Problem 1: Dry, rough meatballs
Solution: Add a few ice cubes
This chef’s tips is not very well-known, and it’s a shame, as adding ice to foods made of minced meat will make sure your meatballs or burgers remain soft and juicy after cooking.
Next time you want to prepare a burger, meatloaf or meatballs, just mix in a handful of crushed ice as the final step right before cooking, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the juicy results.
Problem 2: Rice too sticky
Solution: Fry it before cooking
There are different types of rice, and the round-grain varieties are usually used in risottos and sushi because they tend to become sticky due to a higher concentration of starches. If you happen to have only the round variety on hand, but you still want to prepare rice that falls apart instead of sticking together, it can be easily achieved.
All you have to do is swap your cooking pot for a frying pan, and fry the rice for a few minutes in the tiniest amount of oil or butter before cooking it. A guide that it’s time to add water and start cooking the rice is when it becomes more transparent and releases a pleasant aroma.
Also, don't forget to rinse your rice at least 3 times before cooking, this will wash away any rice flour from the surface of the grain, which can also make rice stickier.
Problem 3: Chicken breast too dry
Solution: Cook it with the bone attached
A dry and stringy chicken breast is the plight of every kitchen because it’s so easy to overcook chicken breast.
To avoid this mistake once and for all, just cook the chicken breast together with the bone it is attached to (like shown on the picture below). It doesn’t matter if you’re baking, grilling, steaming or boiling, this method just works!
Problem 4: Dry meatballs or meatloaf
Solution: Replace breadcrumbs with cooked quinoa
Another reason for meatballs turning out dry is that you're adding dry breadcrumbs to it, which suck out all the moisture from the minced meat. There are several ways of going around this situation, but my true and tested method is replacing the breadcrumbs with cooked quinoa.
The benefit of this method is that you will give a beautiful texture and juiciness to the meatballs. Apart from that, you will replace the less healthy wheat flour from the breadcrumbs with a wholesome grain that contains fiber and essential micronutrients. In terms of proportions, use as much quinoa as you would breadcrumbs in the meatball mixture.
Problem 5: Full fat mayo is too heavy
Solution: Use milk instead of eggs in the recipe
Mayo may not be the healthiest condiment on Earth, but it sure has its support team in the culinary world. For example, if you’re cutting down on fats, it may be a good idea to replace butter with homemade mayo, especially if you opt for the lighter version of the recipe with eggs replaced by milk.
Just take your favorite homemade mayo recipe and replace the eggs with milk. The proportions are as follows: for every egg you use, add half the amount of milk.
Problem 6: The color of the carrots fades in the cooking process
Solution: Peel the carrots before cooking
Even the most outstanding turkey dinner or pot roast can be ruined by muddy or gray-looking carrots. Carrots absorb the color of the meat when they are cooked together, and they easily lose their color in the cooking process.
The sad gray color can be avoided if you peel the carrots before cooking, as the discoloration usually starts from the skin.
Problem 7: Pastry doesn't turn out right
Solution: Pay attention to the temperature of the ingredients
It isn’t a coincidence that certain pastry recipes call for ice-cold ingredients, while others require room temperature ones. The temperature of the ingredients is generally linked to the texture of a given pastry.
The rule of thumb is as follows:
- Crumbly, crispy recipes, such as croissants, sugar cookies, and pie crusts call for cold ingredients.
- Soft and spongy recipes, such as muffins and bread require room temperature ingredients.
Problem 8: Whole chicken doesn’t cook through evenly
Solution: Bake it thighs and wings down (as seen on the picture)
The common problem while roasting a whole chicken is that the breast dries out while the thighs and wings turn out not crispy enough. Many chefs swear by the upside-down roasting method. They explain that by flipping the chicken, you're letting the juices go down to the breast and, at the same time, allowing the fattier wings and thighs to brown up.
This way, you're guaranteed to end up with a juicy interior and achieve that crispy crust just in the right spots.
Problem 9: Pizza takes too long to prepare
Solution: Increase the temperature and preheat ahead of time
Did you know that, in Italy, they rarely cook a pizza for more than 10 minutes? The main reason for that is that pizza is traditionally prepared in a stone oven outside at very high temperatures.
And though most people in other parts of the world don’t own one of those amazing ovens, you can still simulate the results by cranking up the heat on your oven to the maximum and preheating it for at least 20-30 minutes before cooking the pizza.
This way your pizza will be ready in 10-15 minutes and have that signature brown crust on top.
Problem 10: Uneven portions of cookies and other foods that require measuring out
Solution: Use an ice cream scoop instead of a spoon to measure out the portions
When preparing cookies, muffins, pancakes or meatballs, it is way more convenient to use an ice cream scoop instead of a spoon. Not only will this help you measure out the perfect amount of the mixture every time, but it will also significantly speed up the cooking process.
Ever since I saw a chef use one of those for cookies on a TV show, I do not part with my trusty ice cream scoop.