Start off with simple & easy to follow recipes. We all need some help once in a while, so don’t be ashamed by following a recipe. Make sure that you follow exactly what the recipe tells you to do. The instructions are there for a reason. As you become a more seasoned chef, you will be more familiar with a dish and hopefully know how to improvise or change a recipe to fit your liking.
Know your ingredients. This goes for both ingredients on your recipe list and foods that are known to be a staple in household kitchens. Mind you, I FREAKED OUT over this concept at first. There’s just so many; there’s rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, cumin, ground mustard, cardamom, and the list goes on! How am I supposed to learn all these? Try to taste as many and seek out the ones that you like. Learn what these ingredients taste, smell, look, and feel like and decipher what they would go well with. As you become a pro in the kitchen, you will be able to improvise, change recipes, and even create your own.
Keep your cupboards stocked and recent. In the beginning stages of cooking, it may be likely that we wouldn’t have a full spice rack. Gradually build your supply and don’t just use them once. It will help you keep your creative juices flowing by always having something you can “whip up” and will keep your ingredients fresh. Just like every other food, dried ingredients lose their full flavor over time. A safe bet is that if a dried ingredient is over 6 months old, there’s no point in using it.
Experiment. Work it! Give yourself permission to fail several times. Burn stuff, make it too salty, whatever happens, is just fine. You are on your way to greatness if you allow yourself the learning opportunities. It will be a great feeling when you take something and make it your own and/or better. A little of this, a little of that and voila! It’s now your signature take on it. But if it’s your first or second time trying out a new dish, save the experimentation for later. You wouldn’t want to mess up something that may just be fine as is.
A pinch of this and a dab of that is fine for cooking. Not so much for baking. When it comes to cooking, we usually can add a little more or a little less of an ingredient and the dish won’t be ruined. Grandmothers around the world have gotten their recipes nailed, so they have no use for measuring exactly when they cook. Rather than a cup of this, a handful works much better, but when it comes to baking, you need to be exact. If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, then you better put in a cup of sugar if you want it to come out right.
Now, as I said, I am no expert in cooking, but I hope this post has been helpful for those of you who are currently rockin the Pop Tart dinners.
Dive in, make mistakes, and in the end, you’ll be a kick ass cook!