Random Cooking Tips
I really should read, start-to-finish, a few different cooking books. I've read bits and pieces of Alice Water's "The Art of Simple Food" and Thomas Keller's "ad hoc at home" and run into some pretty interesting concepts (Thomas Keller does a better job of pointing them out in, what he calls, "lightbulb moments"). I've also been watching a ton of celebrity chef and amateur chef videos on YouTube. So, I've learned some random assortment of tricks that I'm going to brain-dump down. This is going to be a little link heavy, but I'll try to explain as I go.
- There's an easy way to finely chop an onion. Basically, you halve the onion. Then, make long slices nearly, but not through, the root. Then, you make a few cuts with your knife parallel with the cutting board into the middle of the onion. Then, you chop the onion up.
- Let meat come to room temperature before cooking it. Generally, let meat sit on the counter, seasoned, for at least an hour before cooking.
- Let meat rest when you're "done" cooking (ideally for as long as you cooked it). First, it's still cooking because it's hot. Second, it keeps its juices better.
- If you've got a large cut of meat that you're browning, it's best to move it to different parts of the pan when you turn it because those parts are still hot (they weren't cooled by the meat).
- Fat-soluable nutrients in fruits and veggies may not get absorbed if you don't add a fat to them. So, not only can some olive oil make your salad taste better, it can also make it healthier. (see Jamie Oliver making Pork Escalope)
- You can pan-roast and then steam veggies and they taste pretty good. You basically pan roast in olive oil. Then, throw in about a cup of water with garlic and salt in it and cover.
- If you make herbed butter for meat (say, turkey), consider using salted butter or salting the butter.
- If you make herbed butter to stuff under loosened turkey skin, you might consider refrigerating it a bit if you got the butter too warm and melty.
- It's easy to take a pan off a burner.
- It's hard to cook something well if you don't know what it's supposed to taste like. That can be difficult with something relatively foriegn (I'm having some difficulty with my Bok Choy).
- French cooking has a concept of "mise en place" -- which is just French for "putting in place". Basically, get organized before you start cooking. All of that stuff you see on chef shows where the spices are pre-measured in little dishes, the pots and pans are already out, vegetables are already cut, and the recipe has been read-through and is accessible so that nothing comes as a surprise or causes a delay during the cooking process.
- Create a schedule for large meals (i.e. Thanksgiving dinner). Mine have spanned multiple days and had times when I needed to be doing something so I didn't get lost in the timing while I was cooking.