Some people are born chefs, while others evolve, and still others simply don’t like to cook. If you’re an aspiring chef or just looking to improve your culinary talents, here are some basic tips to improve the way you cook and the food you present.
As with almost anything in life, when you love what you do, it’s hardly work. When you realize the many benefits of cooking, it’s an easy thing to love. When you cook with others, you create bonds and memories. Plus, doing things for others always makes one feel great.
There are real psychological benefits that make cooking an enjoyable experience. Embracing the tasks involved, will make what you create, even more appreciable.
Start With the Best Ingredients
When you eat at home, you eat healthier. Research has found people who cook and eat their own foods at home, eat less carbohydrates, sugars, and fat than those who don’t. And even if you have some sweet guilty pleasures or enjoy a nice, fluffy stack of pancakes, you can still create heart-healthy dishes right at home.
Whether you’re doing something complex such as baking gourmet breads and cakes, or a simple Sunday brunch, your ingredients should be as fresh as possible. Not only will the food taste better, but your presentation will be better, too.
If you’ve ever left the house and had to come back because you forgot something, you know that extra legwork isn’t all that appealing. The same is to be said for following your favorite recipes.
Not only does it make everything easier in the process of cooking, but it also ensures you have all of the ingredients you need to create it.
This one seems obvious, but it isn’t always. Your oven, stove, fridge, microwave, sink, and other appliances can impact the quality of your foods. So, in addition to wiping down surfaces, make sure your appliances are properly cleaned and ready to be used.
If you’re unsure, here are things to look for:
- Baked on or caked on food spills in your oven or on your stove top can impact the smell and taste of foods. Make sure your oven is properly cleaned. The same goes for your microwave or convection oven. (Pro tip: Use lemons for fresh and effective cleaning).
- Toss spoiled or outdated foods from the fridge.
- Clean your stove vent to help with cooking odors.
- Rinse countertops and other surfaces, as well as dishes and utensils, thoroughly after washing to prevent soapy tastes and smells.
- Service your dishwasher and make sure the drain is clean to avoid odors on your dishes.
- Schedule routine maintenance for all of your appliances.
It’s much easier and more satisfying to cook in a clean, comfortable environment. Try to clean as you go, washing dishes when you finish using them so when it’s time to eat, you’ll just need to start the dishwasher.
Many proclaim their mothers (or grandmothers) were the best cooks of all, but even the best chefs started with experimentation. Family recipes are handed down as recipes that began one way, and – with a pinch of this and a dash of that – became something truly unique.
In the same way, don’t be afraid to venture outside of your comfort zone. Try some simple recipes for bread and gradually move on to biscuits, muffins, or cakes. Mix new flavors together and try out other cultural cuisines.
Try new kitchen gadgets and cooking supplies like a pasta machine or wok for some spicy Asian-inspired foods.
Cooking is a fantastic way to spend quality time nurturing yourself and/or those you love. And you don’t have to be a professional to get started. You just need the curiosity and willingness to try.