Editor’s Note: We’re sharing these cooking tips, first published January 2021, to help spark a sense of confidence in your kitchen — no matter how experienced you are. cooking.
I miss a lot of things about the pre-pandemic world, but eating at restaurants is definitely in the top three. I miss sitting at the bar and sipping a cocktail. I remember sharing meals with friends and trying foods I might never have thought of at home.
However, if the pandemic has a big bright side, it’s that many of us have had to cope by trying out some restaurant creations in our own kitchens.
I have absolutely loved watching my friends and colleagues pick up a new hobby over the past ten months. My Instagram feed changed overnight from buzzing restaurant interior shots to countless daily home cooking successes. But despite all this new (albeit mandatory) inspiration, not everyone can simply turn on the stove and feel confident enough to make whatever recipe is trending that week.
The good news is, practice makes perfect. And you don’t even have to perfect all the ways to cook (baking is another story, but we’ll discuss that another time). A few simple cooking tips and techniques will make cooking faster, easier, and more enjoyable. Master these, and you’ll be able to cook just about anything.
That’s right — don’t just flip through their pages for tonight’s recipe. Keep them by your bed and read the next section, the recipes that sound appealing to you, and any descriptions of the technique. I also recommend looking for chefs who aren’t fussy when looking for cookbooks. Reading is only more fun when the author doesn’t take himself too seriously. Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables and Food Lab are great places to start.
Watch cooking shows on Netflix and YouTube.
Hard exercise, right? Great British Baking Show maybe more than a guilty pleasure. You can learn a lot from people who cook and bake more than you — from the mistakes they make to their successes. Not to mention, Paul and Mary often have some great tips and tricks to share.
I also recommend watching YouTube and Videos on Instagram created by chefs from different cultures. Many of us were raised in America by parents who spent the 80s and 90s making very similar beige dishes with the same technique. As you learn from other cultures, you will not only experience new foods but also new ways of cooking.
Recreate your favorite restaurant meals.
I don’t know about you, but I haven’t sat in a restaurant in months. And I miss it… so much. If you’re looking for inspiration for a delicious salad or weeknight dinner, look no further than the menu of your favorite restaurant. Look at the ingredients they use and guess the measurements. It may not be exactly the same, but it’s a good practice and can help build your intuition. Just don’t forget to support restaurants with some takeout. We want them to stay when this is over.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
One of my best friends is an incredible chef. I mean, unbelievable. I will never be as good as her.
I also hate baking. I watch people make beautiful cakes on Instagram and think, I should try that! Then I do, and it does absolutely nothing for me.
Food should be fun, and you should make things that you and your loved ones love to eat. If you can do that, you can consider your dish a great success.
Despite being a pretty competitive person, I’ve learned to let that into the kitchen. I like to cook for relief at the end of a long day, not as another stressful task. Food should be fun, and you should make things that you and your loved ones love to eat. If you can do that, you can consider your dish a great success.
Buy a good knife or two and sharpen them often.
Slicing fruits and vegetables with a dull knife can make any cook want to run away from the kitchen. You don’t need a whole set of knives to be a good chef. A good chef’s knife and paring knife will get you through most recipes. Others are just extra (and honestly don’t have to be expensive).
Warehouse your kitchen.
Cooking just got easier when you don’t have to run to the grocery store every day. We want the following on hand at any time so that when inspired, we can cook. We like to buy most of these in bulk at Costco.
Food: Lots of olive and canola oils, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, canned tomatoes, pasta, a variety of canned/dry beans, garlic, onions, bread and tortillas, canned anchovies, potato or sweet potato, honey, salt and pepper, red pepper, lots of dry spices, everything spiced bagels
Refrigerator/freezer: Avocado (refrigerate and room temperature), celery and carrots for soup, kalamata olives, various shredded/sliced cheeses, feta, lettuce, tomato, lemon
Learn to season your food correctly.
Salt and pepper are your best friends when it comes to cooking. You can make or break a dish with these two simple ingredients. Less spicy food is bland, while foreign dishes can taste too salty. Just remember these two tips: Taste food while it’s cooking — not just after it’s cooked. And you can always add more salt. It’s a lot harder to remove it from the disk.
Don’t worry if you don’t like it.
The only way to become more confident in your cooking is to make mistakes and learn from them.
To end a miserable year, the last dish I made in 2020 was a tiramisu. It took five hours, and it sucked. But now I know what happened and won’t let it happen again. The only way to become more confident in your cooking is to make mistakes and learn from them. That wealth of knowledge will build over time, and before you know it, you’ll often have to admire your friends and family.