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101 Tips and Techniques for Cooking like a Chef 81-90

When you want to cook like a chef, you need to understand how your recipe works. Experts read more in their recipes than just measurements, and to cook like a chef you need to do the same thing.  Here are some ways that you too can learn to “read” your recipes and to prepare amazing meals for your family and friends.


101 Tips and Techniques for Cooking like a Chef 81-90


81. Make the fluffiest baked potatoes. Start by choosing a potato with a high starch content. Russets and Idahos are both good choices. Before placing your potatoes in the oven, pierce them several times with a knife in order to let the steam escape during baking.  Never wrap your potatoes, as it will cause them to steam rather than to bake.  When serving your baked potatoes, cut a slit in the top and squeeze the sides of the potato before adding toppings.

82. Soften up the skin on baked potatoes. Do you like to eat the skin along with your baked potatoes? Make it soft and delicious by rubbing the outside of your potatoes with some vegetable oil before placing them into a hot oven. Add a little butter and sour cream – even some shredded cheese if you like – and you have a perfect side dish!

83. Make perfect mashed potatoes. Whether you like them on their own, smothered in butter or drowned in gravy, mashed potatoes are an excellent accompaniment to many different meals. To make them like the pros do start by putting several whole garlic cloves in the water with the boiling potatoes. The garlic will cook and once the potatoes are mashed it will give them a wonderful flavor. While mashing, add buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, or a combination of these. Experiment to find the taste that you like best!

84. Bake potatoes in a flash. Need them fast? You can microwave potatoes but they’re always nicer in the oven. To bake them quickly, slice your potatoes in half lengthwise and bake them with the flat part facing down.  Be sure to grease the baking sheet, and them simply place into a 375-degree oven for about half an hour.

85. Stop cheesecake from cracking. Cheesecakes often crack on the top because they lose moisture while they cook. If you’re adding a topping it doesn’t matter, but if you’re serving the cake without anything on top it’s nice to have it looking perfect. Avoid cracking by putting a small dish of water on the rack beside your cake while it is cooking. This will keep it moist and crack-free!

86. Make sure your yeast is fresh.  Yeast is a living organism. And in order for it to work to it needs to be alive when you use it. To test whether yeast is active, combine it with the amount of warm water asked for in the recipe. Then add a small amount of sugar (1/8 of a teaspoon is all that’s needed). The sugar acts as food for the yeast and if it’s alive it will begin to bubble within approximately 10 minutes. If there is no bubbling then you know the yeast is no good.

87. The key to great pastry is cold ingredients. Making your own pastry can sometimes be a challenge. But once you master it you’ll enjoy having it as part of your baking repertoire. To get really fabulous pastry, the key is to make sure ALL of the ingredients are cold before you mix them together – including the flour! Then once you’ve formed the dough, refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes to make it easier to roll.

88. Add a little something extra to your pies. Most pie recipes call for the same plain piecrust. Boring! Instead create your own variation by adding spices to your dough such as cinnamon, nutmeg or even ginger. Another great idea is to add ground nuts or even cookies crumbs on top of the bottom crust before adding your filling. Be sure to press them down a little though so they stay as part of the crust.

89. Make flakier pie crust. Add a teaspoon of very cold vinegar in place of a teaspoon of ice water for flakier pie crusts. Be sure that it is very cold though. This helps the fat chill and prevents it from releasing its water content and moistening the flour. When this happens, gluten develops and the result is pastry that is tough instead of light and flaky. Ideally you’ll also let the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight before using to get good and cold again.

90. Toast nuts to intensify their flavor. Toasting nuts before using them in recipes intensifies their flavor. To toast nuts, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan often, and roast for four or five minutes until fragrant. Cool before using. Because nuts have a high fat content, they go rancid quickly. The best way to store shelled nuts is in an airtight container in the refrigerator where they’ll keep for about four months.

Cooking will no longer be a chore with these simple tips designed to make your life easier. In today’s busy world, time savers like these are a welcome addition to every kitchen. Try them out today and see the results right away.

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