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Old 12-13-2007, 12:20 PM   #1
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Share one cooking secret, please :)

if you were to review your years of experience, your successes and failures, what would you say is your most 'hand me down' worthy cooking secret ???

please be generous lol some of us could really use the help!

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Old 12-13-2007, 12:29 PM   #2
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if you were to review your years of experience, your successes and failures, what would you say is your most 'hand me down' worthy cooking secret ???

please be generous lol some of us could really use the help!
For me, Mise en place. Make sure you have all your needed ingredients & appropriate cooking utensils/tools - including a calibrated oven. Don't take short cuts & allow enough time to accomplish the end result. Use fresh ingredients (herbs/spices, fruits, veggies etc.) whenever possible.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:34 PM   #3
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Get a good, sharp chef's knife and learn how to maintain it. And use the right tool for the right job. I recently got a mandoline - no wonder I never wanted to make French onion soup or potatoes au gratin from scratch. It's a necessity
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:36 PM   #4
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No recipe is too complicated for you to make. They all consist of basic steps with various ingredients. If you break a recipe down and look at one instruction at a time, you can cook anything.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:42 PM   #5
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Taste everything along the way! Don't wait until the dish is finished before you taste it, taste it every step of the way when there's still time to fix or add stuff. If you wait till the end, its usually too late.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:42 PM   #6
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Don't be scared to try new or different recipes and expirament, that's the best way to learn. Just have some stuff to throw a few sandwiches together in case it doesn't work out. Also, use help if you need it, not everything always has to be made from scratch.

Soups and casseroles are great if you have people eating at different times. You can always set the oven on warm and dishes can be served whenever. This is also great when you have trouble timing getting your dishes all done at once. You can always keep one warm if the other is taking longer to cook than you thought.
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Old 12-13-2007, 12:43 PM   #7
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excellent tips, thank you !!!
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:23 PM   #8
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Prep as much as you can before actually starting the cooking. That way you can focus on the method and process of making the dish and not have to stop to do something else. One thing I find helpful for me, I buy my ground meat and chickens in bulk. I take a day to cook the chickens (boil in water, then strip from bone and save the broth) and brown the beef. Then package them up in freezer bags in 1-1/2 or 2 cup amounts. This cuts down on the prep. I just pull a bag from the freezer, zap in the microwave and add to casserole and soups. It's a lot of work one day a month but then I'm set for a lot of recipes the rest of the month.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:31 PM   #9
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Cook with booze.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:33 PM   #10
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use the best quality ingredients that you can.... real butter, yum...i'm kinda into cookies, so for example, today I am making chocolate almond cookies, with whole wheat pastry flour, madagascar vanilla, nice chocolate chips, penzeys dark cocoa, butter, farm egg...

follow the recipe the first time, then experiment when cooking, follow recipe always when baking

get a good cookbook(s) that lists substitutes. Going to town for a missing ingredient is not an option for me. So I keep many cookbooks to find a recipe that suits the ingredients I have.

Experiment, enjoy....
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:33 PM   #11
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Experiment; prep as much ahead as possible; and most important.....clean up as you go....makes things soooooo much easier!
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:35 PM   #12
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All the above, especially mis en place.

I'll also add that it's important to read your recipe all the way through before beginning any prepping or cooking. It's no fun to get to a stage of a recipe only to discover you don't have an ingredient in the correct amount or at all or be missing an essential cooking utensil/tool.

Hand-in-hand with reading the recipe completely is to make sure your read it enough in advance of preparing the dish that you will be certain to have enough time to make it. Rushing can lead to mistakes or a poorly prepared recipe. "Haste makes waste" is definitely true.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:37 PM   #13
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Make sure you have everything in stock before starting the recipe
I use to start something and then realize I was out of something.

Anyone one can cook. Relax and just follow a recipe
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:41 PM   #14
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Not really a secret but...it's my #1 rule for cooking.

You can always add more
of an ingred. BUT...you can't take it out once it's in. I always keep that in mind.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:43 PM   #15
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After preparing a meal Taste it. If it doesn't taste good - do not serve it.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:47 PM   #16
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...and most important.....clean up as you go....makes things soooooo much easier!
Beat me to the punch with that one! Yes indeed, bringing the kitchen back to normal before the major mess develops, that's the ticket.

In fact, I consider it proof that you've got the recipe down pat. You can actually enjoy cooking -- and the dinner that follows -- when you've licked that problem.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:47 PM   #17
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I do all of the above plus I prepare a recipe just as its written the first time I try it..then if there is anything I can do to make it better the next time i make it..I write it down on the recipe so I wont forget.
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Old 12-13-2007, 01:53 PM   #18
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Bring some curiosity to the game. Understanding why things work the way they do allows you to not only enjoy the actual cooking more, but also gives you a basis for reasonable experimentation and substitution.

I love programs like "Good Eats" that explain everything about the ingredients and recipe as you go along.
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Old 12-13-2007, 05:19 PM   #19
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just to comment on ella's and robgrave's responses.. thats very true, i did feel over -whelmed when i got started and i wasnt cleaning as i went.. thats a very good tip.. when i clean as i go i feel more organised and i can keep my thoughts together and even experiment a little :) excellent advice.
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Old 12-13-2007, 05:27 PM   #20
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Great ideas, particularly Andy's. I can't remember 20 ingredients. But I can remember and understand a recipe that I can restate as it takes a mirepoix and a basic white sauce and .......

I wish all recipes had a preface that summarized the recipe that way. It would make cooking easier for me.

But my suggestion is clean and wash as you go.

I start with an empty open dishwasher. Pots, pans, utensils, you name it get rinsed and go right in. If I know I am going to need a pot, or pan, or knife I am using in a subsequent step I just rinse or wash it quickly in the sink and re-use it. At the end of the cooking the kitchen is much neater than if I had a sink full of cookware.
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