Knowing these tips for recipe success will make your cooking experience in the kitchen an enjoyable one. If you are a beginner cook, start with these tips!
It is a brand new year and you have decided to make healthy lifestyle choices and that includes cooking more at home.
Yay! Welcome aboard!.
Start by following these basic tips for recipe success.
I have been a home cook for several years now and I have experimented with a myriad of different cuisines and types of cooking. I am also constantly learning new dishes and techniques and I am so excited to share them with you!
That being said, I started off with no cooking experience at all - just armed with the memories of smells and tastes from my mamama's(grandmom) and parents' cooking.
I have had mishaps along the way - rushing things up, not using the correct ingredients, and not following the instructions.
And it is OK to make mistakes. You learn from them. Try to understand what went wrong so that next time you wont repeat the same ones.
You have decided to cook more at home, but at a loss as to where to start?
Pick a simple recipe - preferably from a cuisine you are familiar with. Once you familiarize yourself with simpler recipes, navigate to more complex ones.
Before you grab the apron and the utensils and get ready to jump-start into cooking, here are a few tips for you to keep in mind to ensure success while cooking. These are some of the tips for recipe success, I have curated over the years from my personal experience and reading up on cooking.
(These are basic tips for you to keep in mind to get started in the kitchen)
Tip 1 for recipe success - Read the recipe
Oh! I can't stress the importance of this one.
Understand the recipe completely: read the ingredient list, recipe instructions, as well as additional notes (if any). The author might have given some substitutions wherever applicable.
Nowadays most food bloggers give detailed instructions, step-by-step pictures as well as video demonstration for most of the recipes.
Read up on everything about the recipe, look at the step-by-step pictures, watch the video to get a good grip on the recipe before you start cooking.
You can google the terms you are not familiar with and understand what the author wants you to do. (P.S. My Sonshine was reading the recipe for bell pepper curry and asked me what shallow fry is. He wants me to work on such terms and show pictures and videos for these terms. Let me know if you guys would like to see something like that in the comments!).
Tip 2 for recipe success - Prep Time
My second tip for success with a recipe is about the preparation time. Most recipes include a prep time or preparation time required for the recipe. Always, plan a little extra time than mentioned in the recipe, especially if you are a beginner cook.
The prep time denoted in the recipe will be based on the experience of the recipe author which could substantially be different based on your skill level. It is always better to plan a few extra minutes for prep time.
Also, understand whether the author wants you to do some intermediate steps before fully immersing in cooking the dish - activating yeast before adding to the bread dough would be an example or soaking the dal to make mustard greens stir fry).
Tip 3 for recipe success - mise en place
Mise en place is the French term to keep everything in place (ready) before you start. Gather all your ingredients, equipment, and utensils before you start the stove or cooking range.
If you are just starting your cooking journey, I would also add that it is a good idea to measure all your ingredients prior to starting to cook. As time progresses you will understand the measurements and will be able to eyeball them.
From my own experience, "winging it" is definitely not the way to go. It can only lead to missing important steps and forgotten ingredients. I highly recommend this step especially if you are learning to cook.
The difference between many amateur and seasoned cooks tend to be their preparation to prepare the dish. Hope it makes sense. 🙂
Tip 4 for recipe success - spices and other ingredients
Always try to use fresh spices as well as all other ingredients. If you are a beginner cook, don't buy spices and ingredients in bulk.
Buy in smaller quantities, familiarize yourself with them and decide what you like and what you don't. Buying in bulk also requires learning how to store the spices effectively, which can be a challenge for some one who is just starting off.
Add the spices in the order given in the recipe - start with smaller quantities (especially if you are not familiar with a spice or have a mild palate), and be sure to taste as you go.
If you are trying the recipe for the first time stick to the ingredient list as per the recipe[unless the author has specifically suggested substitutions]. As you grow more confident, you can start substituting the ingredients as per your liking.
