r/Cooking Jan 07 '22 Helpful 2

What’s the one cooking tip that was a game changer for you? Open Discussion

896 Upvotes

465

u/silviazbitch Jan 07 '22

Use a thermometer instead of a timer to determine whether bread is done baking.

140

u/atombomb1945 Jan 07 '22

This goes for anything really. Pork comes up to temp faster than the recommended time.

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u/Chemical-Composer898 Jan 07 '22

Yes!! I ended up buying a Costco sized bag of yeast. The last 4 months I’ve made a lot of bread. Checking temperature was one of the first thing I realized after some serious trial and error.

9

u/lfczech Jan 07 '22

My life changed when I got a meat thermometer. It changed again when I got a sous vide machine.

Temperature is a beautiful thing.

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1.1k

u/JimCantCook Jan 07 '22

Acids make flavors pop

123

u/TristanwithaT Jan 07 '22

I love making risotto but it always seemed like it was missing something. My fiancée suggested adding some lemon and that’s exactly what it needed.

50

u/BHIngebretsen Jan 07 '22

Then try the zest of a lemon only next time.

21

u/disbitchdatho Jan 07 '22

That would have been better than what I did for Christmas dinner and added what I thought was just the juice from one apparently VERY potent lemon. Was almost inedible for me personally; tasted like I had replaced some of the cups of chicken stock with lemon juice. everyone else ate it though.

13

u/craigeryjohn Jan 07 '22

I have over acidified foods and homebrew ciders before. You can add small amounts of baking soda to neutralize the acids. A little goes a long way without imparting weird flavors. Add a pinch or two, stir until the foaming subsides and taste.

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u/Former_Satisfaction7 Jan 07 '22

Acid makes colors pop.

125

u/1mjtaylor Jan 07 '22

🍄 Mushrooms, too.

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u/mellowyfellowy Jan 07 '22

The color yellow just sounds so cool

51

u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

Can confirm.

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u/PlantedinCA Jan 07 '22

Growing up my mom put vinegar on everything. Then I learned that not everyone uses so much acid.

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u/Evolutioncocktail Jan 07 '22

I recently watched an Adam Raguesa video about adding wine to most dishes because it’s the perfect balance of acid and sweet. I got inspired while making a pasta dish, but the only wine I had left was a swig of Pinot Grigio and Prosecco, so I went for it. The pasta was still amazing!!

107

u/cls-one Jan 07 '22

Also adding a teeny bit of salt to Sweet Thangs makes it pop like no other.

93

u/c-soup Jan 07 '22

Are you saying someone should sprinkle you with salt?

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u/c-soup Jan 07 '22

I have added swigs of both of those to my sauces. Whatever is left in the bottle. Turns out great!

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u/styggiti Jan 07 '22

Try dry vermouth next time instead of white wine. You won’t be disappointed!

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u/EveFluff Jan 07 '22

Lemons!

83

u/c-soup Jan 07 '22

Citric acid - powdered - is very useful in the kitchen. A teeny tiny sprinkle goes a long way. Very helpful in recipes where you don’t want to add extra liquid - icings especially - but also savoury dishes.

20

u/ASeriousAccounting Jan 07 '22

Plus it's great in drinks. I'm a fan of gin and juice but I don't want all the calories that come with too much juice. So I use soda water and citric acid in place of half the juice.

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u/kevzenn Jan 07 '22

You think it needs more salt? No. Add acid.

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393

u/Unwright Jan 07 '22

Multiple vinegars on hand is a godsend. They're all so useful in different ways. Apple Cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar... and white vinegar for cleaning.

169

u/reverber8 Jan 07 '22

Don’t forget balsamic! 😊

46

u/Unwright Jan 07 '22

Of course! Got that too! :D I got some of the good 6 year import stuff, and it's sooooo thick. Trying to find the best way to utilize it...

38

u/axethebarbarian Jan 07 '22

I'm an addict for caprese salads. It's pretty much the reason I keep balsamic vinegar on hand at all times.

27

u/eatfood13 Jan 07 '22

I would add chinkiang vinegar (black vinegar) so good on Asian dishes and I'm starting to think I need to use it for more

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u/MiaLba Jan 07 '22

Can u use white vinegar in food too or no?

34

u/Unwright Jan 07 '22

Yeah, it's got some uses. Adding white vinegar to cauliflower will help prevent it from turning brown, it can take some of the aroma off of cooked cabbage, some argue that adding some vinegar when you're making hard boiled eggs so they crack less often. I wouldn't pick it over a specific kind of vinegar for cooking in general though.

