No matter who you are, there’s probably at least a little room for you to improve your skills in the kitchen. We typically pick up most of our kitchen skills from our parents—after all, we probably spent at least some time with our moms in the kitchen when we were little kids. With practice and time, we may even get pretty good at certain recipes. Still, most of us probably didn’t go to school to become chefs. Fortunately, we can learn from the people who did.
With no further ado, here are 13 tips from master chefs that will help you spice up your cooking.
1. Keep Boiled Veggies Bright
Although this might not affect the taste of your food as much, it’s nice for presentation if all your vegetables stay bright in the final mix. To accomplish this, make sure that after you boil, fry or stew your vegetables that you shock them in ice water right after they’re done cooking to preserve their brightness!
2. Keep Cauliflower Fresh
Cooking with cauliflower is a nice low-carb alternative to using noodles in certain dishes. Still, keeping your cauliflower around too long can make it turn gray and lose its color—especially when you cook it. To prevent that, throw in a couple drops of milk and a little bit of salt when you’re cooking cauliflower to preserve its color.
3. Balance Out Your Pastries
If you love to bake pastries or other sweet desserts, you may notice that some of the ingredients that went into them become a little muted through the baking process. If you can relate to this issue, consider using about half a teaspoon of salt in your sweet dough to help balance out the flavors and brighten the recipe up.
4. Use Grapes As Ice Cubes
Many of us enjoy a nice glass of wine—and some of us even like to add ice to wine to cool it down. Still, ice cubes are not the best for this because they melt and end up diluting the flavor of the drink. Instead, throw some grapes in the freezer and plop those in your glass instead to keep the flavor intact.
5. Cook Perfect Rice
Cooking rice can be a delicate balance. We want it to absorb the perfect amount of moisture without becoming too soft or mushy. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this. If you’re cooking rice in a saucepan with boiling water, throw a kitchen towel over the pan after you’ve turned the heat off. The towel will absorb the extra moisture and your rice will crumble apart perfectly when it’s done.
6. Juicing Lemons And Limes
If you’ve ever tried to get fresh lemon or lime juice for a recipe, you know it can be pretty tricky to get all of the juice out rather than just some of it. To get more mileage out of these fruits, simply stick them in the microwave on high for 10 to 20 seconds before juicing them. When it comes out, cut it into wedges and squeeze. This method should yield a lot more juice than normal!
7. Make A Cake From Scratch
We’ve all baked cakes before but probably not without a recipe handy. Still, you actually don’t need a recipe at all—you only need to know this one simple guideline. Ready? All you have to do is use the main ingredients for the cake in equal proportions. In other words, the weight of sugar should be the same as the flour. The weight of the eggs should be the same as the weight of the butter. Use a kitchen scale for greater accuracy.
8. Keep Meat Fresh
When cooking different kinds of meat together, using too much aggressive heat or cutting into them can really take the moisture and tenderness out of them. One way to prevent this is to mix them with one egg white and a teaspoon of cornstarch to seal in their flavors while you cook.
9. Make Juicier Salads
When we typically make a salad, we chop everything up and throw it in a bowl together without giving the specific ingredients much mind. Still, this sometimes results in salads that have already lost some of their flavor. To avoid this, cut up your juicier veggies and fruits and separate them from the other ingredients in a bowl. After that, sprinkle them with salt. After a few minutes, add them to the salad—they should retain their moisture much better.
10. Spice Up Your Coffee
Coffee is what fuels many of us throughout the day, but we don’t always buy the nicest or most expensive kinds. Regardless, you can still step up your coffee game by adding a pinch of salt and cinnamon to the coffee grounds before brewing. Both ingredients together will help punch up the coffee’s aroma and taste!
11. Use Your Hand For Measurements
If we want to cook more on the fly without using all the measuring cups and spoons, we need some kind of shorthand way to do it which is still reasonably accurate. As it turns out, our hand is actually very helpful for that very purpose. A cup is about the size of your closed fist, an ounce is about the size of your thumb from tip to bottom knuckle (a tablespoon is half that) and one teaspoon is from the tip of your index to the first knuckle. A cupped hand is one or two ounces for nuts or pretzels and the palm of your hand without the fingers is about three ounces of meat.
12. Fresh Lemon Juice
Last but not least, fresh lemon juice is often a staple in many of our recipes. To make sure your lemon juice is as fresh as it can be, you don’t need to cut the lemon up and take it out. Instead, use your palm to roll the fruit around and then stab a toothpick in the bottom of it to get the juice out. This way, the air won’t get to the juice before you use it!
13. Make Easy Pastry Brushes
Sometimes a recipe will call for you to brush the top of it with butter using a pastry brush—but not all of us own these handy cooking utensils. Still, it’s easy to make one in a pinch. All you need is a piece of parchment paper folded over a handful of times into a thin rectangle. Cut the end of it with scissors to make your own bristles and you’re ready to go.
Do you have any additional kitchen tips and tricks to add? Let us know in the comments.
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