In the last three decades, food shows have flooded the media on TV, on paper and online, inspiring more and more Americans to cook at home. Anyone can master the most basic and important techniques that guarantee consistent success. There are also some fantastic tips to fast cooking after work that you could follow online to become an even better cook. When cooking at home, you need to make sure that you have all the utensils that you can think of to ensure that your cooking experience is a success. And not forgetting how good your food will taste afterwards.
There are many different things you need to learn about before deciding to step into the kitchen. Find out why garlic should be the first thing you should chop, how to cook the perfect steak with the perfect side of pasta and more. Most importantly, you will find out how to eat a cupcake without getting a frosting facial. These simple cook’s tips will have you cooking like a champ in no time.
How to Eat a Cupcake
Most of us attack a cupcake head-on, making ridiculous expressions, trying to avoid getting a facial with the frosting and failing miserably.
Sometimes the frosting is sacrificed in the process and not eaten at all. What a waste.
1. Remove the wrapper
2. Gently split the cupcake in half
3. Place the bottom over the frosting
4. Eat your neat, little cupcake sandwich.
Your life will be better forever.
Garlic is one of those super-foods. The ordinary, often overlooked plant is actually quite extraordinary. Not only is it essential to adding beautiful flavor to any savory dish, it also contains heart-healthy, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-cancer properties, prevents food poisoning and, as a bonus, fights off vampires. The potency of the beneficial compounds is destroyed by the heat of cooking. So, the first thing that goes onto my chopping board is always the garlic.
I take 2-3 cloves of garlic and give them a good bashing with the flat of my cooking knife. Then I mince and smoosh the garlic against the cutting board. Finally, I collect the minced garlic in a little bowl where it must rest at least 10 minutes. This is sufficient time for the precious allicin compound to develop. As Dad explains, allicin is crucial to the heart-healthy, anti-cancer, antibacterial qualities of garlic that would otherwise be destroyed by the heat of the cooking process. So, while my garlic rests in that little bowl, I move on to the rest of the ingredients. If you are worried about stinky breath, just drink a cup of black tea after dinner. No one will ever suspect you ate any garlic.
Buttermilk imparts a very special delicate texture to your pancakes. While that may be true, you will probably never catch me reaching for the carton at the supermarket. It is one more less-often used ingredients. So, when I need it, I make my own.
1 cup whole milk milk
4 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
The recipe calls for cake flour, but you don’t have any? No problem. Use all-purpose.
Most of us do not stock-pile what I call specialty ingredients. Cake flour is one of them. It is basically all-purpose flour without the gluten. In the old days, I used to spend a pretty penny on a small of box of precious cake flour.
Nowadays, I just get 5-pounders of the regular stuff and use it for everything, including fluffy sponge cake. It turns out perfectly every time. The trick is to not overwork the batter. Vigorous mixing causes the gluten to develop and results in tough, chewy baked goods. Once the flour is added to the bowl, just mix gently just until the flour disappears. Then, your cookies and cakes will turn out beautifully every time. And, because cake flour wasn’t enough, there is also another fancy flour. Self-raising, Self-rising, whatever it’s called. If that recipe calls for cake flour or self-rising flour, don’t chuck it. Just make your own. Here’s how:
1 cup flour
2 Tb cornstarch
2 cups flour
1 Tb baking powder
Hens all over the world would be grateful if we just stopped stealing their eggs, but vegan baking is challenging and limiting. Not everything can be made well without the traditional addition of eggs.
Case in point, sponge cake. I should like to see someone successfully make a vegan sponge cake that is both delicious and airy. So, I use eggs, but I don’t buy just any eggs.They must be free-range, free-roaming, because I want the girls to have a chance to stretch their legs and breath fresh air. And I handle them with care.
Cooking eggs seems like the easiest, most basic thing anyone can do in the kitchen, but it can actually be a bit challenging. Between Jacques Pépin and my coworker friend Danny who is an egg connoisseur, I learned the secret to cooking eggs perfectly every time.
Crack eggs against a clean, flat surface.
Breaking them against the rim of the mixing bowl or frying pan can introduce bacteria and break the yolk.
Before cooking, puncture a tiny hole into the rounder end of the egg. This releases the pressure from air pocket inside the shell and prevents cracking.
Take eggs out of fridge, cold.
Collect them in a shallow pan in a single layer and cover with enough water to cover the eggs.
Add a pinch of baking soda. This will make the shell slide right off. Alternatively, if you’re looking for an innovative to strip your eggs in the future, you could look at getting a hard boiled egg peeler.
Once the water just starts to bubble, wait 8-10 seconds,
then take the pot off of the heat, put the lid on.
Let the eggs rest in the hot water
*6-7-minutes for a soft yolk
*10-12 minutes for hardboiled.
Remove, peel and enjoy!
Throughout history, hard times saw low rations and moms had to be innovative in feeding their families. Out of the Great Depression was born a fluffy chocolate cake made entirely without eggs or dairy called Depression Cake.
Another interesting adaptation is the meatless breakfast sausage made with oatmeal which is said to have been created during WWII, but my research has not found any substantial evidence. Nonetheless, the taste and texture of the sausage is quite convincing!
