When you’re thinking about taking up a hobby, consider cooking. Cooking is often overlooked because you are probably doing so much of it, but the truth is that cooking can be a wonderful source of relaxation for the home chef, as well as a way to create and explore. Here are a few tips to help your cooking exploration.
Easy measuring cup clean up. Many baking recipes call for sticky ingredients such as butter, honey, syrup or peanut butter. Instead of having to wash out a gooey mess every time you need to reuse the measuring cup, spray the inside of the cup with non-stick cooking spray. The ingredients will slide right out and you can reuse the measuring cup right away!
As you cook your meal during the course of the night, make sure that you taste it at several different points. This will allow you to pinpoint exactly when it is done, so that you do not run the risk of overcooking it. Tasting your food is important to achieve the quality you desire.
If you are looking to save time for cooking dinners because of your busy schedule, being prepared beforehand can make all the difference. Having ingredients already prepared and measured out to be cooked, as well as having the meat thawed out can save you valuable time when it comes to making dinner for the family.
Beans stored for a longer period of time need to be checked for insect damage or mold. Instead of visually looking at each bean put them in a bowl of cold water. Use only the ones sinking to the bottom as those floating are either suffer from insect damage or mold.
If you plan on making an elaborate meal for dinner, prepare a few elements of the dish that can be refrigerated or left out the night before you want to cook. This eliminates stress and frenzy in the kitchen so you can focus on giving your family a meal worthy of the finest five-star restaurants.
Twice a year, you should buy all new spices. If the spices are too old, they are going to lose a good bit of their flavor. If you know you will not use the whole spice bottle, give some of it to someone you know.
How to ‘un-seize’ melted chocolate. If the chocolate you are melting suddenly gets lumpy or grainy, this means it has ‘seized’, and it will ruin a recipe. Remove the pan and add 1/2 to 1 tsp of shortening or cooking oil (not butter or margarine). Stir until the mixture becomes smooth again. To prevent seizing, make sure the pan is completely dry before trying to melt chocolate.
Save a little bit of your pasta water when making pasta sauce. Save about one-fourth of a cup of water after draining the pasta. When you are going to mix your pasta and sauce together, add some of the saved water. The pasta water contains starch, which will give your sauce a thick creaminess.
If you are deep frying, make sure to use tongs to add the food to the hot oil. If you submerge the food below the surface of the oil with the tongs for about five seconds before you “drop” it in, the outside of whatever you are deep frying is sealed. This prevents it from sticking to other food in the oil.
When you are planning to cook a big meal try prepping all of your foods the day before. This will help you save time and it will also be less mess to clean up after the big dinner. Chop all vegetables and cut up all your meat and store appropriately.
If you like to bake for the holidays and give home-baked gifts from the kitchen, consider packaging your goodies in any of the readily available, multiple-use plastic storage containers instead of holiday print metal tins. The recipient of your tasty treats will not only love their cookies, but will also love the very re-useable container your baked goods came in. Fancy tins are pretty, but often get tossed away because they are rarely air-tight and tend to rust after washing.
For a juicier turkey, soak it in brine for at least 12 hours before cooking. You can make a simple brine by combining ice water and sea salt. After seasoning the turkey, submerge it fully, cover, and leave to sit for 12-24 hours. Then, cook the turkey as usual. Not only does the turkey come out juicier, but it tends to have more flavor than un-brined turkeys.
Take these tips and use them in your dishes to make them come alive. Serve them to guests, bask in the compliments and then do it all over again. The wonderful thing about cooking as a hobby is that you can always recreate or create anew; you’ll always need something to eat!