You may whip it up in the kitchen quite nicely. You may be a 5-star rated chef. You may be the best cook this side of the Mississippi. But every good chef should know a few culinary basics to help make cooking fast, fun and even more delicious!
Before you start cooking have everything you need already out in front of you. Even prepare your herbs and vegetables beforehand. Place everything in separate bowls. The last thing you need is for something to burn while you are scrambling to find the next ingredient.
Make incisions in your vegetables without cutting all the way through when dicing or mincing. For example, when mincing a garlic clove. Cut your clove lengthwise with a small cutting knife without piercing all the way through. The end should be held together after the incisions are made. Similar to a flower bouquet. Once the lengthwise cuts are made, slice your clove widthwise. This cuts down the time it takes to mince garlic.
Always use fresh herbs and ingredients in your recipes. This enhances the taste of your meal. Many herbs grow practically all year around especially when grown indoors. They are easy to grow. You will want to have your own fresh herbs handy in an herb garden. Fresh vegetables require a little more gardening work but are possible to have in your home garden. If you don’t have a yard to plant vegetables or herbs, you can use pots. If you don’t have the time to garden, find a local farmers market and buy fresh from there.
Know which substitutes you can use when making a meal. Sometimes we think we have something when we don’t or forget an ingredient at the grocery store. Don’t just give up on a recipe if you don’t have the ingredient handy. Research substitutes or use your knowledge from other cooking experiences to provide you with a solution. For example, if you are making a sauce in a pan and you do not have all-purpose flour to thicken it. You can substitute cornstarch or turmeric to thicken your space.
One thing a good cook will always tell you is that once the meal is done, they have less of an appetite. The reason is because a good cook always tastes their meal as they cook it. Your tastebuds are the best indicator of how delicious a meal is. If you like it, they will. Taste test during different stages of the meal to see what a dish needs and when it is almost ready to serve.
There are cooking staples every kitchen should have stocked. The most often used ingredient in recipes is eggs. Always have eggs available. Other basic ingredients include herbs (fresh or dried), flour, salt, pepper, milk (or alternate dairy substitute).
To know if eggs are hard-boiled, gently spin them on the counter. If they spin easily, then they are hard-boiled. If they wobble around, they are not. So don’t break them open! To know if your spaghetti is “al dente,” or ready to serve, toss a strand against the kitchen wall. If it sticks, it is ready! If your spaghetti falls to the ground, give it a few minutes longer.
These culinary basics will help you prepare faster and better tasting meals. They are useful for everyday meals to cuisine with more steps involved. You will find the more you know in the kitchen, the more fun you have when trying new dishes or coming up with your own!