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Tips & Shortcuts
The following are some Tips & Shortcuts.
Basic Cooking for Beginners
are learning to cook it is important that everyone started at the beginning
originally. I do not know of a single person who was born with a wooden cooking
spoon and ready to go. There is a lot of learning that must be done in order to
become a prolific cook and then there is always room for improvement. Not only
do you need to begin with the basics when it comes to cooking but you almost
need to begin again when learning to cook a new cuisine such as Chinese, Thai,
or Indian food.
The first thing that you need to learn is what the different terminology you
will find in recipes actually means. There are many new and sometimes foreign
sounding terms that you will find in common recipes. These terms can mean the
difference in recipe success or failure. You should be able to find a good
section in any inclusive cookbook that explains the different definitions for
unfamiliar terminology. If you aren’t absolutely certain what is meant by
“folding in the eggs” it is in your best interests to look it up.
Add a little zest.
When a recipe calls for a “zest” of a citrus fruit, it’s referring to the
colorful outer part of the skin, not the inner white part, which is known as the
pith. The zest contains all of the aromatic citrus oils and provides a hint of
citrus tang to the recipe. A simple method of obtaining a fine zest is by
rubbing the fruit against the smallest holes of a cheese grater.
Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Good cooks are never afraid to deviate from a recipe and add their own flair.
Whenever you make a substitution or addition be sure to make a note on the
recipe so you remember next time whether you liked the change or not.
Salted butter vs. unsalted
Butter is available both with and without salt. The salt is added for extra
flavor and to help preserve it so it has a longer shelf life. The problem is
that sometimes the salt in butter can be more than a recipe needs. Choosing
unsalted butter gives you more control over how much salt your dish contains. If
you only have salted butter, the best thing to do is omit approximately ¼
teaspoon of salt per ½ cup (one stick) of butter used in the recipe.
Use your kitchen scissors.
Right now you probably only use your kitchen scissors for opening packaging and
bags of milk. But next time you’re trimming fat from a roast, opening pitas or
cutting chicken into strips, consider using your scissors! Chefs use them all
the time for cutting meats and other food items. It’s probably best to have a
pair that are designated as food scissors only. And be sure you clean them very
well after each use because they do have crevices where bacteria can hide.
Keep your recipes organized.
Nothing is more frustrating when you’re ready to start cooking then not being
able to find your recipe. Keep things organized by finding a system for filing
your recipes that you can keep close at hand in the kitchen. A great option is
to buy one of those photo albums where you peel back a plastic sheet and
underneath is a sticky surface. This makes recipes easy to find and at any time
you can remove or replace them!
Stop foods from sticking to
To keep food from sticking to the bottom of your pans, try to avoid ever putting
cold foods into a hot pan. Also, don’t put food into a pan that is not perfectly
clean, otherwise the resulting build up could lead to burned food.
Stop water from boiling over.
To keep pans from boiling over when cooking, add a thin layer of butter around
the rim of the pan. This works well for rice, pasta and potatoes.
Make sure the oil is hot before frying foods.
Although they’re not the healthiest option, fried foods sure do taste good. The
key to perfect frying is to get the oil hot before you put the food in. (Not so
hot that it is smoking though – be careful!) If you don’t get the oil hot, your
food will absorb too much oil and taste greasy. To test whether the oil is hot
enough for frying, throw in a drop of water or even a small piece of what you’re
cooking. If it bubbles rapidly then you know it’s ready.
Avoid oozing egg whites.
Do your eggs ooze out some of their whites when you boil them? This is because
every egg contains an air pocket at the larger, rounded end. When placed in
simmering water the air pocket expands and creates a higher atmospheric pressure
within the egg than in the water. The fragile shell cracks from the built-up
pressure. Avoid this problem in the future by removing eggs from the
refrigerator and piercing the larger end with a pin. This will give the air a
hole to escape through!
Cut breads and cakes
perfectly every time.
It may sound strange but dental floss can be used to slice bread and cakes for a
perfect slice every time. This is also the easiest way to cut a layer cake in
half so you can add a filling. For perfect results freeze the cake before
Get more juice from citrus
When a recipe calls for the juice of lemons, limes or oranges, make sure you get
every last drop by first rolling the fruit under your palm on a hard surface.
Press down as hard as you can as you roll. Then simply slice it in half and
squeeze. You’ll find you get significantly more juice to add lots of flavor to
Easily grate cheese.
Make grating cheese a snap by tossing your cheese into
the freezer for an hour before shredding. This will make the cheese hard enough
to grate without compromising the taste or texture.
Make tastier oatmeal cookies and muffins.
different flavor to your oatmeal cookies and muffins by baking oatmeal in a
shallow pan for about ten minutes before adding it to the mix. Be sure it does
not get too brown or it will take on a bitter taste.