Cooking is a skill that is very difficult to master. This article will help you learn to make high quality meals.

Bake pie crusts a little longer than you would think they should be baked. Wait until the crust turns golden rather than pale blond. The crust changes to the caramel color only after the sugar has had time to caramelize. This will give the crust the sweet flavor you want.

Be sure to keep your spices in an area that is cool and dark. Humidity and heat, in addition to light, will cause spices and herbs to lose their flavor. Generally, ground spices and herbs keep most of their flavor for a year. Spices that are whole will retain flavor longer, closer to 3-5 years. Spices that are stored correctly remain fresher for longer.

Make sure that all of your spices are stored away from heat and light. When they are stored in the sun, they lose shelf life because of exposure. Storing your spices in a dark location with a lower temperature will help preserve them longer. Fresh spices offer better taste profiles than stale ones.

Preparation is key when cooking for family or friends. Look at your recipe, and ensure that you aren’t missing any ingredients. Prepare everything the day prior, including the correct utensils and other cooking tools. This will allay some of your fears and anxiety when it is time to cook the meal.

During cooking, it’s essential that you have sharp knives accessible. If your knife is dull, it’s obviously tougher to use, but it is also much more dangerous in general. You’re less likely to cut yourself chopping up a vegetable with the clean, fast strokes of a sharp knife, than when you are forcing and wiggling a dull knife.

Do not season all the meat immediately: try a small piece first. Items such as burgers, meatballs and other meat dishes need deliberate, specific seasoning. Do not cook everything right after adding the seasoning. Rather, cook a small piece first and taste it. You are then able to decide whether to cook the rest of the meat that way, or adjust your seasoning accordingly.

Fresh ingredients are always preferable to dried or frozen ones in all of your recipes. Use fresh foods any time you can, as they bring out the best flavor of the dish, and can be real money-savers too.

Let raw potatoes soak in some cold water for a half hour prior to frying them to increase the crispiness of French fries. Soaking the sliced potatoes in cold water strengthens the potato fibers so they will not break down so much when you fry them in the hot oil.

They behave like sponges and absorb the water. Try using a clean, wet cloth and wiping them off instead.

Replacing some of your mashed potatoes with equal amounts of cauliflower is a healthy alternative, reducing fat and calories. The bland cauliflower taste will make it so that you do not notice much difference in the taste, while accentuating the taste of some of the other ingredients. Cauliflower mixes easily with potatoes and will become hard to notice while reducing your intake of carbs.

When you are planning to use skewers for your cooking, always soak wooden skewers for at least thirty minutes in water prior to use. This way, you don’t burn them when you are cooking with them. You can keep food on the skewer when you use two parallel skewers instead of one.

Chicken Stock

When you will be cooking a pumpkin, stand it up and then slice it down the middle. Next, you want to use two cookie-sheet type pans. On each pan, place one half of the pumpkin with the side that is cut facing down. Sprinkle or spray a bit of water on your baking sheets, then preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The pumpkin takes about an hour to bake.

Think big if you plan to make chicken stock. Plan on preparing a large batch so that the excess can be frozen and used later. That tasty chicken stock is very versatile and can be perfect for your next stew, casserole or soup. To store your homemade stock, let it cool, pour it into a freezer bag, and stick it in the freezer.

Seasoning should be applied in small amounts throughout the cooking process rather than all at once. Your food will taste as flavorful as ever if you season it this way.

If you are watching your weight and trying to eat healthy, it is essential to reduce the amount of oil you use when you cook. Adding unnecessary butter, oil and lard can increase your intake of fat. Nonstick cooking sprays are a great substitute which ends up giving you the same result except in a healthy way, as opposed to the oil which is unhealthy.

Always measure the amount of cooking oil you use. A simple way to reduce fat when you cook is to measure your oil, rather than pour it straight from the bottle. By doing this, you will be able to clearly see how much oil you are using.

If you choose the wooden versions of cooking skewers, it is a good idea to immerse them in water, and leave them there for about half an hour before using them. This step will stop the skewer from burning while it is being used. To ensure that your food stays on the skewers, use two skewers instead of one to hold the food firmly in place.

Leaving the bone in is an easy way to decrease the cook time for a roast. The bone can quicken the cooking process by distributing the heat directly to the inner portion of the joint. Once it is finished cooking, cut the meat off the bone.

If your recipe calls for a liquid, try using something other than water or milk. This will add a spark to that tired old dish. As a substitute for water, try broth. Juice can work as well. Some people use the water left over from boiling vegetables. You can try out buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream instead of milk. A good method for increasing your nutritional intake is by increasing the amount of liquids you drink throughout the day.

Save the delicious taste of summer by drying tomatoes yourself. Cut Romas tomatoes in lengthwise halves, or slice ripe regular tomatoes into half inch slices for drying. Put them on a rack with the cut side up and add sufficient salt. Heat your oven to 190 degrees and place the tomatoes inside for as long as ten hours. The tomatoes can then be placed in plastic bags and stored in the freezer. Another option is to place the tomatoes in a jar and cover them with fresh herbs and olive oil. Put this jar in the fridge and use it up in two weeks time.

If you are having people over to your home to eat, and you are including a salad with the meal, allow your guests to put the dressing on themselves. Let people add what they want to their salad. Also, try and include different types of dressings.

You need to stay organized when you are cooking, so that you can be sure the food is as great as it can be and that nothing burns. Just like with anything you do, the more organized you are, the more productive you will be. If you are unorganized, it is easy to lose track of things and waste your money and delicious food that you could have been eating!

Dried Tomatoes

Though a dish such as macaroni and cheese seems simple to prepare, it is important to follow the guidelines on the box or recipe. When following the directions, your macaroni and cheese will turn out perfectly, and you will love the great, cheesy flavor. A regular serving spoon is a perfectly good way to serve your macaroni and cheese. Spice it up with some type of pepper!

You can make your own dried tomatoes. Simply cut them into 1/2 half inch slices, or cut lengthwise for Romas. Put them facing upwards onto a cooling rack and add a little salt. Set your oven to 190 degrees, place the rack on a baking sheet and let the tomatoes dry in the oven for approximately 10 hours. Put the tomatoes in plastic bags, and store them in the freezer. Dried tomatoes can be placed into a jar that is filled with fresh herbs and olive oil. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.

To reduce the amount of stress you experience when cooking a complicated dish, you can prepare some of the ingredients the night before you need them. Locate the ingredients, cut up and measure herbs and spices and look through your cupboards to make sure you have what you need. Now all that is left is to assemble the dish and toss it in the oven!

Don’t throw out turkey leftovers, whether it is from a holiday dinner or an everyday meal. Rather, cut up the meat and store it in an airtight container in the freezer. The turkey will remain fresh this way for a couple weeks, and you can use it for sandwiches and salads.

When you are cooking pasta, use a fair amount of salt in the water. The salt will hold better while cooking because it is absorbed by the pasta along with the water. This is much more effective than trying to add salt to pasta that you have already cooked.

By applying the tips in this article. you can dramatically improve your cooking ability. Armed with new knowledge, you now just need to get in that kitchen and cook! You will most certainly cook some fantastic dishes.

Spice up your cooking with a little creativity. You don’t always have to follow the recipe word for word. With a little resourcefulness in adding extra ingredients, reducing or altering the amount of spices, or substituting one type of meat or vegetable for another, you can often create a meal that tastes far superior to the original. Turning a simple recipe into something that is uniquely your own is the sign of a true cook.

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