Tip 5 for recipe success - Cooking time
Just like prep time, cooking time varies depending on many many factors - the stove you use, the temperature at which you cook, the altitude, and even the ingredients. The overall cooking time depends on the time each individual step takes in the recipe instructions.
Usually, apart from mentioning the time, the recipes will also mention the look and feel of the ingredients once the step is complete, in addition to the aroma or smells associated with the step, etc. Look for all signs before you proceed with the next step in the instructions.
Also just like prep time, allow yourself more cooking time too.
Understanding this is a crucial step in making the cooking process enjoyable.
Tip 7 for recipe success - cooking for a special occasion?
I have seen questions like this in food forums - "My husband's birthday is tomorrow. Can you suggest me a cake recipe?" NEVER try a fresh new recipe for a special occasion or person.
I understand the emotion and thought behind it. But if you are cooking for a special occasion, or for guests, try out the recipes you have finalized beforehand at least once (if possible a couple of times) to avoid any kind of mishaps or unwanted surprises.
Again, if you are cooking for a special person or special occasion, do not attempt a new recipe for the first time. :).
enjoy the process
Though this is not a tip for recipe success per se, if you do not enjoy what you are doing, it will feel like a chore. Think of this as new skill/experience you are trying to bring into your life. See where it takes you.
Take your time - you can't rush the cooking process.
Enjoy the experience - relish the aroma emanating from roasting the spices or baking the cake. It is a worthwhile experience.
Clean as you go!
This is not for the success of your recipe, but as a general rule to follow. If you clean as you go, you will not end up with sink full of dirty dishes and a messy kitchen at the end of the cooking process.
Follow this especially if you are expecting company; you will be more relaxed to enjoy the food and fun.
Make this a habit!
A few more notes 🙂
I gather inspiration for dishes I make for my family from different venues- cookbooks, blogs, cooking forums, discussions with friends and family -but for most of the traditional recipes, I rely on my extended family.
Every time I asked one of my relatives to share their traditional recipes, I usually get recipes like this -
- Vegetables of your choice - pumpkin, carrots, yam, potatoes, etc.
- cook with green chilli
- add hing
- add coconut milk
- drizzle oil
(This one is from my dad for a Konkani recipe for Valval :). Valval is a Konkani dish where vegetables are simmered in mild coconut sauce. )
Usually, there will be no measurements associated with the recipe. Everything is measured in handfuls and fistfuls. Spices measurements will come in pinches and dashes, but every dish they made turned out to be super good.
I don't remember my grandmother ever owning a measuring spoon or a scale. Everything was an "andaaza" - meaning intuitive cooking - they looked for the taste, smell, look of the dish and formed an intuitive knowledge of what works for the family and what does not.
(It might not happen right at the beginning of your cooking journey - hang in there. Cook more. Learn from your mistakes (you will make a few along the way). You will slowly start to realize that you like ceratin flavors more; you will be able to guestimate how much is a teaspoon of salt without actually measuring it. FUN!)
It is definitely fun and most of my cooking experiments start off that way.
As a food blogger, however, I can't do that. I have to give precise measurements and instructions. I try my recipes at least 3-5 times if it is something new to me. If it is something traditional, I would have already made it several times before sharing it on the blog.
I am a home cook, and when I (and most bloggers I know) write down the recipes for you, I think of how I can be of help to you. How can you use the recipe to prepare the dish to get the best results.
But I am human! There will always be things I missed, assumed or didn't think of.
You can definitely reach out to me with any queries. I will try to answer to the best of my abilities.
This is why feedback is so very important for food bloggers. Reviewing, leaving feedback, and star rating a recipe, helps us grow as food bloggers. It not only helps us by improving our own cooking skills, it makes us better at writing recipes. We may have overlooked something because we assumed something and if you let us know that you struggled with it, your feedback will remind us not to take anything lightly and write better.
So there you have it! Some basic tips for recipe success. Hope you found them useful.
Rate, share, leave us a comment. Well, not just us, any food blogger you like! It is the right thing to do!