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20 Tips for How to Be a Better Home Cook

20 Tips for How to Be a Better Home Cook



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Do you think Julia Child scoffed at the sound of someone giving her a cooking tip while she worked in her kitchen? Would José Andrés fire his chef de cuisine on the spot for suggesting something new on the menu? Do you think James Beard never had a question about a technique?

See the 20 Tips for How to Be a Better Home Cook Slideshow

We don’t think so, and we don’t think that any other legendary culinarian would act in this way, either, because learning the craft of the culinary arts is never complete. With varying opinions, different training, and new techniques and ingredients being introduced every single day, there is never an old tip or suggestion when it comes to cooking, and we as cooks are committed to an unending quest to discover how to be better in the kitchen.

The Cook editors at The Daily Meal never stop asking questions about cooking. In fact, we have contributors telling us new tricks of the trade on a daily basis. While cooking advice can be narrowed down to the most specific questions (like, say, how do you use a pressure cooker?), we also want to know what those overarching skills and qualities are that make so many talented chefs, cookbook authors, and bloggers as great as they are today.

Want to know how we found out? We just asked them, and now we have a neat and easy list of their thoughts for you to refer to. We didn’t just go to one expert, but to several, from big names like TV personality Sara Moulton and legendary inventors like Nathan Myhrvold to talented and hard-working chefs that are, probably right now in fact, ferociously working away at the stove to create beautiful and delicious masterpieces with food.

These tips range in topic and scope; some are ones you should remember every single time you’re in the kitchen (like salt!), and others are things like roasting a chicken, because if you don’t know how to do it, then you can just forget about being a good cook. Some had us going "right, right…" and others had us raising an eyebrow, but at the end of the day, the tips listed here are things that we think you should know (and pass along to others) if you ever want to join the ranks of Child, Andrés, and Beard. So put your pride aside for a moment and take a look, we think some might surprise you.

Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce


Cooking at Home

Coronavirus update

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues, dine-in restaurants in your area may be closed or have limited seating, or you may not yet feel comfortable about eating out. This can be an ideal opportunity to try cooking meals at home. Even if you’re not able to share home-cooked food with friends and family at this time, you can still experience the many health benefits—and save some money on your weekly food bills.


The 7 Essentials of Becoming a Better Cook

</head>I'll never be the best cook on staff at Bon Appétit. I cover restaurants and food culture—code for the fact that I eat out constantly. I post up at restaurants for as many as six nights a week. When my body rebels, my restaurant count drops to around four per week.

I never learned how to cook as a kid. Growing up, dinnertime involved thumbing through delivery menus and picking up the phone. We had a couple of family staples—meatballs, mac and cheese, steak—but no family heirloom recipes, intensive all-day cooking holidays, or cookbooks marked up with tried-and-true adjustments.

It wasn't until a few years ago, after a Chopped marathon, that I decided I should teach myself how to cook. The structure of the show is formulaic, and after watching enough episodes, I began to notice chefs leaning on the same few staples to build their dishes. They riff on beurre blancs and French toast. They make compotes by reducing in a saucepan, blend ingredients to form sauces, and pulverize crumbly foods to make "croutons." What changes are the flavors.

Every week for a summer, I tackled a new technique or ingredient and consciously tried to build a foundation. I've never been one for recipes (though, now that I work here, I'll admit I've tried a few), and I'm still learning. But now I'm the person who picks up a random ingredient at a farmers' market (garlic scapes! elderberries!) and builds a meal around it. Once I learned the following, it all came together:

Once I learned to roast, sauté, and stir-fry, I realized I could make low-key hot food with very minimal effort. Roasting really is as simple as putting vegetables or a protein in a pan, dousing in oil and salt, and popping it in the oven at 350°F, give or take 50°F. Stir-frying requires oil in a scorchingly hot pan plus ingredients in constant motion. Those simple building blocks helped me build confidence that I could treat several different ingredients with these methods and work from there. My go-to fall roast this year was butternut squash plus grapes, which I folded into a farro and arugula salad for lunch and added to yogurt with honey for breakfast the following morning.


