If in doubt, add an egg. The 10 cooking tips everyone should know | Felicity Cloake

Great cooks disregard the oven dial and never apologise. This bank holiday rapidly brush up your culinary abilities, with these five-minute hints

The vaguely illicit thrill of days like today, the delicious guilt of a Monday morning free from screaming alarms and awful commutes, results many of us to overcompensate by making the bank holiday an opportunity for personal admin the chance to finally put up those images, weed the garden or go for a much-needed run. All of these, it must be admitted, are worthy activities deserving of commendation. Theyre also a shameful waste of a precious day off.

Assuage your conscience by honing your culinary abilities instead at least that route you can enjoy the fruits of your labors with a large glass of wine, which is certainly not something that can be said of an afternoon expend clearing out the gutters. The University of California has created a helpful list of kitchen myths advice youve probably heard a thousand times but which is actually positively unhelpful but after seven years perfecting recipes for this newspaper, making at least six versions of the same dish every week, Ive picked up a few pearl of wisdom along the way. These are my top 10 tips for improving your cooking in less than five minutes 😛 TAGEND

1) Knives dont sharpen themselves

The easiest thing you can do to become a better cook is invest in a knife sharpener, and learn how to use it. Not merely are sharp knives safer, because theyre least likely to slip off the food and on to your tender flesh, but they make chopping so much quicker and more efficient that youre likely to find yourself imbued with a renewed enthusiasm for the likes of stir fries and ratatouille.

2) Fire entails flavour

Roasted
Start roasts in a very hot oven.

Or at least, heat does. Start roasts in a very hot oven, sear steaks in a smoking pan, roasted veggies rather than simmering or steaming them, and youll find they take on a more intense flavour thanks to the caramelisation of the sugars on the outer surfaces.

3) Oven dials are merely a rough guide

Trust your senses instead. New cooks often worry unnecessarily about whether the figures in a recipe are for a fan or conventional oven without realising that their own is very unlikely to be at the temperature it claims in any case most run hot or cold, and you wont know which until youve chewed your route through a fair few burnt lasagnes or raw cakes. Its far safer to use the temperatures and timings in a recipe as a ballpark figure, and rely on your eyes and nose to judge when something is actually ready if that loaf still looks a bit pallid after 25 minutes, dont take it out of the oven merely because the recipe tells you to.

4) Patience is a virtue

Father
Let cakes cool down before trying to ice them.

Whatever the recipe asserts, your onions wont caramelise in about 10 minutes and your risotto wont be ready in 15, so put on some music and accept the fact that great food takes time. The same runs for resting meat before serving, letting cakes cool down before trying to ice them and so on.

5) Attempt out bones

Meat and fish cooked on the bone will always have a deeper, more interesting taste than the equivalent fillets, and stocks made from bones will not only add flavors to your soups and sauces, but richness: a good stock should have a slightly wobbly consistency at room temperature thanks to the gelatine content( dont worry, it will melt when you heat it up ).

6) Free spirits eat well

Bowl
But baking is an exact science.

Dont be a slave to the words on the page. If you detest parsley, dont set it in merely because the recipe told you so; replace a herb “youd prefer”.( Trust me, the sky is highly unlikely to fall in because you tear a few basil leaves over your minestrone instead .) That said, be wary of tweaking cake and bread recipes: baking is an exact science, and the higher moisture content of muscovado sugar, for example, as opposed to caster might stop your cake from rising properly.

7) Savour as you go

A good cook will always have an oversupply of teaspoons at hand to check things are on track, and proper the seasoning as necessary. Sending out a dish without tasting it first is madness, even if that entails checking the balance of flavours in a raw cake mix.

8) Homemade is not necessarily better

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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