20-Minute Tips

I’ve been doing 20-Minute Chef for 10 months now and I realized that I’ve learned a lot, so here’s a handy list of the top things I’ve learned that have demystified the kitchen for me.

  1. Read the recipe multiple times before doing anything.
    Before you make a single slice, or even go to the store, read the recipe a couple times so you; 1) know what you need to buy and what’s already in your kitchen, 2) know what tools you’ll need, and 3) know what settings you’re supposed to be cooking at BEFORE you burn it.
  2. Buy a cooking knife.
    You don’t need a 5-star kitchen or all the latest cooking gadgets to make a great dish. Most of what you have at home will work fine. But if you don’t have a proper cooking knife, go get one. I got a pretty simple one from SUPERSTORE and it’s made a difference. Having the right tools for the job is half the battle.
  3. Have everything out before you cook.
    Don’t burn something because you had to go into the fridge to get an ingredient rather than reach to the counter. It seems obvious, but in the time it takes to get milk out and measure it, you could burn your dish.
  4. Don’t worry about precise measurements.
    Yes, it’s important to get the amounts at least close so you have something edible. But once you’re comfortable don’t worry about using exactly half a cup of corn starch. I used to fret over getting all of my measurements exactly right and overcooked countless things in the process. Get it close, throw it in and keep going. Cooking is as much an art as it is science. Experiment with tastes and amounts.
  5. Expand your spice cabinet.
    You won’t get away with sprinkling nutmeg over every dish you make. Cumin, chiles, parsley are all great places to start and can totally change the taste of a dish.
  6. Go fresh.
    It makes a world of difference. Preparing food yourself simplifies the cooking process and reduces the ingredient list substantially. But even taste-wise, fresh-pressed garlic will always be better than garlic powder. It may take an extra step, but it’s worth it.
  7. Make the dish your own.
    Once your comfortable with cooking, you can experiment with ingredients/spices and not worry about destroying the dish. Start off simple. Try a different spice in a sauce. Maybe you like cream soups a little thicker. Add a little extra corn starch.

These are some of the top things I’ve picked up while cooking so far. Feel free to leave any of your tips in the comments.

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