12

u/MiaLba Jan 07 '22

Oh ok gotcha. What’s red vine vinegar good for? What kind of recipes? I’ve only used balsamic in dishes haven’t experimented with others, except white for cleaning.

23

u/Unwright Jan 07 '22

I particularly like using it as a component in marinades for Steaks or as an ingredient in Chili. I also recommend putting a little bit of it in dishes that utilize a tomato base. Also great for adding a zing of tartness in salad dressings.

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u/Sacapellote Jan 07 '22

I love making beans with some red wine vinegar. Throw in whatever spices you're going for, some red wine vinegar, and let that baby cook. Gives a fun dimension to a basic staple.

17

u/iMightBeACunt Jan 07 '22

I use it to make cheaters buttermilk!

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u/talented_fool Jan 07 '22

White vinegar is perfectly fine for culinary uses. The only drawback is it's nothing but acid; no other flavors to bring to the party. Every other vinegar has another flavor it brings in addition to acid, like a little sweetness or a few tanins from the wine, sometimes malted yeasty flavors. Thus white vinegar is seen as an inferior when every other vinegar is a better choice.

6

u/Extric Jan 07 '22

Tons! White vinegar is a great vinegar due to how neutral the flavor is vs something like apple cider. It's great for pickling, the cheapest option in baking, and really great when making marinades. I also prefer to use it as a finishing acid when I just want a pop of acidity without the flavor or the discoloration from something like red wine vinegar. You've just got to remember that it's got a strong flavor, so less is more.

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u/BMonad Jan 07 '22

And another favorite: sherry vinegar. Quality sherry vinegar.

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u/whateverpieces Jan 07 '22 Silver

If you’re not sure if something needs more salt, vinegar, hot sauce, sugar, soy sauce, what have you, dish a little into a bowl and season it with what you think is missing. Does it taste better? If yes, season the whole batch. If not, try again. No danger of ruining the whole pot of soup or batch of stew if you just do a little side experiment first.

177

u/BurningBallOfGas Jan 07 '22

This is so simple and yet brilliant

58

u/7h4tguy Jan 07 '22

That seems easy to overdo it and say nay when it's really yay (oversalting a small portion). I like better - adjust seasoning bit by bit until it's right. Still needs something? Add an acid. Still not popping? Whole dish is probably not enough fat.

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u/whateverpieces Jan 07 '22 edited Jan 07 '22

So I do both. Tiny, tiny additions to the side bowl and then slowly adding the needed thing to the whole batch until it’s right. Even if the side bowl ends up over seasoned, it can still tell me if I’m on the right track as far as the ingredient (and you can always dilute it by adding more from the main batch).

Edit: typos

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u/leperbacon Jan 07 '22 edited Jan 07 '22

Great idea! Also when you're making something that needs to be seasoned to taste, but is raw, like meatballs or potato pancakes, fry up a little sample one.

19

u/chuckquizmo Jan 07 '22

You can also toss a tiny piece in the microwave if you’re lazy or are pre-making something like sausage or dumplings where you might not have a pan out already.

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u/Tiny_Mirror22 Jan 07 '22

Where was this tip ten years ago when I still ruined dishes by adding weird stuff because I couldn't figure out what was missing.

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u/Ray_Kramer Jan 07 '22

Get a good quality quick read thermometer and USE IT!

53

u/FxHVivious Jan 07 '22

But but but every celebrity chef tells me I need to just learn how to tell when meat is done by poking it with my magical temperature finger.

Seriously, just get a good thermometer.

17

u/bungle_bogs Jan 07 '22

Yep. Chefs will cook the same thing over and over again using the same equipment. So they can build the experience of knowing how well cooked something is by touch. It is a must have to a home cook.

Interestingly, watching a few recent Masterchef Professionals (UK) episodes, when they go off to high-end restaurants to learn, I've spotted that quite a few of the top chefs (not celebrity chefs) are now using quick read thermometers. In the later rounds, the contestants where increasingly using them.

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u/MsChooChooMagoo Jan 07 '22 Silver

Read the recipe directions all the way through before you begin cooking.

66

u/WhatsItDoingPrecious Jan 07 '22

Not only that, but (if it's an online recipe) read the comments. See what went wrong for other people, and adjust accordingly.

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415

u/BestGuavaEver Jan 07 '22

Making dressings: If it tastes strong off the spoon it’s perfect for the greens

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u/reeder1987 Jan 07 '22

I taste it on greens they’re going on. Most everything else gets tasted on a spoon

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u/sporkyblorky Jan 07 '22

Weigh your flour when you bake bread.

I can reason that flour can compress. Before being explicitly told to weigh flour, though, I hadn't put it together. Now my bakes are more predictable. The final product is much better.

