They say all you need is one signature dish. Whether it be pasta, chicken, noodles, or a salad – you are what you eat and you eat what you cook. The important thing about cooking is to remember it is extremely methodical and an outlet for creativity. Sometimes you won’t even notice the errors you make along the way. Consider the small mistakes you make each time and how small actions can improve your food. We’ve collected some of the biggest mistakes from leading experts and how to avoid them. Next time you’re buying produce for a dinner party, consider these tips.
You Don’t Pre-Heat
Getting home from work hungry may make you question the long process of pre-heating your oven. The torturous experience can seem like a cruel test when all you want to do is throw in your dish to eat it right away. In fact, by not preheating your oven you run the risk of undercooking your meat – or cooking it unevenly. This can ruin your meal or make you sick. From now on, make sure to turn it on and wait a few minutes – you can get going on cutting some vegetables while you wait.
You Sweep and Dip Flour
When measuring the amount of flour you need, there’s a common urge to simply scoop the amount from the bag into your measuring cup. While it may not feel like such a monstrous act, you risk collecting far more than you need and ruining your baked goods. Next time, all you need to do it scoop it lightly with a spoon and level it off at the top. This won’t attract additional flour and won’t make your cake too heavy. It’s all about density management!
You Overfill Your Pan And Stir Too Much
Food can drastically change size when you cook it, and so it is a common mistake to sometimes prepare too much pasta or not enough sauce. It’s important to have a little patience and measure out how much food you need ahead of time and not rely on guesswork. Also, stirring too much may feel like you’re avoiding burning, but it can actually reduce some of the delicious crispiness you want in some of your dishes. Patience is a virtue!
You Don’t Rest Your Meat
How many times have you snuck a cheeky bite of grilled meat before setting it on a serving plate next to its salad? It is awfully tempting but it can prevent you from enjoying most of the meat you have just cooked. By letting it sit for a few moments, you not only let it cool down a bit – the juices actually have a chance to redistribute along the meat and add to the flavor. When cutting freshly cooked meat, the juices flow out and leave your delicious steak!
You Rinse Your Meat
It might appear that rinsing your meat will ensure you get rid of some of the slime and dirt that’s on your chicken or turkey when you buy it. In reality, it adviced not to wash it under water when you prepare your dish. There is a chance you could contaminate your sink with the bacteria on it and make your kitchen a germ haven. Better yet, pat down your meat with paper towels and remove any dirt with that instead. It is a strong insurance from sickness you might collect from dirty water.
You Use Nonstick Pans On High Heat
Always make sure to reduce the heat when you use nonstick pans while you cook. They carry protective PFCs which can burn and release toxic fumes which are poisonous, not to mention a tragic addition to your spices. Exposure to these could cause liver damage or developmental problems, and no insurance policy will cover that! Next time you cook, check with the pan manufacturer what the appropriate cooking temperature is and stick to wooden or rubber utensils for your stirring.
You Keep Acidic Food In Reactive Pans
Science geeks, rejoice! Finally, that boring class in 8th Grade will pay off 20 years later while you cook. You might have learned that aluminum is often used when cooking because it is a strong conductor of heat. However, it isn’t so good to eat and can ruin your food. By cooking your food in a reactive device, like an aluminum pan, can erode the metal and leave some metal on your dish. It is better to cook with a non-reactive device – such as steel or glass – when cooking with acidic foods in particular. It is best to undergo some kitchen management to organise your dishes in the appropriate manner.
You Overcook Vegetables
This one is easy to do if you are also cooking slow items such as thick pasta or cooking chicken all the way through. Some vegetables, such as spinach or broccoli, instantly cook and shrink when putting them in the pan – while mushrooms or onions last longer being cooked. Make sure to take note of when to add certain vegetables to your pan and time it accordingly. Time management is an important policy to follow when mixing meats and veggies!
You Blend Hot Liquids
We’re sure that if you’ve ever blended hot liquids in your kitchen, and caused them to explode all over the place, you would rush to do it again. The difference between blending hot and cold liquids results in built-up pressure from the heat created from the liquid. It causes the tops of blenders to literally ‘blast off’ and cause a catastrophic mess. Yeah, science! Prevent this by waiting for the liquid to cool down (if possible) or remove the stopper and cover the top hole with a towel to let the heat escape.
