I love spending time in the kitchen, but I was never going to become a professional chef. However, I did want to cook tasty and beautiful dishes, try more new recipes, and learn some cool kitchen hacks from real cooking masters. I read books, watched tutorials from famous chefs, and ended up attending high-end cooking classes.
There are many benefits to taking different workshops and cooking classes. You’ll not only learn to cook, but chefs will also show you hundreds of tricks. Now, I can share with Enlighten readers the many cooking hacks that I learned during these classes. And at the end of the article, I’ll reveal the secret to a successful dinner party.
- Oats aren’t the only healthy option for a lazy breakfast. If you add 2 cups of water to a cup of buckwheat and leave it to soak overnight, buckwheat will swell and become edible while still being raw. You’ll just have to add any products that you love to enhance the taste, like milk, berries, nuts, cinnamon, or cardamom.
- If you want to make aromatic oils with fresh herbs, first, soak the herbs in vinegar for a couple of hours before adding them to the oil. This way you’ll kill the bacteria and the herbs won’t start to rot over time.
- If you need some lemon zest, but you don’t know how to use the rest of the lemon, make lemon curd. It’s a light custard with lemon juice that goes well with toast and pancakes and is used as a filling for pastries.
- To make cottage cheese pancakes more fluffy, you just need to push the cottage cheese through a fine sieve. If you want to move to the next level, replace the wheat flour with rice flour. In this case, the pancakes will keep their shape better, have fewer calories, and come out with a delicious golden crust.
Tatiana Maramygina / FOAP / gettyimages
To make the meat in homemade dumplings juicier, add a little gelled broth to the minced meat. This is a hack from Japanese cuisine, and it works perfectly with different kinds of dumplings.
One of the biggest revelations for me was the fact you shouldn’t put meat in cold water if you’re making a broth. The juices that the meat releases in the cold water coagulate when the water boils (because this is animal protein) and, as a result, they will float on top of the water’s surface, creating a very unappealing foam. To make a transparent and healthy broth, put the meat in the water when the water temperature is about 140°F. You can tell that the water is hot enough when you see the first small bubbles start to appear.
- Breadcrumbs aren’t your only option when you want to bread meat. You can also use oats, corn grits, and potato chips. You’ll need to coarsely crush these ingredients before covering the meat in them, but be careful and don’t turn them into dust.
- If you’re going to bread fish, red meat, or chicken, leave the chopped meat out for a little while before covering it with the product. This way, the crumbs will stick to it better. Then wait a little bit before frying it to let the coating set too.
- To make juicy and low-fat meatballs, replace a part of the minced meat with high-quality cottage cheese. There’s no need to put any bread in these meatballs.
In order to not have to bother with picking out the citrus zest from a fine grater, put plastic wrap on top of it, and only after that, start to grate. When you’re done, just peel off the wrap and remove the leftover zest from it. This trick can also be used when you need to grate cheese.
Plastic wrap helps store food, but sometimes it becomes crumpled and sticks to your hands. Just keep the film in the refrigerator, and this won’t happen anymore.
If you need to measure viscous and sticky products like honey, syrup, or peanut butter, sprinkle a spoon or a measuring cup with some vegetable oil. That way every sticky product will drain from it faster, you’ll waste less food, and washing dishes will also be easier.
To make your meatballs neat and chubby without any lumps in the center, make a small dimple in the middle of the meatballs with your finger before you put them on the grill, in the oven, or in the pan.
- When you add spices to a dish, use your fingers instead of spoons and shakers. And you should hold your hand high above the dish, not because it looks cool, but because it prevents the spices from accumulating in just one place and leaving some parts of the dish unspiced.
You should always turn the handles of pans away from the edge of the stove to make sure you won’t accidentally hit them while cooking, so you won’t get dirty, or, even worse, so you won’t get burned with hot food.
- When you add dressings to green salads, you should add salt first and only then pour the dressing. Salt helps open up the flavor. Add the dressing to the sides of the bowl and don’t pour it into the middle if you want your vegetables to be shiny from the oil, instead of bathing in it.
- You can easily make an alternative to the expensive mascarpone cheese that is used in many desserts from full-fat sour cream and lemon juice. The lemon juice will acidify the sour cream, then warm it up, but not to a boil, and after strain and cool.
Ordinary pearl barley can become the basis for a whole range of dishes called orzotto, or perlotto. These dishes are prepared just like the famous risotto, but instead of rice, pearl barley is used.
Cinnamon is not just for desserts. You can use it to stew beef, pork, and chicken, you can add it to minced meat, or you can use it to make a dry marinade for meat. It gives dishes a slightly sweet taste that goes well with the dishes from Chinese cuisine.
To make a dense coffee foam at home without exerting too much effort, take some whole milk, whip it up using any method, and put it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Thanks to this procedure, the foam will be thicker, richer, and won’t lose its volume for a long time. I whip up the milk in a separate container, because it’s more convenient to pour it into cups. Then I use a glass cup to heat it in the microwave. But even if the foam has been poured from one cup to another, it still doesn’t lose its volume.
To keep the blender blades of coffee grinders sharp, it’s enough to grind a little coarse salt with them once a month. Ground salt can then be used in cooking.
Do you want to make the fluffiest pancakes? Of course, the dough recipe is important, but the final result will look totally perfect if you use cookie cutters or egg rings when making your pancakes in the pan.
To give mushrooms a golden color, start frying them in a dry pan. When the liquid is evaporated from the mushrooms, add oil. Then add some salt almost at the end of the cooking process.
- To make poached eggs without any issues, break an egg into a small strainer, let the most liquid part of the egg-white drain, and then carefully put the egg into the boiling, acidified water.
- Both the white and the green part of leeks are edible. The green part tastes good with scrambled eggs, casseroles, pies, salads, and can replace green onions. And you can place the part of the leeks with the roots into a glass or a jar filled with some water and put it on a windowsill where the plant can get enough sunlight. The leeks will start to grow again after this. This trick also works with young green onions, celery, and salad leaves.
Sometimes, just one thing separates a home-cooked dish from a chef’s masterpiece — the presentation. The easiest way to serve main dishes is to use wide, monochromatic plates (white, black, or blue) without piling up too much food and distributing it all the way to the edges. Try to arrange the food in the center evenly, and only then put one or 2 bright ingredients on the top of the dish.
There is a secret to hosting a good party. It goes something like this, “Something old, something new, something bought, and something left over from yesterday.” This means that you should make something that you’ve already cooked many times as the main dish, so there will be no problems or glitches. As a snack, side dish, or a dessert, you can serve something new, that you’ve never cooked for your guests before. There is nothing wrong with treating your guests to some dishes that you bought. It could be a cake or pastries from a fashionable pastry shop, different kinds of cheeses, or tart shells with caviar. And the last piece of advice: In order to not get too tired from cooking, pick a dish that you can cook in advance, and not necessarily until it’s completely ready. If example, you may just need to put it in the oven. When you create the menu this way, you’ll for sure have enough time, succeed at everything, and be able to spend time with your guests, rather than spending the whole evening in the kitchen.
Have you ever attended cooking classes or workshops? Or maybe you have your own secrets that can even beat those from famous chefs?