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Developing impressive cooking skills is not as hard as you would think. Cooking is the perfect opportunity to refine skills, experiment with new techniques, and discover what dishes really suit your talents. By using these techniques, you will learn how to be a better cook and give you the opportunity to experiment with new ideas. Use this information to enhance your cooking abilities quickly and efficiently.

When you store your spices and herbs, keep them in a place that is cool and dark. Moisture, light and heat can affect the flavor of your spices. Do not expect your spices to last more than a year. Whole spices typically last longer than ground spices. Depending on the advice you’re reading, they can last from one to several years. In terms of lasting, remember it is the flavor of the spices that is usually the issue with the older spices losing their flavor. The color, fragrance and condition of the spice will often indicate its freshness. When stored properly, they will stay fresher longer.

Cooking with skewers can provide very beneficial if you use them properly. To get a better hold on the food, use a square or twisted type metal skewer.

Prepare to cook before you actually start cooking. Do not start cooking until the prep work is done. Sometimes even when the prep work is done, the deadline for when the meal must be completed can still loom large and become stressful. Do the prep work as early as you can to avoid stress later.

Finish your prep work in advance. You’ll be glad you have your prep work done when it’s time to cook. When you have a schedule as to how long you plan to be cooking, things can get a little stressful in the kitchen. Having as much prep work done as possible will save you both time and frustration!

It is extremely important to prepare your ingredients before you begin cooking your meal for a group. Double-check to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients. Put everything you need to cook the dish out the night before. Make sure you have all the cooking equipment and ingredients required. This will allay some of your fears and anxiety when it is time to cook the meal.

Slice Meat

If your recipe calls for slicing meat very thin, you can do this most easily by partly freezing the meat first. For Asian meals, such as Thai and Chinese dishes, this technique creates strips that are particularly ideal. Partially freezing meat keep the fibers in meat from stretching and tearing resulting in perfectly sliced strips. Allow the meat strips to completely thaw before you throw them in the cooking pan, so you can be sure that the strips all cook evenly.

If you need to slice meat into thin strips, then partially freeze it beforehand. Certain dishes require thin strips of beef, chicken or pork. It’s easier to slice meat that has been partially frozen because the fibers don’t tear and stretch, so you can make clean cuts. But, if you use this technique make sure that the meat strips thaw out again before you cook them.

Having sharp knives when you are cooking is very important. Blunt knives are frustrating to use and they can also be very hazardous. When you use a dull knife, you often have to force the blade through whatever you are cutting. Using a sharp knife is much easier and safer.

Adding cauliflower to your mashed potatoes is a great way to reduce the amount of fat and calories they contain. You should use equal portions of potatoes and cauliflower when making this delicious side. You will not taste the blandness of cauliflower, but notice a new interesting flavor instead. Additionally, cauliflower has the same texture and color as mashed potatoes, so it makes it an easy, healthy addition to your dish.

Airtight containers should be used when you are storing sugar, flour or baking mixes in your kitchen. You can protect your food from bugs and keep them fresher using an airtight container. These containers are widely available and are definitely worth the money.

Whatever you may be cooking, using fresh foods is always better than canned, dried, or frozen. Use any fresh ingredients that are available. They are not only tastier in general, but they also tend to be cheaper, as well.

Use vegetable or chicken stock to saute vegetables. The vegetables get flavor from the broth, and there is no need to use as much oil as it normally takes to saute them. This is a tasty way to cook your veggies.

Make your meal preparation go more quickly by preparing some of the ingredients ahead of time. Check recipes to find out what can be prepared ahead of time without risking spoilage. You can simplify the cooking process by doing your prep work well in advance. Prepping before you cook can make even advanced recipes fun and accessible.

Don’t take the bone out of a roast if you need to cook it quickly. The roast will get done sooner because the bone will direct the heat right to your roaster. After it is finished, simply avoid the bone as you cut the meat.

Burger patties often stick to the frying pan or grill during cooking and fall apart when you try to flip them. Try brushing vegetable oil on the cooking surface prior to cooking so that food does not stick.

Spices don’t last forever; replace them every 6 months. Quite often, spices pass their sell-by-date before you use them up, losing their flavor. If you purchase a new spice but doubt you can use it before the flavor dries up, share some of it with a fellow cook.

Airtight Containers

Make sure you follow directions to the letter whenever you make macaroni and cheese. The macaroni will be perfect once the cheese melts over the noodles. A solid serving spoon is an easy way to portion out your macaroni and cheese. Shake a little pepper on your macaroni to add some spice.

Store your dry goods, like sugar, flour, baking mix, and so forth, in airtight containers. Airtight containers will keep your foods safe from bugs, and allow them to stay fresh longer because they are not exposed to air. These can be bought at almost any store.

Do food preparations prior to cooking food. This allows you to economize on the amount of gas or electricity used when cooking, and keeps you from becoming distracted and accidentally getting injured by something like hot oil splashing out of a pan.

