Tips for Rookie Cooks
- Make meat slicing easier
Slicing raw meat neatly into thin strips can be challenging. Try freezing your meat for 30 minutes before slicing and it will be much easier.
- Egg separating made easy
Break eggs into a funnel set over a cup—the white will flow through the hole while the yolk will remain happily nestled inside the funnel!
- Keep your appliances within reach
If you’re lucky enough to have plenty of counters or shelf space, we recommend keeping your food processor, blender, and other cooking appliances in plain view and well within reach. When appliances are hidden away in a high-up cupboard or stored out in the garage, it will always seem like a huge hassle to retrieve and use them. If they’re as easy to access as your toaster, you’ll use them without giving it a second thought—saving you from the drudgery of chopping, mincing, and mixing by hand.
- Chopping, slicing, dicing, and more
Ever wondered why there are so many different words for cutting up food? If you don’t know a slice from a dice, here’s a quick primer that will help you keep them all straight.
- Chop: Cut into bite-sized pieces, 1 inch or smaller.
- Cube: Cut into a uniform cube shape, around ½ inch.
- Dice: Cut into very small cubes, around 1/ 8 inch to ¼ inch.
- Mince: Cut into very small pieces, smaller than 1/ 8 inches.
- Slice: Cut into thin, flat pieces.
- hred: Cut into small, narrow strips, usually with the large holes of a grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding disc. Cooked meat is also often “shredded” using either your hands or two forks to pull it apart.
- Gr ate: Reduce to very thin shreds, usually with the small holes of a grater, a Microplane grater, or a food processor fitted with a grating disc.
- Julienne: Cut into matchstick-sized strips, around 1/ 8 inch thick by 2 inches long
- Chiffonade: This French term (literally, “made from rags”) refers to a preparation of leafy vegetables or herbs by cutting them into fine strips or shreds (for example, “basil chiffonade”). To cut a chiffonade, make a little stack of like-sized leaves, roll them up tightly, and then slice the roll to create little bundles of ribbons.
- Pots and pans
There are many different kinds of cooking vessels and dishes, each with its properties and purpose. Here are a few of the most common.
- Pot: A deep, round container that usually has two handles and a lid.
- Skillet or frying pan: A low pan with one handle and short, outward-flaring sides. They are used for cooking foods over high heat, so they should be thick, sturdy, and conduct heat evenly. They’re typically around 8 to 12 inches in diameter.
- Sauté pan: A frying pan with vertical (nonsloping) sides.
- Saucepan n: A deep pan with one long handle and straight or flared sides that are usually at least 3 inches high. A saucepan often includes a tight-fitting cover. Saucepans are made from various materials including aluminum, anodized aluminum, ceramic, copper, enameled cast iron or steel, glass, or stainless steel.
- Stockpot: A large—anywhere from 6 quarts to 20 quarts—round container that usually has two handles and a lid. Stockpots are used for making stocks and soups, but they are also often used for making sauces, stews, or braised meat dishes. When we call for a stockpot in our recipes, one on the smaller end of the scale—say, 6 or 8 quarts—will do.
- Dutch oven: A heavy, deep pot with a heavy lid, typically made from cast iron, and used for cooking dishes that benefit from slow cooking over low heat.
- Baking dish: A dish with sides a couple of inches high, of varying shapes and sizes, used in the oven. They are typically made of stoneware, cast iron, enameled cast iron, or glass.
- Baking sheet: A flat, rectangular metal pan used in the oven or broiler and typically used for baking flat, non juicy items like cookies.
- Nonreactive pans
Sometimes you’ll read a recipe that specifically calls for a non-reactive pan. This is a nonporous pan that does not produce a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with acidic foods like vinegar. Aluminum, copper, and cast iron are reactive, while stainless steel, anodized aluminum, glass, clay, and enamel are not.
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