Learning-by-doing: Cooking Tips and Tricks (1)
I’ve always kind of enjoyed cooking and baking. Well, unless it’s only for myself, I’m way too lazy to get pots and dishes dirty for just one person.
Now that the pandemic has been going on for nearly two years, I’ve had lots of time to perfect my craft. I’m not a Michelin star chef by any means, but give me a couple of ingredients and I can probably whip up a meal off the top of my head so I’m pretty happy with the progress!
My favourite part about cooking is being able to experiment with various ingredients and learn as I’m going and trying new things. Cooked the meat for too long? No problem, you’ll know better next time. Garlic cooks faster than onions? Next time we probably shouldn’t put it in the pan first…
So in honour of my learning curve, here are five totally random, general and/or oddly specific things that I’ve learned and that I wish I knew before I cooked certain dishes. I will be adding more things to this list in future parts as I come across new things in my cooking adventures or remember past lessons!
GET USED TO MULTITASKING. Seriously. I cannot stress this enough. I used to take so long to cook and clean because not only was I incredibly slow at everything I did, but I was completely inefficient. Waiting for the potatoes to boil? Great, time to chop to veggies for your salad. Rice cooker has 5 more minutes until it’s done? Perfect, start plating your other dishes.
When cooking new things, make small portions on your first attempt. This might seem obvious to some, but it sure wasn’t to me. You might not like how the recipe comes out, or you might not enjoy the taste of a certain ingredient or spice, so many things can happen especially when you start trying out more complex dishes. Don’t even get me started on the huge batch of chocolate cake cream I wasted…
When using yeast to bake bread or sweets, it’s always good to activate it in a separate bowl with some warm water (or milk, depending on your recipe) and a bit of sugar. Mix it all until homogenous and let it sit in the bowl for 5-10min before adding to your main bowl.
When making mashed potatoes, adding a bit of warm milk as you’re mashing, as well as butter, will smoothen out the texture and get rid of any lumps.
Sour cream and yoghurt are almost interchangeable and can be replaced at about a 1:1 ratio if you have a nice plain Greek yoghurt. Who would’ve thought?