Guest post by Peter Minkoff. See the author’s bio and contact info below the post.
For those of us who love to cook, learning new skills and techniques is a fun and interesting activity. By improving our meals and recipes we get to explore new flavors, create layered dishes and most of all, fully enjoy the fruits of our labor. The last one being crucial for all foodies. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you master some of the most important cooking skills and prepare some fun and tasty meals while you’re doing it!
Sharpen Your Knife Skills
There is no better dish for learning how to improve your knife skills than a mixed summer salad. You have your onions, your tomatoes, your peppers and a lot more vegetables in dire need of slicing. But, first thing’s first – get your tools in order.
Your chef’s knife needs to be sharp with a long, wide blade and only then are you ready to go. Make sure you have a cutting board, preferably wood as it is a healthier option.
Now for the technique. You need to have a firm grip, so make sure that you put your thumb and the side of your index finger onto the side of the blade right above the handle.
As for your helping hand, its ideal position is called the bear claw, with the fingertips curled under and knuckles pressing down on the vegetables to keep them from rolling. After all the slicing is done, you can season the salad with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon zest, salt is optional.
Incorporate Trendy Ingredients and Techniques Into Your Existing Recipes
It is always a good idea to work on improving your current recipes. Luckily there are a lot of great online resources. If you want to get the hottest new trends into your kitchen you should start following the latest news from the cooking and cocktail-making world like this NYC food blog run by one of the most renowned catering companies in New York. And let’s face it, there is no hipper food scene than the one in the Big Apple.
So in order to improve your cooking skills, try implementing some of the trends into your dishes. You can opt for the new twist on the ever popular clips, something in the lines of watermelon radish clips with smoked sable and horseradish cream.
Master Your Ingredient Selection
Yes, believe it or not, this is also a skill. Knowing how to create delicious meals is just half of work. Picking the right ingredients is what makes them tasty and elevated. All of your cooking skills go right out the window if you have chosen the wrong ingredients.
For example, when you buy an avocado make sure that it is ripe. You can easily check this by gently squeezing it with the tips of your fingers as a ripe avocado will yield to firm gentle pressure in the palm of your hand.
You should also pay attention to salt usage. Opting for sea salt or low sodium salt can significantly alter your recipe. So if you use this kind of substitution, create several test dishes until you get the taste just right.
Use Your Pans Correctly
So many delicious dishes are prepared in a pan, but using a pan properly can be a tricky thing. In order to master the pan game, there are several things to keep in mind. First and foremost do not overcrowd it – too much food in the pan lowers its temperature. Make sure you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir.
Another important tip – switch to a ceramic pan. It’s the healthiest because you need less grease and the food cooks faster. However, make sure you use silicone utensils and most importantly don’t get too comfortable when you’re cooking. If not regularly checked, food can burn even in the best of pans.
A few great meals to test your pan skills are chicken curry, hummus, and my favorite – a simple cheese omelet.
Get To Know Your Acids
Knowing the right time to add acids is crucial for a tasty meal. Whether it’s vinegar or citric acid, you have to learn exactly when to add them. For example, a lot of savory foods benefit from a light touch of acid. You can try adding a little red wine vinegar to a beef stew or lemon juice to mayonnaise, just before serving.
It’s always a good idea to squeeze lemon juice into a fruit puree or fruit salad just to get that flavor to pop. This last-minute splash of acid can make a world of difference taste-wise.
There you have it, five absolutely delicious steps to improving your cooking skills.