The kitchen appliance industry in the United States is a multi-billion dollar industry, according to StockAnalyst.com. Every year, Americans purchase new kitchen gadgets and appliances, from pressure cookers to stand mixers, all in the hopes that the appliance will make them better cooks. While kitchen gadgets can help simplify the cooking process, they do not transform the user into a gourmet chef. Fortunately, any home cook can learn a few simple techniques to improve their cooking skills.
Improve Your Sauces and Gravies
The first simple technique that a home cook can learn to elevate the quality of their meals is the making of gravies and sauces. The secret to making a restaurant-quality gravy or sauce is making a proper roux. A roux is a gravy or sauce base made with flour and a small amount of liquid. The roux not only thickens the sauce, it also flavors it. The kind of roux you make depends on the sauce or gravy you are trying to create. However, according to Bonappetit.com, to make a basic roux, heat the pan over medium heat and mix the flour with the liquid or fat until a thick paste forms. Then, cook the roux until it begins to brown slightly or for the amount of time specified by the recipe. Finally, add the water in a continuous stream while whisking constantly. Follow the recipe to complete the gravy or sauce.
Learning the appropriate knife skills is another way to improve your cooking. Many home cooks aren't aware of the correct way to cut up their ingredients, and the result is injury or chunks of food that are of uneven size. When ingredients are cut up irregularly they do not cook evenly, and you may have some chunks of raw food and some that are overcooked. In addition, all ingredients should be cut to a uniform shape and size in order to maximize the effect of the dish’s presentation. To learn how to use a knife correctly, visit the TLC website for informative tips.
Many home cooks neglect to pay attention to the temperature of their food as they cook. As a result, they turn the grill or stove up too high, which can burn the outside of the food while leaving the inside raw. Professional chefs know that the key to cooking many foods, especially larger pieces of meat, is to cook it slowly and at a low temperature. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of meat as it cooks to prevent serving raw or overcooked food.
Another easy way to prepare chef-quality dishes is to use fresh ingredients that are in season. It is tempting to make a strawberry fruit salad in the winter, but you will not have the same flavorful results as the fruit salad you tasted in Florida over the summer. Ingredients that are grown out of season or transported long distances to the supermarket are not as flavorful or attractive as fresh ingredients that are harvested in season.
Using Herbs and Spices
In addition, to cook like a real chef, learn to use herbs and spices correctly. Taste new herbs and spices to get a feel for the unique qualities of each. Add them slowly to your food to prevent over-seasoning the meal. You can always add more seasoning, but it is difficult to mask too much seasoning once it has been added.
Finally, remember that your diners feast with their eyes before they ever taste your food. Learn to present your food attractively on the plate. Use the appropriate garnishes, and wipe away any sauce or gravy that has spilled onto the side of the plate. For tips on how to plate food like a chef, visit the how-to-cook-gourmet website for a helpful tutorial.
[divider] This article was composed by Franklin Carpenter, a freelancer with an interest in fine cuisine, food and diet, nutritional science, cooking, fitness, general health and wellness, and other relevant issues. A good cook often relies on good utensils; to view a superior Meat Grinder for your cooking exploits click here.
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