5 Basic Steps to Cooking
Cooking is one of those things that we have to do whether we want to or not. Generally people either love it or they hate it. Eating is essential and there is nothing more satisfying than to prepare a meal or make a dessert, then hearing everyone rave about how delicious it is.
Having an interest in learning how to cook is a good beginning. Also, don’t be afraid it might not turn out. One thing I’ve learned is that to perfect a recipe sometimes takes more than one try.
I am all about modifying recipes to make them my own and add things that I think would make a recipe taste better.
Being creative is possible as long as the main ingredients stay in the recipe. If you are substituting make sure the substitute is acting as the same purpose as the original ingredient in the recipe.
For example, if the recipe calls for sour cream it is safe to use creamy plain Greek yogurt in its place. This will work because they are similar in consistency and flavor.
I am a neat and organized cook and do not like cleaning up a big mess at the end so before I start cooking I fill the sink with warm soapy water for wiping up and cleaning the used dishes. Also, sometimes you will need to use a measuring cup or spoon more than once and it will need to be cleaned.
As I use an ingredient I put it back in the cupboard. When I am finished my cooking project there is very little clean up. I either wash the dishes I’ve used by hand or I put them in the dishwasher. I like to wash the dishes while I am waiting for my creation to cook.
There are a few tips to follow that will help make your cooking experience go smoothly.
1. First, decide what recipe you would like to try. Make sure you have all the ingredients you will need beforehand.
Turn on the oven to the temperature the recipe recommends and wait until the oven reaches the desired temperature before putting your pan in the oven. If your oven tends to cook hot I would recommend reducing the heat by 25 degrees. You can check by inserting an oven thermometer.
(I rarely cook anything over 350 – 375 degrees, even if the recipe says to). I do not have luck with recipes cooked at higher temperatures (350 degrees is the temperature I like, of course there are exceptions).
2. Secondly, I read through the recipe. I then put the ingredients required on my cooking area. I get my measuring cups and measuring spoons in the sizes I will need, as well as the bowls I will be using.
I also prepare my baking pan with oil or butter and sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons of flour in the bottom and tap it around to make sure the whole surface of the bottom and sides of the pan are covered with the flour. I then shake any excess flour into the sink.
This will ensure your creation does not stick to the pan and is able to be removed easily from the pan. It is important to let your dish cool for 20 – 30 minutes before removing it from the pan.
If you have baked squares, cutting them while they are still warm is easier. Let them cool for 10 – 15 minutes first before cutting.
The consistency of your baking will be smoother and without lumps. Pour the dry into the wet, and then mix them together. Usually the recipe will specify this in the cooking instructions, but if it doesn’t this is the general rule.
4. Make sure you turn on the timer for the oven after you put the pan in the oven. I set it 5 minutes before the recipe cooking time recommends. This will prevent overcooking or if you need more time you can reset the timer for the remaining 5 minutes.
Also, it is a good idea to check the oven a time or two during the duration to ensure it is cooking properly. When you see it is cooking well it will give you confidence that your recipe will turn out and taste delicious.
I have found that if you try to multitask while you are cooking the chances of overcooking or burning is more likely to happen. Make sure you stay within ear shot of the timer. Overcooking is the most common reason recipes do not turn out properly.
5. If your cake, pie, or dessert (whatever you are cooking), is getting too brown on the top and it is not yet completely cooked. Put a sheet of tin foil over the top so it will not continue to brown but the inside will continue to cook.
When you take the pan out of the oven you can stick a toothpick in to check for doneness. If it is gooey, then you need a couple more minutes for cooking. If it comes out easily your recipe is cooked.
I hope this article has helped you in very practical ways and given you enough confidence to start cooking.
You never know there might be a Chef lurking inside! 🙂