Soy products and beans are a wonderful place to get protein if you need to add some to your diet. They can be bought at pretty much any grocery store. Pan fried tofu, lightly sprinkled with your favorite seasonings, is a delicious substitute to meat. Boil the beans with herbs to make a tasty protein-filled dish.

If you’re going to be barbecuing, it’s a good idea to prepare your grill beforehand so that it’s already ready for you when you need it. Get your grill ready about half an hour before you want to put food on it. Your coals should be covered in ash and of a medium temperature. This is the perfect temperature to grill.

When you are cooking pumpkins, first stand the pumpkin upright and then cut it in half directly down the middle. Place each half on a baking sheet. Pour a little water on some baking sheets and bake the pumpkin for about 1 hour at 350 F.

Keep your seasonings in a cool, dark, moisture-free place. Exposing them to light or heat could make them lose their flavors fast. This will ensure your spices will not be as good to use.

You can add new flavors for your meals by trying different liquids when recipes ask for milk or water. Use chicken broth, beef stock or vegetable broth instead. If a recipe calls for milk, try using buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream. Adding different and interesting liquids to a recipe can help the dish become more interesting and nutritious.

Try fresh ideas for cooking with oysters. Oysters do not have to be eaten raw with a little lemon juice, there are many other ways you can make them. Place oysters that have already been opened in a broiler pan. Cover them with a small amount of cream. Sprinkle parmesan and pepper on top, and broil the oysters until they start bubbling. You could also try sauteing the oysters. The oysters can be dredged in a seasoned flour, then fried in butter for two minutes until they become golden brown. You can also bake oysters while in their shells. You place them in a casserole type dish, place a dollop of butter along with fresh breadcrumbs on top of each oyster, then bake them four or five minutes at 425 degrees. If the juices and butter are bubbling, serve with toasted baguette and when it’s hot.

Track how much cooking oil you use. Measuring amounts into a cup when cooking instead of pouring guess amounts straight from the bottle lowers the fat you put into your dish. This helps you to better monitor the amount of oil you are using.

Consider purchasing a stacking cooling rack. When making several batches of yummy cookies or other treats, the finished batches can use up all your counter space while cooling. Space can be better used if you incorporate racks for cooling that have multiple layers. Your cookies can cool on the rack, but you will still have full use of your kitchen surfaces.

If you’re overwhelmed with dinner prep for the family, try to do some food prep the night prior. Most anything that needs to be chopped, like vegetables, can be done the night before and marinating your meats overnight actually makes them even more delicious. With this done, you will have a major portion of the meal ready for the next step, which means less stress for you.

When cooking potato skins or twice baked potatoes, always use the kind with a thick skin such as a russet. Red potatoes are not ideal for a dense filling.

Try drying your own fresh tomatoes. Just slice them when ripe to about 1/2″ thickness. Place on a cooling rack, cut-side up and lightly salt them. Set the rack on a cookie sheet in an oven at 190 degrees for a 10 hours. Put the tomatoes in plastic bags, and store them in the freezer. Zing up your dried tomatoes and conserve them at the same time by canning them in olive oil and herbs. The jars can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Be considerate to those who will be consuming your meals by reserving many spices for later addition. Garlic powder, salt, cayenne and pepper are all great spices that can be added to foods after they have been cooked. People have varying preferences in regards to food spices. Do not spice the meal until after its cooked so that your guests can customize the taste of the meal. This way, everyone can make the dish truly theirs.

When using fresh herbs in your meal, including dill and parsley, place the herbs together in bunches, and cut them with scissors. The leaves will be fuller and more crisp than they would have been if they were wet.

When you are cooking with Teflon coated cookware, you must use silicone, nylon or rubber utensils. Wood and metal utensils can scratch the coating, which reduces the pan’s effectiveness and allowing bits of the coating, a known carcinogen, to enter your food. This doesn’t taste great, and can also be dangerous.

Prepare your meal ahead of time so you can leave it sitting for a few minutes. Most people are unaware that it’s a good idea to have a meal sit out for a few minutes before eating. We are inclined to serve meat and other foods as soon as they are cooked. Unfortunately, serving your meal immediately can take away from the taste and quality. Instead, allow each dish to cool briefly before serving it.

Prepping for the following night’s dinner before you head to bed can save you a ton of time when life is busier enough to make cooking more difficult. You can chop vegetables or put together a lasagna to place in the fridge to save time.

These little bits of advice can go a long way toward improving your kitchen creations. A good rule of thumb is to try each of these tips once. Even if you do not enjoy the results, you are still practicing and acquiring new skills. You can be a better cook in no time if you consider these tips.

You need to make sure you fix all ingredients before you start cooking. This way, you will never find yourself halfway through a recipe and without something you need. It can save you the headache from not being prepared and it really doesn’t take any more time to do this.

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