How much we might love going out to eat, sometimes there’s just nothing better than a big cooking session at home. Hanging around the dining table with friends, long after your last bite until the last bottle of wine is finished. We prefer to spend a lot of time cooking during the weekends because cooking during the week, who’s got time for that?! People who are able to do this, good job! For us amateur cooks, we’ve listed the 10 most common cooking ‘mistakes’ we tend to make. So we can all get a bit better in the kitchen (and to impress your date) (via Cool Material).
1. Mixing up measuring cups for liquid and solid ingredients
Before the less amateur cooks start commenting: yes, technically speaking measuring cups for liquid ingredients measure the same way for solid ingredients. Nevertheless, they differ when it comes to design. The ‘scooping’ cups, which you can use for flower can be filled right up to the nock so you can wipe off excessive residue. This isn’t possible with a measuring cup for liquid ingredients. Don’t mix it up.
2. Not adding salt when cooking pasta
We don’t need many words to explain this ‘mistake’ because it’s just plain #fakenews. We base this statement on extensive research (watching all seasons of Chef’s Table, Nigella Bites and The Naked Chef) and some Googling. Any Italian will tell you that pasta just tastes better when cooked in salt. Mama Mia! This way it doesn’t matter how good your homemade sauce is, the paste will miss its taste. How much salt? That is another question as it differs for each recipe.
3. Sticking to olive oil
Guilty! When starting a meal we almost unintentionally start by pouring some olive oil in a pan. Why?! There are so many more options in the supermarket when it comes to oils. For example, chicken and turkey are best cooked in peanut-oil because it is better resistant to high temperatures. Take a look at the ‘smoke points’ of different oils (wiki) to decide which ones are best for your meal.
4. A fun but overcrowded party in your pan
Cooking costs time and this means you’ve got to have patience. This isn’t such a big problem but as soon as you start making shortcuts by, for example, tossing all your ingredients in one pan it will soon end in a disaster. One type of vegetable needs cooking time X while others need a lot longer or shorter. Result? Everything ruined for good. The same goes for meat when making, for example, a stew. Instead, it’s best to cook everything in batches in order for it to stay tender. There’s enough time for a party afterwards!
5. Heat doesn’t stop when switching off the stove
This is a common mistake for us. We’ve just fried a gorgeous piece of biological meat to leave it lying in a hot pan while pouring wine and setting the table. Result? A piece of tough meat which calls for a saw. It’s not just the pan that stays warm but also the stove after switching off the fire. Therefore, it’s best to wrap the fried piece of meat in aluminium foil, to keep it warm and tender as the juices can slowly return.
6. Being afraid of acid
There’s nothing scary about acid even though it took us some time to find that out the hard way. Instead, it can really make a meal come to life. Often we instantly use salt when a meal tastes a bit dull but this doesn’t always help. Instead, you can use a bit of fresh lemon or red wine vinegar, you name it!
7. Cutting up vegetables in different sizes
Sometimes we randomly transform into some kind of Jackie Chan when a cutting board appears and we have to chop our dinner vegetables. This is, however, a terrible idea for the end result. Just imagine creating homemade fries and you cut them up to be left with all different sizes. Boring!
8. Burning garlic
While some people use a bit too much salt too often, we tend to use loads of garlic. Pasta? Garlic! Quiche? Garlic! You name it and we add garlic. However, garlic can really ruin your meal at once. Often you need to add garlic at the start of a meal but this gives it the chance to burn. In case you’re not familiar with burned garlic, it tastes kind of like that tough piece of meat we described before but even worse.
9. Timing, timing and more timing
For those who find cooking easy peasy: good for you! For those who spend a bit more effort when cooking a good meal, remember it’s all about one important factor: timing. Timing and planning because you might have a good meal in mind but when your vegetables are ready in three minutes while the rest is only getting started, it won’t be a nice and fresh meal. It’s fine to prepare parts beforehand, especially when having friends over when the timing is crucial.
10. Using salt as seasoning only
As amateur cooks, we see salt primarily to make food, well, saltier. A different (and better) way of looking at salt is by using it to enhance flavour. For example, it’s no coincidence that caramel sea salt was ‘discovered’ since the salt enhances many flavours, which otherwise would have been dull. So next time you’re cooking keep in mind that salt will enhance all the magical flavours. Just don’t use too much!