Many people think cooking is a difficult task that only properly trained chefs with years of experience can do. The reality is, anyone can cook no matter what their skill level is. Even a beginning cook can create a fancy nine-course meal. The key to good cooking is good knowledge. The advice found in this article will help anyone of any level excel at cooking.

To successfully cook a meal you should always follow the recipe. This will assure you use the correct amount of each ingredient. Cooking is a science and each ingredient has its job. Leaving out an ingredient, putting too much of something, or cooking for too long can turn your dish into a disaster.

Understand that the smaller the item, the higher temperature that you are going to need to cook it. This will help to maximize the way that your food tastes during the meal. Cook your smaller foods at very high temperatures and larger foods at lower temperatures for the best results.

A depressed and sad woman in the kitchen

Ensure that your baked fish is moist and tender by cooking “en papillote”. This is a French technique that refers to fish baked in a parchment-paper packet. Place the fish and vegetables of your choice in the center of a large piece of parchment paper. Bring the edges of the paper together, crease them tightly to form a seal, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes at 450 degrees. The fish and vegetables steam in the packet, keeping them moist and tender, and creating a tasty, healthy dish. (Clean-up is just as easy – simply throw away the paper after eating!)

Cheese is one of the best things that you can add to pasta and different types of meats. If you are making pasta, do not forget to buy grated cheese and put it on the table for people to add to their dish. This will improve the quality and texture of the meal.

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A coffee grinder isn’t just for coffee. A coffee grinder actually works just as well as a food processor for some jobs. This is especially true with small jobs when you don’t want the trouble of lugging out a huge processor and then having to wash all the parts. Nuts and peppercorns grind perfectly in a coffee grinder, even sugar if you need a quick substitute for powdered sugar in a recipe.

Whenever possible, avoid canned ingredients in your cooking. They have numerous disadvantages. Canned food has lost vital nutrients that you want in order to cook the healthiest possible meals. They also taste different – if not downright worse – than fresh ingredients, potentially ruining your recipes. Finally, canned foods have unhealthy additives – especially extra sodium – that you do not need in your food.

If you are making pastries, you should try to maximize the accuracy of your measurements as it is a very exact science. By adding one gram too much or too less, you are going to put the taste of your pastry in jeopardy. Always try to be precise when baking.

For fluffier pancakes, allow the batter to sit for about five minutes before you start pouring it into the pan. This will allow the flour to absorb more of the moisture in the mix, making for much lighter pancakes that will rise more when you cook them and give them that great restaurant flavor!

Cook pasta for one minute less than instructed on the box and then place the pasta in a saucepan. By making pasta this way, the sauce will absorb into the pasta and the overall quality of your meal will be better. You can even add some spices to the saucepan.

When you are making fish or meat, make sure to sprinkle seasonings equally. You can compare the sprinkling to falling snow. By doing this, you are avoiding clumping. Also, the spices will be spread evenly so that one side of the meat or fish does not have more seasoning than the other.

One important tip to remember focuses on who you cook for rather than what to cook. If you are cooking for your boss, a date, or someone really important, try to refrain from testing out new recipes and new ingredients. You should refrain because you have not had a chance to test and perfect the recipe, which may result in cooking errors and unexpected results.

If you are stuck trying to figure out what to cook for dinner during the week, consider building your meals around themes. “Mexican Monday” could mean burritos or a nice taco salad. How about “Tuscan Tuesday” featuring spaghetti and meatballs or maybe meatball subs? And “Fish Friday” offers lots of options for shrimp, salmon or even tuna. Bring the whole family into the fun by letting the kids pick a theme and help plan the meal that day.

Many veggies and herbs have a scent that remains on cutting boards even after they are washed. Make a small mark with a marker on one side of your board to remind you which side is for sweet items and which is for sour.

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Replace your spices every six months at the very least. Often, spices that have sat on the shelf for a long period of time lose their pungency. If you know you will not use the whole spice bottle, give some of it to someone you know.

When preparing a pasta dish, you should add salt to the boiling water before adding the noodles. This helps to add flavor to the pasta while it is boiling. If you salt the pasta once it is cooked, you will not get as much flavor when you add the seasoning.

As stated above, cooking is not just a task that is limited to the best chefs with high culinary training. Anyone of any skill level can cook; the key to their success is proper cooking knowledge. If you follow the advice found in this article, you too can be a good cook.

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