Baking vegan can be so frustrating, especially if you don’t have all the fancy substitute ingredients nor the patience.
But, now it’s easy to make vegan-friendly versions of your favorite baked goods just by ditching the dairy and using some things you already have in your pantry and fridge.
Instead of butter, use coconut or vegetable oil. If the recipe calls for milk, use juice, liqueur (ooh la la) or just water.
Replacing eggs can be tricky. Here’s how to do it.
Give Mama Hen a break and substitute 1 egg in a recipe with:
1 Tb vinegar + 1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup mashed banana
1/4 cup of plain yogurt
How to Cook Pasta
It sounds quite ridiculous for someone to have to tell you how to cook pasta. How hard could it be?
You boil some water, add some olive oil, toss the pasta in and Bob’s your uncle. Well, that is what I thought, until I heard what I heard on the radio one morning on my way to the office. That’s when I realized I had been doing it wrong all along. Anyone can do it right with a few tricks to guarantee perfect.
Knowing when to take the pasta out of the hot water is the secret. Al dente is Italian for to the tooth and marks the point at which the pasta should be drained. It will continue to cook from its own residual heat and that of the sauce to perfect consistency. Overcooking pasta will give you nothing more than a bowl of mush.
The pros recommend 5 quarts of water for every pound of pasta. That’s 1 gallon + 4 cups or 20 cups of water. That may seem like a lot. 5 cups should be enough plenty.
Add 1/4 cup of salt to the water and put the lid on.
Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir gently. This helps keep the pasta from sticking. Do not add olive oil to the cooking water.
Different shapes of pasta cook differently. Refer to the package instructions for cooking time.
Most will achieve al-dente consistency in 5-7 minutes.
Scoop a cup of the starchy pasta water and save it to add to your sauce as needed.
Drain the pasta, but do not rinse it.
Serve in bowls to help keep the pasta warm longer.
The secret to fancy steakhouse food is simple: Good quality meat, a thermometer and a bit of patience. Look for the best quality of meat you can afford. Homegrown Cow offers a variety of meats from humanely treated livestock delivered right to your door.
The most delicious food takes time to prepare and this is one of those techniques you will want to master. Fude House shows you how to cook a steak like a rockstar. Who knew science could be so sexy? Traditionally, steaks are seared first, then finished in the oven. We are going to turn the tables and bake first, on low.
The magical numbers are 275*F for the oven and 125*F for the inside of the steak, regardless of the size and thickness of the meat.
Preheat oven to 275*F.
Season steak on all sides. Snider’s Prime Rib dry rub is all you need.
Place steak onto wire rack over baking tray and transfer to warm oven.
Bake until the internal temperature is 125*F.
For a 2-inch thick, 1-pound piece of steak, it will take close to 1 hour to get the internal temperature up to target. After the steak is taken out of the oven, it will continue cooking. Once the internal temp reaches 135*F, a quick sear in a cast iron pan, 1 minute on each side crisps the outside with a beautiful thin crust and the inside to a perfectly even medium-rare. You can also grill it, which is what we prefer. Then, slice and serve!
Shortening can be stored at room temperature for 1,500 years and won’t ever spoil. (A slight exaggeration, of course.) Its consistency stays creamy and makes pastry beautifully crumbly. But, I’m a butter girl through and through. My best friend is a cardiologist and confirmed butter is better for your arteries than shortening. So, there you go.
I keep my butter in the fridge, which is fine unless the recipe calls for soft butter. Then I have to plan ahead, put a couple a sticks on the counter for a bit while. When there isn’t enough time to wait for it to warm up to room temp, I fast-forward to the future by nuking it in the microwave or heating it on the stove.
These both sound like great ideas, but you end up with bubbling hot liquid and a big chunk of solid butter in the center, not exactly the creamy, soft consistency we were going for. So, go low-tech and grate the butter like it’s cheese. This works perfectly. Not only do I pump up my biceps, the shredding exposes more of the surface area to the elements and brings the butter to room temperature quickly with perfect consistency.
I have a lot to say about cookies, mainly because I just love them. To bake them, smell them, eat them! But, one thing that annoys the hell out of me is when you cut them into pretty shapes only to see them warp into weird morphs in the oven.
One way to ensure cookies keep their shape is to use shortening instead of butter.
But, that stuff stays solid in your arteries and tastes like nothing. So I always use butter. To combat the effects of heat on butter, there’s a very simple technique.
The first step to baking is to mix sugar with the butter. In this step, avoid over-mixing. Mix just until the sugar and butter have combined. This is how you can be sure your beautiful cookies will keep their figures when they return from the oven.
Cooking greens dulls the color, making it appear grayish olive. Not very appetizing.
I’m not a fan of boiling anything and will avoid it at all cost, but there are times that you can’t avoid Adding frozen peas shortly before serving helps them keep their beautiful color.
Another simple trick to retain that bright, vibrant green hue is the addition of a small pinch of baking soda to the cooking process.
This works well for other greens such as spinach and peas that are more readily available fresh rather than frozen.
We’d eat more greens if they actually looked green, wouldn’t we?