Expert chefs have had many years of training and experience to get their food looking and tasting great. But it doesnâ€™t take years to perfect the small details that will get you excited about cooking. Try these tricks, and your meals can go from bland to fabulous starting today!
101 Tips and Techniques for Cooking like a Chef 31-40
31. Use wine to add a unique flavor to dishes. Wine is another way of flavoring your dishes, just like herbs and spices. There are really no rules except those dictated by your own taste. Generally, the kind of wine to use in a dish is the kind you would most enjoy drinking with it. White wines are usually served with fish and white meats, and red wines with dark meats. Donâ€™t worry about the finished dish containing alcohol; wine loses its alcohol when simmered long enough so no trace of alcohol remains. An easy way to create a sauce is to deglaze your pan using wine. If needed, thicken with a little cornstarch.
32. Make your own salad dressings. Store bought salad dressings are loaded with extra calories and preservatives. And once opened they often go bad long before theyâ€™re used up. A great alternative is to make your own dressings. For a tasty vinaigrette, mix Â¾ cup of oil with Â¼ cup of vinegar and season with salt, pepper and even some Dijon mustard. For other variations try adding honey, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, maple syrup, garlic or lime juice. With a little experimentation youâ€™ll be surprised how many great tastes you can create!
33. Stock, Broth, Bouillon and ConsommÃ©.Â In recipes calling for chicken or beef stock, you can use homemade or canned stock prepared from purchased cubes or powdered bases. (Be sure to watch the amount of salt you later add to your recipe though because some cubes and powdered bases are very salty). Stock, broth and bouillon are basically the same â€“ the clear liquid produced when meat, bones and vegetables are simmered in water to extract flavor and then strained. Stock can be made from meat, poultry, fish or vegetables. ConsommÃ© is stronger than bouillon; it is stock enriched with more meat and vegetables and then concentrated and clarified. Now you know!
34. Quickly and easily thicken gravy. Once the roast or turkey is cooked, thereâ€™s always the task of making the gravy and waiting while it thickens. Luckily, there is a quicker way! Thicken your gravy by adding a tablespoon of instant mashed potatoes. Start there, and add more if needed until itâ€™s the right consistency.
35. Dried herbs versus fresh ones. Fresh herbs are best for flavor, but if unavailable, use about one-third as much dried. If a recipe doesnâ€™t specify fresh or dried, you can assume it means dried, since dried herbs are much more commonly used. Whichever herbs you choose, if youâ€™re unsure of the amount, start with just a little, taste often and add more during cooking. And to ensure that youâ€™re using dried herbs with the maximum amount of flavor, replace them every three months.
36. Add garlic to oils and vinegars. Oils and vinegars that have been flavored with garlic provide a quick and easy way to add some punch to salad dressings, stir fries and meats. Once prepared they can keep indefinitely and can be grabbed whenever you want to add a little flavor. To make your own simply peel garlic cloves and cut them in thirds. Put them in the bottom of the vinegar or oil shaker and leave for a few weeks before using.
37. Use marinades to add flavor. A good marinade will add lots of extra flavor and juices to meats and vegetables. But be careful not to marinade longer than the recipe calls for. Some foods, seafood in particular, break down when marinated in acidic ingredients such as vinegar, wine or citrus fruit juices. The result can be a mushy mess that no one wants to eat!
38. Make thicker gravy. For thicker gravy, mix some butter and flour in a frying pan and cook until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add it to your hot gravy for a thick and rich texture.
39. Choose perfect cuts of red meat. Red meat such as beef, pork and lamb should have a moist, red surface with no signs of drying or surface film. The fat should be a creamy white color and should not be dry. Look for even, well-cut meat that is free from sinew and excess fat. To store your meat, it is best to loosely wrap it on a plate and put it in the coldest part of your refrigerator so the air can circulate around it. Red meat should be either cooked or frozen within 2-3 days or purchase.
40. Keep the breading on meats. If a recipe calls for coating meat with breadcrumbs, refrigerate the breaded portions for an hour or even overnight before cooking. This will help the breading cling when you cook the meat instead of sticking to the bottom of the pan! Breaded meats can even be frozen and pan-fried without defrosting. Be sure to increase the cooking time slightly.
When you use these simple culinary tricks, you too can cook like the pros. You donâ€™t need a fancy kitchen or the latest gadgets. You just need to know the simple ways that you can get your food looking and tasting its best. Hopefully, the information above will get you excited about cooking and show you just how easy cooking can be.