We all like to think we can whip up at least one signature dish well, but when it comes to testing your skills in the kitchen, do you know what it takes to become a cook that gets it right every time? If you feel like the task of preparing a meal for friends, family, or even just yourself, isn’t always hitting the mark, even with a seemingly full proof recipe and the finest gadgets in front of you, then you may be making one of the common mistakes that many others do in the kitchen too. Think of it as troubleshooting in the kitchen, and instead of a faulty appliance, it’s you, the chef who is under review. If you have the feeling that you can do better when it comes to preparing some delicious cuisine, then fear not as it could be something quite simple that is letting you down. Believe it or not, there are plenty of common mistakes that us everyday cooks make in the kitchen, here are some of the more prevalent oversights and how to fix them.
Not seasoning your food enough
It’s one of the most basic elements in cooking and yet many cooks seem to misuse salt and pepper
It’s one of the most basic elements in cooking and yet many cooks seem to misuse salt and pepper. Providing you have a stylish and convenient pepper grinder to hand, don’t forget to actually use the gadget throughout your cooking – for style, ingenuity and ease of use, you will hard-pushed to find a better brand than Peugeot, who have been crafting their kitchen products in France for 147 years. Also don’t forget to taste your food, a good cook will know if there is a little too much or not enough of something if they have a strong sense of smell, but there’s nothing quite like sampling a sauce to see just what it might be lacking and building the flavours as you go.
Not preparing correctly
Making sure you pre-heat your oven for long enough as well as any required pots and pans is often something that gets overlooked, meaning that your timings will be all out once you start adding ingredients
This refers to not just your ingredients, but your appliances too. Making sure you pre-heat your oven for long enough as well as any required pots and pans is often something that gets overlooked, meaning that your timings will be all out once you start adding ingredients. And speaking of which, it’s always a good idea to have the onion chopped and the quantities pre-prepared – mise en place as the French call it – as well as meats, eggs and other ingredients at room temperature before cooking.
Whether you overcooked your steaks or a roast, dried-out beef isn’t a favorite of anyone
One thing people forget is that once food is removed from a heat source, it will continue to cook through slightly, especially so if still in a hot pan or tray. Cakes, bakes, meats and other chunkier items need to be cooled and rested before eating as they will still be gently cooking as they cool. Other ingredients such as pasta and vegetables often fall into the trap of being overcooked, so keep an eye on those pans!
Not using good enough quality ingredients
If you don’t already shop at your local butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers, then now is a good time to start
If you don’t already shop at your local butchers, fishmongers and greengrocers, then now is a good time to start. Not only will you be a more sustainable cook by doing this by reducing your food miles, but these ingredients will be supporting local businesses, farms and individuals while providing you with top-quality elements for your meals. At the heart of every plate should sit quality food from the start.
Substituting ingredients correctly and skipping corners
Never substitute lemon zest for lemon juice in a bottle
It’s all very well adapting a recipe to suit you, your available time and the ingredients you have available to you, but you will find that cutting certain corners really won’t work. If the recipe states to toast the nuts or seeds, really do toast them, it makes all the difference when it comes to taste and texture. Substituting lemon zest for lemon juice in a bottle? No, it won’t taste the same, and when it comes to flours and sugars, it is really important to use the exact type listed on the recipe if you’re looking for the perfect outcome that you so desire.
There are many small elements to your cooking that could be leading you in the wrong direction, but if you want to get a recipe right every time, then use the above as your go-to guide. Remember – quality ingredients, sufficient seasoning, pre-prepared ingredients and appliances, and the correct ingredients will not let you down.