Baking and cooking have become increasingly popular activities, especially during quarantine, with a pandemic hovering right above our heads. This has become the perfect time for amateurs to become experts, and for experts to become real-life master chefs. That being said, even the most proficient chef can make mistakes in the kitchen.
In fact, many mistakes are borne out of habit, like keeping tomatoes in the fridge or under-salting dishes. Everything from the ingredients you choose, storage, chopping, taste-testing, even washing ingredients can play a major role in your expertise and experience in the kitchen. Keeping this in mind, let's take a look at some common kitchen mistakes we can easily avoid and other tips from chefs that'll help get things cooking!
If you like your cookies with actual chocolate chips or chocolate chunks in them and not melted chocolate bits, just refrigerate your cookie dough after preparing it. This will ensure that the chocolate chips are cooled and stay relatively solid even after baking.
When grilling burger patties, it is almost instinctive to press down on the patties to make them cook faster. While some chefs have made a name with iconic “smashed” burger patties, it isn’t always the best method to use.
This is especially true when you’re making the patties on a grill since flattening the patty can end up releasing a lot of the juices that hold in all the juiciness and flavor. It can also make the outside of the patty cook faster than the inside which results in some less-than-ideal burgers.
It might seem like sharp knives would be more dangerous than dull knives, but the opposite is actually true. A sharp knife will enable you to chop your vegetables and meat with minimal effort.
Dull knives force you to put more pressure on the knife to cut through harder ingredients, which increases the chances of the knife slipping and cutting your hand or finger. Since kitchen knives always get dull over time, it’s always smart to keep a sharpening utensil on hand.
If you’re trying to create a marinade or sauce, it may seem like the easiest option is to toss in all the ingredients and cook them together. However, the order in which certain ingredients are mixed can make a difference in how they mix with the other ingredients.
Especially with baking, it’s important to keep the order in mind. If you get a recipe that involves sugar and butter, mix these two items together first until the mix is light and airy. Only then should you mix in the other ingredients to ensure the final dish maintains the texture you want.
After about an hour of toiling and sweating over a hot stove, there is a wonderful sense of satisfaction that comes from enjoying your culinary masterpiece. This is almost immediately followed by a sense of dread when you take a look at your sink full of dishes.
An easy fix is to wash dishes while you’re in the kitchen and still in the process of cooking. Most dishes afford you a little time in-between the cooking process when the food needs to simmer, boil, or cook through. This time can be used to get your kitchen looking clean before you sit down to enjoy your meal.
Though we are largely tempted to try out our own recipes, it’s better to follow an existing one. Following the recipe exactly may not always work out, and you may be tempted to change it up here and there to make it just the way you like. This makes weighing the ingredients even more important.
If you’re baking, keeping track of the weight of different ingredients can help you understand what quantities of which items gave you the result you wanted. You can then repeat the formula and keep each dish consistent every time you make it.
Everyone knows how important seasoning is to every dish, from a simple omelet to more complex recipes. But more seasoning doesn’t always mean more flavor. Sometimes flavors can mix to create less than ideal aftertastes, and of course, oversalting is the bane of all food.
Start with minimal amounts of salt and pepper and add until it’s just the way you want. Keep tasting your dish while it cooks and season accordingly. And never underestimate the importance of acidity in bringing out the taste of a dish. A hint of vinegar or lemon juice can do wonders.
Baking cakes at the last minute is always a recipe for disaster. Always ensure to bake your cake at least an hour before serving, especially if you want to add some frosting or icing on top. The logic is quite simple. Putting frosting on a still-hot freshly baked cake will make the topping melt, and your creamy cake will end up flooded with icing.
The cake has to be at least room temperature or ideally cold before adding the frosting. The same applies to cupcakes, pies, and any other baked goods.
Many recipes call for certain dry and powdered ingredients to be sifted through a sifter or a fine-mesh strainer, also called a sieve, before being mixed with the other ingredients. This can include measured amounts of sifted flour or sifted sugar. In some cases, the recipe may call for main ingredients like baking powder, salt, and flour to be sifted together into a bowl.
This can help ensure all the ingredients are separated and evenly distributed prior to mixing. In the case of powdered sugar, sifting is an important process as it keeps the larger clumps from ending up in your batter.
There’s a certain excitement that comes with putting something in the oven, a ticking clock with a promise of flavor at the end. So sometimes, the temptation arises to peek into the oven to see how your dish is cooking. Or perhaps you’re anxious and just don’t want to take the risk that it’ll overcook.
Try to avoid doing this as much as possible. Every time you do so, the temperature of your oven is reduced a little bit by the escaping hot air. A few times is okay, but too many will prolong the cooking time.
Be sure to share these tips with fellow cooks!