Cooking is a passion of ours, and we enjoy spending time together in the kitchen. Believe it or not, every one of us makes simple, avoidable kitchen mistakes. As a result, our recipes do not come out the right way. Here are the most common offenses:
1. We don’t read the entire recipe first. You search the web or a cookbook for a recipe and you see that picture that makes your mouth water, you decide to create the masterpiece for your family. You start cooking without reading the entire recipe prior to starting. You get down to step 4 and it tells you to use a springform pan and you dig through the cupboards to realize you don’t have one. Yikes!
Always read the recipe completely to make sure you have all the ingredients and cooking tools you need.
2. Cooking on HIGH isn’t a way to rush the meal. We all lead busy lives. When we are in a rush to get dinner on the table, we think that cooking on HIGH is going to cook our food faster. Yes it does, but does it cook it thoroughly and correctly? Most of the time, the answer is no.
Remember: cooking on HIGH should be used to boil water and that’s about it.
3. We cook meat and then cut it too quickly. You go to the butcher and buy that expensive cut of meat for that special dinner. You get home, set the table, get the side dishes prepared, and throw that expensive filet on the grill. You use a meat thermometer and cook it to the perfect temperature. You take it off the grill and put it on the plate with the fabulous side dishes you made. You cut into the steak and look down, only to find it floating in a pool of red, watery juice; it has seeped into your food and the steak is now dry. Dinner ruined. When you cook meat (especially on the grill), you need to let the meat rest on a plate or cutting board. Resting the meat will allow the juices soak in and help keep it moist. When cooking a rib roast or larger cut of meat, letting it rest longer (up to 20 minutes) will help assure its moistness.
Let meat sit for at least 5 minutes to preserve its great, juicy flavor that will not run all over your side dishes.
4. We use low-fat milk and expect it to behave like heavy cream. When you are making a cheese sauce, cream sauce, or anything that requires a dairy product and you want to use low-fat (or fat-free) milk, you need to make sure to keep the heat lower in order for it to thicken. Heating low-fat milk too quickly will cause it to “break” and separate, ruining your dish. If you are using heavy cream, it is more forgiving and you can heat it a little quicker to keep a nice “tight” sauce.
When choosing a low-fat dairy option, be patient. Keep the heat on low to medium.
5. Overcrowding. When you host a dinner party do you want your guests crammed into a small space? Of course not. Well, the same is true with cooking. When frying or sautéing, the temperature of the oil must stay constant. When you place too much food in the pan at one time, it forces the temperature of the pan to drop rapidly. This in turn allows the food to sit in oil and act as a sponge absorbing the oil and making it greasy.
Use a large pot or pan or cook less food at one time. This will make for a much better tasting product (and even a bit healthier).