Whether you’re taking a step into independence to survive on your own to feet, to impress your friends in a college-reunion party at home, or win the heart of a new man, there’s a few things every girl should know before she starts to venture in the kitchen. We’re not talking about basic etiquette of cleaning, but a few important details that chefs and food-lovers should know. So take note of our guide and maybe save up to get your own custom-made apron!
1. Invest in Good Tools
Much like getting a new car, you want to spend your money on something good that will last. It’s the same with your kitchen tools. Invest in key essentials or tools that you think you will be using often like a chef’s knife, skillet or non-stick pan, peeler, stock-pot and mixing bowl. Opt for glass or stainless steel materials for a mixing bowl as they’re a breeze when it comes to cleaning. If you intend to take up baking, invest in an electric weight-scale and measuring cups.
2. Onions, Garlic, Herbs and Spices
When learning to make meals, it’s important to know about the importance of creating a flavor base. Onions and garlic can found in most dishes to enhance flavor, or to give your dish an aroma. Herbs and spices complement the taste palette of certain food, especially meat. For example, you can never go wrong with rosemary and lamb. Just remember not to go overboard with the garlic if you’re planning a romantic dinner with your man!
A man enjoys a good steak. But some men like their steak rare, medium rare, well-done, etc. If you’re confused, it’s time to get your pencils ready! Cooking a steak is not as difficult as most people claim it to be. However, it will take some practice and a little knowledge to cook a good one.
Most common steaks are usually rare and medium-rare. A rare steak is cooked shortly on high-heat. It’s minimally cooked on the outside and is generally red in the middle. To test the level of doneness of a rate steak with your palm, press your finger against the at the end of your thumb. It should feel very fleshy and rather firm. A rare steak should feel the same. Medium rare steaks are usually slightly more cooked than a rare steak. It’s usually favored by those who prefer a half-way between a rare and a slightly cooked steak. A medium-rare steak should feel much firmer, so take your thumb and fore-finger of your left hand and press them together in the fleshy area between your thumb and fore-finger. (Source)
4. Cooking Terms
When you’re watching a cooking show or reading up on recipes online, you may encounter a couple of terms that might seem foreign to you. Apart from these terms actually being foreign, here’s a short list of commonly used foreign cooking terms you should know..
Al dente (Italian) Meaning ‘to the tooth’, to describe the way pasta is cooking where it’s firm and chewy, but not too soft.
Bouillon (French) Broth or stock.
Sauté (French) Cooking with very little oil.
Julienne (French) Vegetables or potatoes cut into thin sticks
Roux (French) Melted butter to which flour has been added – used as a thickener for sauces or soups.
5. Learn How to Chop and Dice
Cooking doesn’t just mean simply stirring what’s cooking in the pot. The first step to learning how to cook would be to assemble your ingredients, and there’s a very high chance that some chopping and slicing would be involved, especially with onions and garlic are concerned. As chopping and dicing can be dangerous to some, start slow and focus on effectively chopping the products safely. Watch videos online to help master the technique
Don’t worry about chopping them to look perfect. Focus on getting the technique right without hurting yourself. Investing in a good chef’s knife is important when trying to chop.
6. Know Your Cheese
If you like cheese, it’s important to know the different kinds of cheese available. Most commonly used cheeses are parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar. Parmesan is commonly used as a topping for salads and some pasta dishes, while mozzarella is generally used on baked dishes, where it melts and becomes stringy, like Pizza. Cheddar is a form of processed cheese where age defines its texture and saltiness. It is generally used on sandwiches and cheese sauces.
There are also a variety of other cheese like Blue cheese, Edam, Gouda and Brie where you can enjoy on crackers and a glass of wine.
7. Baking Ratios
Unlike cooking, baking is more scientific where it’s crucial to follow some recipes in order to get it right, so it’s quite a challenge to improvise. If you’ve attempted to bake, you may have encountered numerous failed attempts in getting the perfect moist texture, the perfect ‘rise’ or the perfect taste. The golden rule of cake-baking is to combine 1 part sugar with 1 part butter or other fat, 1 part flour, and 1 part eggs. Also remember that each 1 cup of flour, requires 1 to 2 tablespoons of baking powder. Too much can make your cake a little bitter.
When mixing your cake batter, combine eggs last. The trick to a perfect ‘rise’ is to whisk the eggs, then mix it in the batter little by little. This to get air inside the mixture to make the batter rise. The trick to a fluffy and crumbly cake is to use buttermilk. If you can’t find it in the supermarket, simply pour full-cream milk in a glass, add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and give it 5 minutes to curdle. (Source)
8. Cooking Methods
The best part about cooking is the actual cooking itself! But cooking is not limited to just ‘cooking’. There are many ways to cook something and it’s all about cooking methods. There’s frying, stir-frying, roasting, braising, steaming, broiling, sautéing, blanching, and so much more? Here, we borrowed a guide from ChasingDelicious.com to give you a simple chart on the various cooking methods. (Source)
9. Make Your Own Stock
Instead of buying stock cubes that may sometimes contain flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate (MSG) that can cause hair-fall and a list of health problems, invest in a decent stock pot to make own stock. You can make stock from your leftover meat bones like chicken, beef or duck, or even fresh vegetable stock from leftover water when you boil vegetables. You may need to clear up some space in your freezer, but believe it or not, fresh stock will enhance the flavor of you food a lot better than stock cubes.
10. Cooking with Wine
Wine is not only for drinking. Red wine can be used as reduction sauce for dishes with beef or lamb, while white wine complements more lighter dishes, like a creamy sauce for dish. You can also marinade your meats like lamb with red wine as it not only adds flavor to the meat, but also tenderises the meat too! When shopping for wine to cook, there is no need to look for wines labeled “For Cooking”, as they can be rather tasteless and dilute. Simply shop for a regular bottle for consumption that will complement the dish you aim to prepare. (Source)
We hope this guide will help you on your journey to becoming a chef at home. Don’t forget to share your recipes with us on the Lipstiq Forum!