.

A handy way to shave vegetables and zest in a salad is by using a coarse Microplane grater and shave them directly into the bowl.

When you are deep-frying, use long tongs to hold the piece of food and insert it slightly into the oil, then drop it in after about 5 seconds. This will help keep it from sticking to the other foods or the sides of the pot because it seals the outer exterior.

Whenever you make a large batch of vegetable, chicken, or beef stock, freeze the stock in plastic bags. That way it handy when you have a hankering for soup!

Instead of following the directions on the package for pasta, cook the pasta just for 2 minutes then add it to the pan with the sauce and cook for the rest of the way.

Working with garlic can make your hands pretty stinky, so when you are done, rub your hands on stainless steel (like your sink) before washing them to remove the garlic odor.

Sprinkle your cutting board with salt before you chop fresh herbs to help keep them in one place.

The night before your bake, take all your ingredients out of the freezer or refrigerator so that your baking ingredients are at room temperature.

The best way to add flavor to a corn dish is to cut the corn off of the cob, then use the back-side of the knife to scrape the cob to get the sweet milk from the kernels. Then add it to the dish as well.

When making any vegetable or meat broths or stocks, add parmesan cheese rinds for a deeper flavor.

Pretty obvious, but clean as you go.

To check whether your frying oil is hot enough, stick a wooden skewer in the oil and if it bubbles around the wood you are set to start frying.

Though flavor comes from all of the ingredients combined, don’t cop out on good oil or good wine. Both add a lot of flavor to your dishes.

If you are bringing a salad to a potluck or party, don’t dress the salad, even when you get there, unless it is essential. Let the folks dress it themselves; at buffet-style parties, it gets too soggy.

Though caramelized onions are best when cooked slow and low, save time by putting the onions in a dry nonstick saute pan on medium-high heat, which speeds up the caramelizing process.

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Andrew's Biography

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Andrew loves art and design, and pursues his studies in his final year at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He loves seeking out new artists and giving them their dues, and in his spare time, focuses on his own abstract sculpture.