You Put Pyrex Dishes Under the Broiler
These pans are great when you want to make a casserole, but you should always make sure to use a metal pan if what you are cooking needs broiling. Regardless of how long you are cooking for, you should really start removing this habit from your cooking policy. Pyrex pans aren’t made to withstand heat from broilers and will break if exposed to too much heat. If that happens, you’ll have more than just your dish to clean up – but shattered glass everywhere!
You Overmix Batter
It’s easy to overmix your batter when you bake since you want your flour, sugar, butter, and any other items well combined. However, when you overmix, you can cause gluten to form within the flour ultimately making your baked items too tough. This simple mistake could ruin the final product and so it’s better to avoid it all together, keeping stirring to a minimum. Next time, make it a policy to gently mix all your ingredients together until the batter is the same, then put it down!
You Don’t Keep A Timer
We understand that cooking should be an enjoyable and creative experience, but at what cost? Sometimes, you will need to abide by a few of the cooking rules to establish editable dishes. Make sure your pasta isn’t undercooked or your steak is overcooked by keeping track of some of the basic cooking times. Of course, you should and can leave time to experiment with spices and additions – but get the core right first and work from there.
You Use Too Much Salt
We all love salt and most dishes benefit from a sprinkle of every so often. However, it won’t just make you thirsty but also it’s not so healthy in large doses. Learn to curb your salt intake – particularly if you can control it! You’ll be getting plenty of salt from dishes you order at lunch or dinner, as well as in the food you purchase from supermarkets. Withholding from salt will also offer you the chance to experiment with other spices – your health insurance premiums will also go down!
You Add Too Much Water To Rice
Cooking rice is different from pasta – the measurements must be carefully planned and adjusted according to how much rice you are cooking. If you add too much water while cooking the effects could result in soggy rice that ruins the texture and dish. Next time you cook rice, make sure to carefully measure the rice and water – you might just save your risotto!
You Don’t Sift Flour
Flour is such a soft and light powder it can be easy to forget just how important it is to sift. By ignoring this quick addition to your cooking routine, you will get lumps in your batter, sauce, or gravy. No one likes lumpy items – particularly if they shouldn’t be lumpy – and will be worth it to sift to manage the texture. If you come across lumpy goods, throw it in a blender to smooth it out and make it digestible. You might be cooking for guests who definitely won’t forget about it.
You Don’t Grease The Pan
Another short-term investment with longlasting results. If you don’t grease the pan before you place your mixture into it you risk it sticking and de-shaping after it is cooked. You don’t want to put all the effort into preparing and mixing a unique batter only to have it ruined after 30 minutes in a sticky pan. You’d have to serve it chopped up in pieces – ruining the Instagram photo. Next time, be sure to rub a bit of grease into the pan and the baked cake will slip right out.
You Ignore Parchment Paper
It might be an easy item in your kitchen to ignore, but a lack of parchment paper might have drastic effects on your cookies. Without a line of paper in the oven, your baked goods could either stick to the grill in the oven or fall through the cracks entirely. It’s always better to invest a bit of time and money into the paper. This new habit will save your food in the long run and make you a much better baker overall.
You Cook Cold Meat
Just like the importance of bringing the oven to its appropriate temperature before cooking, the same can be said for meats. It’s very tempting to quickly take your steak or chicken out the fridge at the last minute to throw on to the pan, but this will cause it to cook unevenly. Make sure to plan ahead and leave your meat sitting at room temperature before you cook it – it will make it tastier and ensure that it is cooked evenly.
You Go Low Fat
Yes, we’re counting this as a mistake – you can thank us later! Cooking that is completely void of fats isn’t necessarily a good way to plan a meal to lose weight. Our bodies require certain ‘good’ fats for a healthy diet and so you should always consider including them in your diet. This is equally important if people adopt their own policies when cooking at home. Think avocados, salmon, oils, and nuts. The management of these foods incorporated into a healthy diet will work wonders on your waistline.
You Overcook Pasta
It’s easy to overcook pasta. We leave it boiling in the pot for the necessary time and can easily lose track and focus on other things while we wait. Even though we stir, it’s possible to burn pasta if not drained at the right time. Burnt pasta will be soggy and ruin the whole meal, so it’s always wise to keep a timer for insurance and make sure you drain it in time.
You Store The Wrong Items In The Fridge
It’s very normal to store items in your fridge when you haven’t quite finished with them. Some items are ok in the short term, but others actually rot more easily and quickly if stored in cool areas. Did you know you should never store tomatoes in the fridge? They’re just some of the fruits and other vegetables you should store outside. To see our full list, click on our article about it linked here.