Many people think of cooking as a mysterious gift that only some people have. However, there are easy ways for those who’ve never had much success in the kitchen to raise their cooking game. Following are five of them.
Use Seasonal Ingredients
Seasonal ingredients make everything taste better. Because they are fresh, they are more nutritious than food produced out of season. Cooking with locally grown, seasonal ingredients is also better for the environment. As an added bonus, you will be supporting your local economy by buying from farmers in your community. Visit a nearby farmers market to purchase seasonal ingredients and to find inspiration on how to prepare them in the home kitchen.
Buy the Best Cookware You Can Afford
It’s difficult to produce a good meal using poor-quality cookware. Good cookware manages heat better. It’s also important to use the right pan for the right job. Don’t use a sauce pan when you should be using a sauté pan. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get good, solid cookware. Buy a few basic pieces such as a saucepan, a stock pot, and a sauté pan and build from there. Avoid buying cookware collections unless you’re sure you’ll use every piece. Consider buying restaurant-grade cookware for best results.
Plan Your Meals
Busy people sometimes neglect to plan their meals in advance. However, making dining decisions on the spur-of-the-moment is a recipe for disaster. Only extremely experienced cooks can consistently wing it with good results. Planning your meals lets you carve out enough time in your schedule for the dishes you have in mind and shop for the proper ingredients. Don’t forget to plan to set an attractive table and choose an appropriate beverage. Even the best tasting food is better when paired with the right wine and served on a well-set table.
Use Fresh Spices and Herbs
Many home cooks have spices in their cupboards that are several years old. However, this may cause some herbs and spices to lose their distinct flavor. Dried herbs and spices that have been allowed to sit for years may also take on a dusty flavor. The exception is when you’re making a soup or stew that will simmer on the stove for hours. After 15 or 20 minutes, the volatile oils in fresh herbs will be thoroughly dissolved by the heat of the cooking process.
One of the best things any cook can do is to organize their ingredients prior to starting the cooking process. Make sure that all the ingredients are minced, sliced, and diced before you even turn on the stove and that the cooking utensils you plan to use are close at hand. This way, you won’t risk burning the steak while scrambling for salad ingredients. This approach also eliminates the possibility of suddenly discovering during the middle of making a meal that you don’t have all the necessary ingredients.