The Right Way to Prepare Oatmeal and 5 Tips for Making It Better

Oatmeal is a satisfying, healthy morning meal. Here are cooking instructions for quick-cooking oats, old-fashioned oats and steel-cut oats.

Oatmeal is a satisfying, healthy morning meal. It&aposs a whole grain–something that most Americans don&apost eat often enough. It is high in soluble fiber, which may help to lower "bad" LDL cholesterol, and has a healthy amount of protein, both of which will help you feel satisfied until lunch. Plus it&aposs a low-glycemic-index (GI) food𠄺nd research suggests that eating a low-GI meal before you exercise may help you burn more fat. No matter what type of oats you choose, quick oats, steel-cut and rolled oats are equally healthy nutrition-wise. Top it with your favorite fruit to add more fiber and nuts for filling healthy fats.

Here are cooking methods for the most common types of oatmeal. Use these instructions to prepare 1 serving of oatmeal, or follow package directions. One serving of each type of oatmeal below is about 150 calories (prepared with water) and 4 grams of fiber.

How to Make Oatmeal with Quick-Cooking Oats

Pictured Recipe: Quick-Cooking Oats

Quick-cooking oats, or quick oats, have been precooked then dried and rolled. As the name suggests, they have a short cooking time–they are sometimes labeled "instant oats" or "instant oatmeal."

Stove top:਋ring 1 cup milk or water and a pinch of salt (if desired) to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup oats and reduce heat to medium cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.

Microwave:਌ombine 1 cup water (or nonfat or low-fat milk), 1/2 cup oats and a pinch of salt (if desired) in a 2-cup microwavable bowl. Microwave on High for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Stir before serving.

How to Make Oatmeal with Old-Fashioned Oats

Old-fashioned oats have been steamed and then rolled. They are sometimes labeled "rolled oats." For creamy oatmeal, use milk.

Stovetop:਋ring 1 cup water (or nonfat or low-fat milk) and a pinch of salt (if desired) to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in 1/2 cup oats and reduce heat to medium cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes.

Microwave: Combine 1 cup water (or nonfat or low-fat milk), 1/2 cup oats and a pinch of salt (if desired) in a 2-cup microwavable bowl. Microwave on High for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Stir before serving.

How to Make Oatmeal with Steel-Cut Oats

Pictured Recipe: Steel-Cut Oatmeal

Steel-cut oats are toasted and cut oat groats–the oat kernel that has been removed from the husk. It&aposs not difficult to cook steel-cut oats, but they do take a little bit more time. They are sometimes labeled "Irish oatmeal."

Stove top:਋ring 1 cup water or milk and a pinch of salt (if desired) to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in 1/4 cup oats and reduce heat to low cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are the desired texture, 20 to 30 minutes.

Oatmeal Topping Ideas

Add-ins make any oatmeal better-tasting, but they also make it more nutritious. Topping oatmeal with your favorite fruit boosts the fiber, and nuts offer healthy fats and make breakfast more filling, too.

  • Dried fruit (such as raisins, cranberries, cherries or chopped apricots or dates)
  • Fresh or frozen berries
  • Applesauce
  • Jam or preserves
  • Chopped or sliced fresh fruit (such as bananas or apples)

Nuts or seeds:

  • Almonds, pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts or peanut butter
  • Sesame seeds, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds

5 Tips for Your Best-Yet Bowl of Oatmeal

1. Use Steel-Cut Oats

Yes, they take a lot longer to cook than quick-cooking oats or old-fashioned "rolled oats," but they&aposre worth it. The texture of steel-cut oatmeal is simultaneously delicious, creamy and chewy.

2. Avoid Instant Oatmeals

Most instant oatmeals in packets have added sugars. If you add any sweeteners at home, you can control how much and what kind.

3. Mind the Liquid-to-Oat Ratio

Read the instructions on the side of your oatmeal container and do what they say to avoid a pasty, sticky mess or a soupy mush. For steel-cut oats, the ratio is 1 cup of liquid per 1/4 cup of oats. If you are using quick-cooking or rolled oats, the ratio is 1 cup of liquid per 1/2 cup of oats.

