10 Tips for Becoming a Confident Cook
A recipe is a set of instructions that describes how to prepare or make something. It can serve as a guide, a reference point, or simply a chance to get inspired. With hundreds of different cuisines and thousands of ingredients there are endless possibilities to work with, or as I like to say, play with. Some people will not cook without them and others could not be bothered to use them. Look at recipes however you like, but rest assured that anyone can become a skilled cook no matter if they're recipe-loving adherents or cuisine renegades!
10 tips for discovering your inner chef
1. Follow your instincts
Often relying on a recipe can hinder your own instincts. Work with simple ingredients that are familiar to you. When you feel more confident, begin to experiment with different spice blends and ingredients to create new flavour combinations.
2. Be creative and flexible
Don’t get stuck on a recipe. If you don’t have an ingredient that you require for a recipe remember that it’s not the end of the world. Stop to think if you have an ingredient that can be substituted for it. Google that! Heck, it might even be better for you.
For example: Cornstarch is often used as a thickener. Use ground chia seeds instead as it is water-soluble and will yield a similar result.
3. Allow yourself to fail
Rest assured you might not always get it right. Do not let one failed pie make you question why you try. Make mistakes, learn from them, and try again!
4. Practice and perfect your favourite recipes
Focus on recipes that you love. True to anything in life, if you don't like something or find it difficult it won't come naturally to you. Try variations until that recipe becomes your own!
5. Be adventurous
Be one with your kitchen and your ingredients. Take one ingredient and challenge yourself to prepare it 5 different ways.
6. Invest in basic, quality kitchen equipment
There is a lot of kitchen junk out there and you don’t need every gizmo that is being sold.
I recommend: cast iron pans, stainless steel pots, a chef’s knife and a food processor.
Items to avoid: plastic utensils, non-stick pans, and aluminum anything.
7. Be prepared
This is what makes any quality cook stand out. Know what is required of the recipe and ensure all the necessary pre-steps are taken.
For example: Planning to make chilli? The night before soak all your dried beans in enough water to cover between 12 and up to 24 hours. If you forgot then you might have to opt for canned beans with a side of aluminum and BPA (bisphenol A).
8. Know your pantry and fridge
Keeping a mental inventory of what you have in terms of dried, fresh and frozen foods will help you minimize waste.
9. Aim for leftovers
Make life easier on yourself and plan to make more than recipes call for. Having a steady supply of meals will help fuel you with the required energy and nutrients to keep you on the move and motivated.
10. Keep it fresh and simple
Support local. Buy at farmers' markets! The vendors will happily share recipes and techniques to expand your cooking portfolio. Fewer-ingredient recipes are less daunting and allow for incorporating more elaborate (or not!) steps later.
Now what are you waiting for? Get cooking!