Cooking is a skill. Some are born with a natural ability, while others have to work harder to be good at it. If you still have not mastered the art of cooking, despite using recipe books written by professional chefs, here are tips that will improve your skills in the kitchen:
Follow the Recipe to a T
Every necessary ingredient, tools, measurements, and instruction are all written in the recipe. The only thing you need to do is follow.
However, not everyone does that. Those who are not experienced cooks may think that chilled butter is as good as softened or melted butter. As a result, they do not get the results they hope for and feel discouraged about cooking.
If you want to be better, follow everything written in the recipe. Use measuring cups for wet and dry ingredients. In NZ, you can find measuring cups online and wherever they sell baking equipment. If the recipe does not call for a certain ingredient, do not add it or use it as a substitute for something else. You may end up with food that will not be eaten. You can experiment once you have a little more experience in the kitchen.
Learn to Chop Same-Sized Pieces
You do not have to be precise when cooking, but you should not be careless either. When it comes to chopping up ingredients, try your best to make everything cut to the same size. If not, the pieces will not cook evenly. You will end up with hard and uncooked huge pieces or small pieces that turned to mush.
When you cut everything in the same size, all pieces will cook at the same time. Also, be mindful of cooking times. Some vegetables, for example, cook faster than the others. Know when to add certain ingredients to the pot instead of dumping everything all at once.
Smell Your Spices
How long have your spices been sitting in your cupboard? Like other food items, spices do get bad and it will cause your food to taste bad as well. Every once in a while, go through your cupboard and smell each spice. If it do not smell anything or it has turned rancid, throw it away ASAP.
Smelling your spices is also a great way to familiarize yourself with it, enabling you to identify which will be good to add to your meals and removing any possibility of putting the wrong spice in what you are cooking.
Recalibrate Your Oven Periodically
When everything you put into your oven comes back as either undercooked or overcooked, then the temperature is not exactly what you set it to. Get yourself an oven thermometer, set your oven to a certain temperature, and see if the two match. If not, adjust your oven. There should instructions on the leaflet or manual included in the oven when you made the purchase. If not, try to remove the temperature knob of your oven and loosen the two screws. Move the dial clockwise and counterclockwise to shift the number.
Use Lightly-Colored Pans
Lightly-colored pans are better for beginners. If the food you bake come out burnt at the bottom, it might be because you use a dark-colored pan which absorbs more heat. It also will be easier to see what you are cooking with light-colored pans.
As they say, practice makes perfect. Do not be afraid to make mistakes because that is part of learning. Go ahead and explore the world of food and, eventually, you will be able to cook like a pro!