Nobody is born a kitchen pro, even Jamie Oliver had to earn his stripes. So we’ve developed some great tips designed to improve your cooking skills.
1) Cooking Pasta
Pasta can easily become stodgy and starchy if cooked improperly (a bit like bad school lunches), so many people are put off preparing it at dinner time.
To avoid this, fill your pan with double the water to cover the pasta and add a little salt. If you want, add a glug of olive oil too. Bring the water to boil and carefully drop your pasta in. For dried pasta, cook it for 10 to 12 minutes to prevent that well-known stodgy taste.
Fresh pasta and gnocchi should only be cooking for a few minutes. When fresh parcels have risen to the surface of the water, this means that they’re ready to be served. Always remember that different shapes require slightly different cooking times, so always check the pasta packet beforehand and you’ll become a cooking pro!
2) Chopping Onions
Onions fit nicely into plenty of recipes, so it’s good to know how to prepare them properly and quickly.
First of all, cut off the stem so that you’ve created a flat part of your onion. The root side should be kept intact, which can be easily identified by the wispy strands that grow from it!
Then you should place the onion down on the flat side you’ve just created, and slice it in half through the root. At this point, peel off the outer layers of brown (or purple) onion skin.
Now you’re ready to lay the two halves of your onion down and slice them as you wish. At the end, chop off the root and add the onion to your dish.
3) Boiling Rice
It may seem like a basic task but rice can become very mushy and unappealing without proper preparation. Getting rice perfect and fluffy is certainly a skill.
Always bear in mind that rice usually doubles in size once it’s cooked, so add what seems to be half a portion for each person. Next, rinse the rice so that most of the starch is removed – this will prevent the “rice pudding” look, which you certainly don’t want if it’s accompanying a nice curry or chili con carne.
As you boil the rice, use just enough water to cover it and maintain a gentle heat. One fairly safe method is to use one cup of water for every half-cup of rice. Either way, make sure you don’t overcook it by having a taste every couple of minutes. If the rice seems just right, take it off the heat and drain. Finally, rinse it again through a sieve before serving to ensure that all of the stodginess is removed.
4) Making Gravy
Everyone loves gravy with their Sunday roast; getting it just right can make your meal extra special.
When cooking your meat and vegetables, take the juices from the roasting tin and add them to your favourite stock or gravy granules. As you remove the juices from the roasting tin, try to scrape the bottom so that you get the most flavoursome bits in your gravy.
It’s always a good idea to remove the fat so it’s easy to serve. Add a couple of ice cubes to your pan towards the end and the fat should cling to them making it easier to remove.
When you’ve done this, try adding some extras that will make your gravy special. Some people like to add a little cooked veg – for example, an onion or some mushrooms. Adding a bit of soy sauce can also give it a great tangy flavour.
5) Melting Chocolate
Baking with chocolate can be great fun but keeping the texture smooth and luxurious can be difficult.
Your dish will only be as good as your ingredients, so buy some really good-quality, bittersweet chocolate.
Chop it into rough chunks so that it can be melted quickly and easily. Next, gently heat a small pan containing a few inches of water. Place a well-fitting, heat-proof bowl on top of the pan and add your chocolate to it. Maintain a low heat and stir frequently to avoid lumps or burning until your chocolate has completely melted.
Do You Have Any Kitchen Tips to Share with Us?
If you have any great cooking tips that we haven’t mentioned, we’d love to hear about them. Tweet us and tell us how you’ve perfected your skills in the kitchen!