Cooktop Cove: Expert chef shares 10+ dead easy tips for making food taste good
By Jessica Jacobs
Want tasty food but don't want to spend too much in the kitchen? You're in luck! You don't need to be a professional chef or have fancy cooking devices to get delicious food on the table at home. There are simple cooking tips and techniques that can instantly level up your cooking game.
We've collected some of the best cooking tips from around the web. Most of these are subtle concepts that take almost no effort or time to actually do. Be prepared to impress your friends and family the next time they taste your food!
1. Save your pasta water
Be sure to save a cup of the salted water your pasta was cooking in! No matter how good of a sauce you've made to accompany your pasta, reserved pasta water will make it even better. Not only will it bring more of that salt to the dish, but it will also help your sauce stick better to the pasta because it has so much of that starch in it that cooked off.
2. Use stock over water
This technique applies to cooking a variety of dishes from soups to stir-fry dishes. When a recipe asks for using water, try choosing stock (chicken or vegetable) as it will enhance the flavor.
3. Add some sugar to salad dressing
The essential components to any salad dressing are acid, oil, and salt -- but don't forget the sugar. A touch of sugar will really make the dressing stand out. Tip: There are many ways of adding this sugar to dressing from honey to maple syrup to agave nectar.
4. Velvet your meat
Velveting your meat is a technique applied to raw meat prior to cooking in oil that helps preserve all the moisture. This means your meat will come out more tender. Specifically, it typically involves pre-coating the meat, usually with a cornstarch mixture, and then blanching and drying before it's cooked.
5. Let your meat rest before cutting into it
From steaks to pork chops to roasts, be sure to let your meat rest when done. The resting process allows all the delicious juices to really soak and flow through, improving the overall taste. For every inch of meat, wait at least 5 minutes before cutting into it.
6. Add sour cream to eggs
Adding about one tablespoon of sour cream for every egg will give the eggs more body, making them stand up on the plate and look so fluffy you can't wait to stick a fork in 'em. Crack eggs into a large bowl, add the sour cream, and whip them into oblivion. Pour into a hot pan and start scrambling!
7. Always brown your meat first
Some recipes may say you can skip this step, but if you want the best flavor, be sure to brown your meat. This process caramelizes the meat and makes it that much more tasty at the end.
8. Place ice on top of your burgers when grilling
Believe it or not, ice works really well for keeping meat moist on the grill. Simply place an ice cube in the middle of the patty as it cooks for a tasty, juicy result. If you prefer, you can also use a bit of butter instead.
9. Rinse your rice before cooking
If you want your rice to be more even textured and fluffy, remember to rinse raw rice before using it. This process removes any starch on the surface that might make the rice more gooey. Soaking rice can further enhance the flavor. Tip: If you enjoy brown rice, try soaking overnight to make it easier to cook the next day.
10. Add brown sugar to pasta sauce
The next time you make pasta sauce, be sure to sprinkle in some brown sugar into the sauce to help balance out the flavors. The sugar helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
11. Make bacon tastier with flour
Yup, you heard from Cooktop Cove first. If you are looking for a way to get even crispier bacon while simultaneously reducing grease splatters, sprinkle some pinches of flour over raw bacon before frying them.
12. Give your veggies more flavor by roasting them
Roasting vegetables in the oven is one of the easiest way to give vegetables intense flavor without too much fat. All you need to do is drizzle some olive oil and season with salt and pepper before placing in oven. Tip: Be wary of overcrowding the sheet pan, though. Space out your veggies to get the best flavor!
13. Season from a distance
First, adding salt to any dish goes a long way. It's very easy for beginner cooks to under season as opposed to over season. When in doubt, more salt will enhance the flavor of a dish. Be sure to season from a distance though. This helps ensure a more even distribution of the salt.
14. Use blended salts
Blended salts are ones where salt is combined with a ground spice or herb such as rosemary or garlic. These salts can help add complexity to the dish without adding any extra steps or work! There's also truffle salt which is made from salt and pieces of black and white truffle. A little of truffle salt over eggs can add a lot of umami flavor!
15. Add mustard to mac and cheese
The next time you make mac and cheese, be sure to add some dry powdered mustard. You'll be surprised by the whole new flavor profile you've been missing out on. This powder will help nuance and emphasize the cheesy flavor profile.
16. Improve your coffee game
Up your coffee game by adding a couple flavor-boosting ingredients. First, try adding a pinch of salt (roughly 1/8 teaspoon) to your coffee grounds. Salt can cut back on the bitterness of the coffee. If you are a chocolate lover, try adding 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder to your coffee grounds the next time you are brewing coffee to get a smoother finish.
17. Combine balsamic vinegar with butterscotch
First, combine together balsamic vinegar and butterscotch. Then, add this beautiful savory sweet mixture to your desserts (e.g. think apple cake, bread pudding, etc), appetizers, and more. You can even mix it into your salad!
18. Use vodka in pie dough
For a foolproof pie crust, you'll want to use equal parts water and 80 proof vodka. Unlike water, vodka burns off quickly, preventing the pie dough from drying out. Don't worry - you won't be able to taste the alcohol at all. If you are looking for that perfect tender and flaky crust, using vodka is key.
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