4. Think Beyond Water (Use Milk or Juice)

For a boost of calcium and creamy flavor, make oatmeal with low-fat milk instead of water. Or, try making it with apple cider instead. When cooking this way, the ratio of liquid to oats stays the same, so it should be an easy switch to make. Once you&aposve tried oatmeal with a hit of flavor infused into the cooking, you&aposll never go back.

5. Make It Ahead

What&aposs better than a delicious, comforting bowl of oatmeal in the morning? How about having it ready when you wake up! Make a big batch of steel-cut oats in your slow cooker on a Sunday and then keep it in your fridge. Each morning, simply spoon up a serving&aposs worth in a microwave-safe bowl, add a tablespoon or two of water and then microwave until hot (1-2 minutes). It&aposs a simple, tasty way to have your favorite breakfast ready and waiting any day of the week.

Or try making overnight oats: Mix equal parts old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking) and water along with a pinch of salt in a jar, cover and refrigerate overnight and up to 3 days. In the morning, you can eat it cold or heat it up in the microwave.

No matter your mix-in or cooking method, a bowl of oatmeal in the a.m. is a stick-to-your-ribs way to kick-start your day.

How to Store Your Oats

Unprepared oats should be kept in an airtight container in a cool, dark spot in your pantry for up to 12 months, or check the "Best if used by" or "Best by" date on the package.


And then Make All Types of 'em

Shutterstock

They're easier than you'd think: "Wash and dry the kale thoroughly. Then, remove the stems and ribs from the kale and cut the leaves into large, chip-sized, pieces. Toss on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Feel free to experiment with different additional spices for seasoning, BBQ, Garlic Powder, Old Bay, Italian Seasoning, etc. Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for about 5 minutes. But keep a close eye on the kale chips as they can burn easily. Be careful as kale chips are fragile and can break easily," shares HelloFresh Chef Nate Appel.


Here is a collection of my top visited posts according to the search engines. These are the most requested articles, posts and recipes you’ll find on my site. I check the search engines once a month to see what is trending and will make changes when changes are due.

If you are a fan of Instagram and like sharing photos of what you’re cooking, here are some of my latest Instagram posts. I may not post every recipe I prepare, but I do like posting pics of them on it. If you like what you see, please follow me on Instagram.


Mistake: You don't know when raw chicken has gone bad.

Shutterstock

There are three easy ways you can check to see if your raw chicken has peaked far past its prime, according to Claudia Sidoti, chef, food industry leader, and member of the Eat This, Not That! Medical Expert Board who's opening a restaurant in upstate New York this summer. First, Sidoti advises looking for a change in color. "Fresh, raw chicken should have a pink, fleshy color. As it starts to go bad, the color fades to a shade of grey," Sidoti previously told Eat This, Not That.

Second, Sidoti says to trust your nose. "Raw chicken that has gone bad has a very potent odor. Sometimes it can be described as a sour smell. If the chicken has taken on an odor of any sort, it's safest to toss it," she says.

And if you're thinking of pairing some vegetables with your bird, be sure to avoid these 8 Common Mistakes You're Making When Cooking Veggies.


9 Easy Tips And Tricks to Cook the Perfect Omelette

Highlights


If you have eggs in stock, you don't have to worry because you can whip up a delicious meal in minutes.

Tips to make a great omelette

1.Choose your eggs with caution: Make sure the eggs you pick are at room temperature before cooking. When you take the egg out of the refrigerator to whip yourself a good omelette, keep them aside for a while. Cold eggs take longer to set and this may result in overcooking.

2. For the fluffy goodness: To obtain a fluffy texture, add small small amount of milk or cream, and see your omelette fluff up in all its glory.

3. Beat them right: Beat the eggs well until no more flecks of white can be seen. It should be frothy and light.

4. Know when to pour your egg batter: Melt the butter before adding the eggs to the pan. When the bubbles (arising out of heated butter or oil) tend to die down, add eggs. For a more rich texture and taste, butter is always preferred.

