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Burn your recipes cooking method secrets to improve your cooking tonight

Burn Your Recipes: 5 Cooking Method Secrets to Improve your Cooking Tonight

Recipes don’t really work.


  • Food products are not uniform. They are different sizes, textures, degrees of ripeness and firmness.
  • Kitchens (and cooks) do not all have the same equipment. Different pans use heat differently.
  • It is impossible to give exact instructions. “Medium” heat can vary as can “medium” onion.

Maybe “burning” your recipes is a bit extreme. It’s great to use recipes for ideas and as guidelines , but cook with your own observations and knowledge. This is what cooking with confidence is all about.  This is what helps the professionals make it look easy.

Keep some junk in your trunk.

There are many items you can keep in your pantry to give yourself an everyday cooking “head-start”. This is a key for cooking by method because you need readily available ingredients to cook. First, the goal is to have a good variety of some staples: rice, beans, spices, vinegars, oils, grains, pastas, tomato products, sauces, canned meat and fish, and a freezer full of protein standards (meats, chicken and fish). Then, when your pantry is stocked, you simply choose a protein, a flavoring, a cooking method, a side dish – cook – and dinner is done! It really is that simple when you understand cooking methods.

Stay on the cutting edge.

When you learn some basic knife skills your time spent in the kitchen is safer, more efficient and definitely more fun! Your dishes will be more consistently prepared, more evenly cooked and the finished results will have the advantage of consistent texture and great eye-appeal. In addition, being able to quickly prep lots of ingredients in advance, what the French call mise en place, enables you to get in and out of the kitchen fast. Whether you are cooking meat or making a salad, knowing how to use that knife — and which knife to use — is an important starting point.

Turn up the Heat (or not?).

A skilled cook anticipates the end result of their cooking procedure. How do they do this? They understand that differences in how heat is applied in cooking will dictate that end result. As food cooks, it rises through temperatures where changes take place. What those changes are depends on the type of food (meat, vegetable, fat, sugar, starch), the temperature and the method of heat being applied. Controlling heat and moisture is the key to a quality finished product that meets expectations.

Call Your Mother.
There are five «mother sauces» in cooking from which all sauce recipes are derived. What this means for your home cooking is that you can create a limitless array of sauces when you master the big five.  Simply take the basic sauce and add your own creativity with herbs, spices, cheese, vegetables – whatever’s in the pantry. Bechamel is the basic French white sauce made by stirring milk into roux. Veloute is a stock-based white sauce made by adding chicken (or other) stock to roux. Espagnole or brown sauce is a stock-based sauce. Vinaigrette is an oil-and-vinegar based sauce which is manually emulsified prior to serving. Finally, hollandaise sauce is made from egg yolks, butter and lemon juice to emulsify.

So go forth, empowered now to incorporate these 5 tips into your routine and start cooking by method today. Just by understanding these “secrets” you are well on your way to better, easier everyday cooking. Whether or not you burn your recipes is up to you.

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