We could all do with a few industry secrets in all walks of life. Whether they are fashion tips from stylists or hacks on helping the kids sleep better from parenting experts. Professional advice can go a very long way indeed! Especially when it comes to anything in the kitchen. After all, we aren’t all born natural cooks. It is one skill that takes a lot of time and effort to perfect. So there is no wonder that so many of us wish we knew all the secrets that professional chefs know. Are you up for improving your cooking and baking? Well, here are some hints and tips that the pros rarely share.
Get Good With Mise En Place
All home chefs need to know the French cooking technique of mise en place. Sounds fancy, right? Well, it may do, but it couldn’t be any further from fancy! The phrase simply translates as ‘everything in place’. Simply put, it means you need to get all your ingredients out and in place before you start using them. So prepare all your ingredients and place them on your worktop within easy reach. Peel and chop onion and garlic before you start heating the oil. And get all your cake tins greased before you even start mixing your cake ingredients. This makes cooking and baking very easy. Everything will be conveniently close, and you won’t have to run around looking for any ingredient once you have started!
Add Sugar To Tomatoes
Cooking with a tin of chopped or plum tomatoes? Then you should always add a pinch of sugar. Don’t overdo it, though; you don’t want your tomatoes to taste too sweet. Just a small amount can take away the acidic taste that normally comes when using tinned tomatoes. You can also add it to vinegar-based sauces for the same effect. Not too sure how much to use? Just treat it like salt and think of it as seasoning.
Be Sure To Season
One of the big things that separates professional chefs from home cooks is seasoning. Even though lots of recipes call for seasoning, very few people still use salt and pepper properly when they are cooking at home. You shouldn’t just keep your salt and pepper on the dining room table for people to add as they eat. The seasoning needs to be added early on in the cooking process. You should also continue to add it throughout cooking if you feel the recipe needs more. This can really boost the flavor of all your dishes! However, you may want to cut back on the salt if you have small children as too much can be dangerous for them.
Sharpen Your Knives
Firstly, you need to use professional knives. They will be a lot more effective and give a cleaner cut than cheap knives. But once you have your professional knives, you need to take good care of them. And that means getting them regularly sharpened. To do this, you can either buy a knife sharpener that you can use yourself. Alternatively, you could take your set of knives to a professional knife sharpener.
Cook On Induction Stoves
Induction stoves are contemporary hobs that cook a lot more efficiently compared to traditional types. Instead of using heat to cook food, induction stoves use an oscillating magnetic field. This makes them a lot safer to use, as the stove tops do not generate heat. And once the pan is taken away from the stove top, heat generation stops as there is no magnetic field. However, one thing to remember about induction cooking is that you need the right kinds of pans to use on the stove. Tips to buy Induction Cookware can be found on various websites online.
Tongs Are Your Best Friend
If you walk into a professional kitchen, you will notice one thing almost immediately. All the chefs will have a pair of tongs in their hand! And that is because they are one of the most useful tools that you can use in a kitchen. You can use them for everything including flipping meat and pulling pans out of the oven. You can even use them to stabilize ingredients that you are cooking to save your fingers!
Sear Meat First
Many chefs prepare to sear meat before they finish cooking it in the oven. You can do this with any kind of meat, whether chicken or a steak. There is one reason why it is important to always sear your meat first. It’s because it helps the meat stay a lot juicier! Meat tends to dry out in the oven. But if you quickly sear it in a frying pan first, you will be sealing in all the tasty juices!
Have you ever heard of a bain-marie before? If you are a keen cook, you should have! This is one of the most important cooking techniques to master in the kitchen. And even though it has a very fancy name, the technique couldn’t be easier! You just need to heat up ingredients in a glass bowl above a pan of boiling water. It is more commonly used for melting chocolate for baking. All of the steam from the hot water warms up the glass bowl and melts the chocolate. It is important to keep an eye on your bain-marie and always stir the chocolate. Otherwise, it could burn very easily!
Don’t Overcrowd Your Pans
No matter how you are cooking – frying, grilling, roasting – try not to put too much meat in your pan. It is much better to cook in small batches rather than trying to cram everything into the same pan. If you put too much in one pan, you will be encouraging steaming. This will eventually lower the overall temperature of your pan. And when this happens, you won’t get a nice caramelization on all the meat. As the caramelization is where all the flavor is, you need to try your hardest to keep as much as you can!
Keep Cuttings For Stock
When you are preparing your vegetables, you should keep all the cutting and peelings rather than throwing them away. Firstly, you may be able to use them in a stock. Homemade stocks taste ten-times better than shop-bought ones. I heartily recommend making your own! Simply chuck in as many veggie peelings into the stock pan for even more flavor. If you don’t know when the next time you will be making stock will be, you should still keep your peelings and cuttings. You can use them to make compost with. This is a great idea if you already grow your own fruit and vegetables. Simply collect all your organic food waste together and wait until it starts decomposing. You can then spread it on your garden patch to help fortify the soil with plenty of important nutrients!
Use Your Nose
Many people use their eyes when cooking, but few use their nose as well. However, this is crucial if you are ever going to get better at cooking. If something smells like it is cooked in the oven, you should get it out and check it. Even if the dish hasn’t had the allocated time suggested in the recipe. Your nose will rarely let you down!