5. Take note of the colour: You have to be very careful while cooking eggs as they are delicate. At one moment you have a fluffy and cream omelette and if you don't pay attention it may turn brown and charred. The bottom of the omelette should not be brown but light yellowish or cream-coloured.

6. Toppings: Add the toppings once the egg has set in well and scatter them before folding.

7. Use a small non-stick pan for best results: Non-stick pans are the best for cooking omelettes. Cook them on medium heat. Also, keep the size of the pan in mind before starting. If the pan is too big, the omelette will cook too quickly and if it is too small it may cook only on the outside with a runny center. If you are using a small frying pan try not to use more than two eggs for each omelette.

8. How to perfectly place the omelette without breaking: Shake the pan gently to loosen any egg or filling from edge, then slide the omelet to edge of skillet. Holding the skillet above the plate, tip it so that omelette slides off onto the plate.

9. Choose your ingredients wisely: Try not to include too many ingredients as this will make the omelette hard to fold. Cheese, herbs, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, bacon and sausages are some of the most favoured ingredients used for toppings.

Onions, mushrooms, bacon and sausages are some of the most favoured ingredients used for toppings

Master the art of making the perfect omelette with these quick tips and play around with new flavours, seasonings, toppings and stuffing. Happy experimenting!

About Sushmita Sengupta Sharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.


Mix It Up

It is very easy to get stuck cooking the same recipes daily, and unfortunately, when you cook the same meals they can become very bland and mundane, and most likely you will even dread cooking them. Mixing it up can be something simple such as changing how you prepare the ingredients, or it could be a bit more such as mixing up the ingredients that you use and integrate. You know what you and your family enjoy eating and so you know how they like meals to be prepared and presented and this is important to remember. Some recipes may call for a certain way of doing something, but if you know that it will not be well received or consumed by your family then try and prepare food in a way which you know will go down a treat.


Bulk Cooking Recipes

These recipes are so easy to fix. You can make them in a crockpot or slow cooker if you prefer. That lets them be cooking for hours while you&rsquore doing other things or even out of the house.

1. Chicken Noodle Soup

Our own recipe is delicious and easy to fix. If you double or triple all the ingredients, you&rsquoll have enough to make quite a few meals. You can easily freeze some of it for later.

2. Southwestern Casserole

Imagine chicken casserole done Tex-Mex style. This mildly spicy dish is easy to divide into meal-sized portions on the freezer. You can even grab a portion to take to work and cook in a microwave.

3. Jambalaya

The classic spicy Cajun stew. That same page also has a wonderful recipe for Tomato Basil Tarts.

4. Breaded Beef

Turn a less expensive cut of meat into a real treat. It&rsquos like breaded veal, except it&rsquos beef.

5. Ham and Lentil soup

Delicious, cheap and good for you (okay, not everyone will agree about the ham, but the lentils are definitely good for you). This tomato based soup is hearty and has lots of healthy fiber from the lentils.

6. French Toast Sticks

Kids can heat and serve these themselves. This is another great one for grabbing out of the freezer and heating up quickly.

7. Pancakes

Make your own microwavable pancakes. It&rsquos easy to serve in the morning, even when you&rsquore rushed.

8. Six-bean casserole

With spicy barbecue sauce and pepperoni. This recipe works great as a side or an entree.

9. Crockpot pulled pork

Combine it with BBQ sauce or put it in soup. Keep this on hand to add some meat to all kinds of meals.

10. Bacon-Wrapped Chicken

Freeze them uncooked, and cook as you need them. It&rsquos like having microwaveable appetizers on hand, except you know exactly what&rsquos in them.

11. Lasagna Rolls

Another one kids can heat and serve. These make a great lunch or snack, or even a light meal.

12. Tomato Ground Beef Mix

A handy starter. You can serve this on tacos, over rice, or even over pasta as a meat sauce.

13. Chicken, Quinoa and Corn stew

Full of savory flavors, this recipe uses quinoa, which has more protein than the more traditional rice. This hearty stew makes a great meal, all in one dish.