There are certain things that bother me about recipes, as I am sure they do to many. I was a recipe tester for a publishing company many moons ago, and it was astonishing how many recipes failed miserably. Most, if not all, had at least one silly flaw or assumed that the user was already a professional chef. Some were a complete disaster which gave us promise of a beautiful cake but instead gave us a weird, lumpy, aerated casserole at best.There are some red flags that are easy to spot upon first glance but I can imagine that it is a lot harder when you don’t have formal training.
This series is about little culinary tricks and shortcuts to make your life easier by avoiding mishaps in the kitchen.
The first set of tips are:
– Read the recipe again. And again.
Although we want to believe it’s always the recipe’s fault, sometimes it’s us. Reading the recipe a few times is very important because there may be steps or tools in there that are unfamiliar. Also, it will allow you to truly assess if you are prepared, and how much time you will ACTUALLY need.
– Prep all your ingredients before starting.
I have seen many almost-successful recipes go awry when things are frantically being chopped, or greased, or pre-heated when it’s already too late or when too many things are happening simultaneously. The first part of cooking is the most relaxing to me because there is no fire yet. Just a preheating oven and some zen slicing and dicing. Take this time to put on music and CHILL. Starting the recipe with everything cut, measured, greased, lined, and preheated makes for a fun experience…which is what cooking should always be at home.
– Clean as you go.
I could not stress this one more. Nothing will kill your “LOOK WHAT WE MADE! IT LOOKS AWESOME” feeling like glancing over at Mount Dishuvius in the sink. This is why, I encourage with all my heart, that you clean as you go. Waiting for a pot of water to boil? Wash a whisk and a pan. If at any time you find yourself just standing and waiting, wash something or put something away. This is a mantra I live by and it saves me more than HALF of the standard clean-up at the end. Sometimes I keep a fat glass of wine by the sink and reward myself after something gets cleaned. Please reward yourself responsibly.
– Don’t use more stuff than you have to.
This one is part two of “Clean as you go”. With the exception of tasting spoons (ones that went in your mouth, or your friends mouth, or your dogs mouth) and utensils used for raw meats, you can rinse most utensils and reuse them. Don’t go through 6 spatulas just because the first one got sauce on it. Rinse the sauce off reuse. You should also try to minimize your pot/pan usage as well. If you have to brown mushrooms for a sauce then “set aside” followed by sauteeing onions- use the same pan for both! Give the pan a quick wipe with a paper towel to remove any residue and use that sucker again!
More things that make your life easier to come!
On the next TTMYLE post: Why zesting citrus rocks, perfect pasta, and why parchment paper is sexy.