I started out as a very picky eater. Breaded chicken sandwiches every single day were my mainstay. Then my husband, who is now my ex, made me all competitive by telling me I could never cook as well as his mother. Challenge accepted mofo!!
So I started cooking new things and buying cookbooks and had some successes and some miserable failures. To this day I still have failures and it's always a learning process. However I have come across some constants that will make your culinary life a lil easier.
- I know you love to cook and most likely use recipes as your source. Read them at least twice before cooking and if you have the time to get all of your ingredients out before hand then do it. It makes your cooking process more efficient. Putting them away as soon as you use them is helpful as well.
- While you are doing different steps through out the cooking process, season as you go. For example, add salt and pepper to the meat when you brown it. Add seasoning to the vegetables when you add them to the meat and then if a liquid is added season that too. Layers of flavors means that you don't have to adjust the end process.
- Taste, taste, taste. There is a reason they say "Never trust a skinny chef" As you are cooking you need to check that your flavors are correct so that you can adjust through the cooking process.
- It is best to under cook or under-season. This is why I told you that tasting is important. You can always add but you can never take away. And when I say under-cook, I mean that you can also add some more pan or oven time to your protein.You need to invest in a probe thermometer that is oven safe so you can temp your protein so that you don't end up with a chewy piece of silly putty.
- Don't be afraid to shop for off brands in the grocery store. You don't have to pay top dollar for quality ingredients.
- Make sure your meats are thawed properly and brought to room temperature before you cook them. It takes less time to cook and you get a nice sear.
- Never use water when making a soup or a braise. Use chicken or veg stock. Flavor layering is key and water has no flavor dammit!
- When using tomato paste or pesto and there is more left in the can after you use it, take a sheet pan and slap tablespoons full on it and freeze it and reserve it in a freezer safe bag for later.
There are more tips and tricks to come and I invite you to add your own.