If youre like one of the many Americans who have taken up cooking while spending more time at home, youve probably found meal prep to be an enjoyable activity with a rewarding outcome”a gourmet-quality meal right in your own home.
Or maybe not so gourmet. If your home-cooked meals are getting less than five stars, one of these common cooking mistakes could be the culprit. Avoid the following donts from Real Simple and your culinary creations will soon be chef-approved.
Youre not completely reading the recipe before getting started. A quick glance at an appealing recipe may seem like all you need before you start cooking. But not thoroughly reading the recipe in advance, including all the ingredients and steps, could trip you up mid-stream. You may need to let meat marinade for a couple of hours, or let your dough rise in the fridge for a full day. Or you may realize your bottle of turmeric is virtually empty when you reach for it. So review the recipe start to finish and make sure you have the right quantities of all ingredients and enough time to properly execute the dish.
Youre putting too much in the pan. Whether youre sauting vegetables or browning meat, dont overcrowd your frying pan. All ingredients need to come in contact with the hot pan surface in order to achieve the desired result. If food is layered in the pan or butting up against one another, it will begin to steam and get soggy.
Youre not adding salt to your pasta water. If your pasta dishes arent quite restaurant quality, salt could be the issue. Pasta absorbs salt while it cooks so generously salting the water before adding the noodles is a critical step.
Youre using outdated herbs and spices. If youre like many home cooks, you buy a particular spice because a recipe calls for it, then it sits on the shelf for months”or years”on end. While old spices wont make you sick, they also wont add any flavor to your recipes. Opt for fresh herbs to get the most flavor out of your meals.
Youre not tasting as you go. Even the best recipes arent foolproof. Cook times and ingredient amounts often require tinkering based on your specific preferences. Thats why tasting your dish throughout the process is essential to a great outcome. This will allow you to customize it to suit your tastes and give you time to correct something that isnt quite right.
Published with permission from RISMedia.