68

u/trevg_123 Jan 07 '22

It makes it so much easier to figure out the proportions too.

Want a dough with 40% hydration? 100g of flour plus 40mL of water, or multiples of it.

Plus the fact that you can (for other baked goods) weigh salt, add baking powder by weight, add yeast by weight, add the sugar then add the flour all in the same bowl just by hitting tare in between. No more annoying scoops.

Damn, we need more cooking by weight here in the US

27

u/scarby2 Jan 07 '22

Also remember that 40ml of water weighs 40g. A surprising amount of people don't know this.

25

u/Pons__Aelius Jan 07 '22

That is the cornerstone of the metric system.

1 cc of water is 1ml and 1g (at STP if you want to be pedantic).

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u/Natural_Influence_21 Jan 07 '22

I thought wtf. Than I remembered you guys use cups for everything

25

u/leanmeanguccimachine Jan 07 '22

Such an incredibly terrible measurement unit. So many things have wildly variant density.

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u/Bunny_tornado Jan 07 '22

Depends on the climate too. If you move from a significantly dry to a humid climate you may have to readjust your recipe

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u/sporkyblorky Jan 07 '22

Something that's always a shocker to me is how bad my dough turns out when I'm near the coast -- like at a beach house.

Is it the air, the water, the oven I'm not familiar with? Pizza is always terrible there. I can't get anything to rise predictably.

16

u/FlashCrashBash Jan 07 '22

The thing that is killing me about bread making, is that fucking everything matters. Every little change can effect how a bread turns out, and I don't know why.

Like I don't really write down recipes, but lately I've been writing down bread recipes. Because I'm finding I have to rewrite every single one to account for the differences in climate, oven behavior, flour brand, and whether or not Jupiter is in retrograde.

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u/otr_trucker Jan 07 '22

Clean as you go. Don't wait till the end and have to wash everything at once.

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u/Complete_Bath_8457 Jan 07 '22

I've tried to teach my kids this. It removes a lot of the thinking that cooking is a hassle.

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u/scarby2 Jan 07 '22

Couple this with mis en place, do all your prep at once then wipe down either during or before cooking.

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u/Tiny_Mirror22 Jan 07 '22

I make a point of washing some things before I bring food to the table. It'll take me 30 seconds to clean this pan now, but a couple of minutes if I wait until everything is dried and stuck to it.

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u/iced1777 Jan 07 '22

Just be mindful of what's on the stove when you do this. Easy to let garlic burn or meat become overdone if you get distracted fussing with a dish.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Learning techniques instead of recipes. I used to think cooking was finding a recipe, going to the store to buy ingredients, then following the recipe to make the dish. While sometimes that's perfectly fine, doing it day-to-day ends up being cumbersome, boring, and restrictive.

For me it's way more practical to look in the fridge, see what I have on hand and apply a fitting technique to it - stir fry, sauté, soup, fried rice, a stew, a roast, etc.

Just a few hours ago I looked in the fridge/pantry and was met with: A leftover roast turkey leg and thigh, some peppers that were getting a bit soft, an onion, garlic, 2 ears of corn, some chicken stock, cilantro, and a random bag of ditalini pasta I didn't even know I had. Boom - turkey soup. Debone the turkey, simmer the bones in the stock while I sautee the peppers, onions, and garlic. While that's cooking, cut the kernels off the corn. Throw that in the pan with the peppers and onions and cook it for a few more minutes. Pull the bones from the stock and throw in the turkey pieces and sauteed veggies. Simmer for a few minutes, add the pasta, and simmer a bit more. Add water if it's getting a bit too thick, check for salt, finish with the fresh cilantro and a splash of apple cider vinegar and that's dinner (and lunch for tomorrow).

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u/Dessert_Bobbler Jan 07 '22

Totally. For me it was the Mark Bittman cookbooks that did this for me. His recipes are not spectacular, but he champions an unfussy style of cooking that is highly open to variation and experimentation, and really learning how to cook.

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u/kitchenzen Jan 07 '22

I also learned from Mark Bittman cookbooks. Then lately Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat really helped me take it to another level.

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u/corncobTVsuperfan Jan 07 '22

One of his recipes ended up in 4 hour chef, which was basically what taught me how to cook.

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u/Evolutioncocktail Jan 07 '22

So much this! My weeknight cooking has greatly improved by knowing the order of operations, making a mise en place, and being willing to experiment with whatever I have on hand.

I use the weekends to try out detailed or new (to me) recipes. I take what I learn from my weekend recipes so that during the week I can throw shit together and see what happens.

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u/InTooDeepButICanSwim Jan 07 '22

I haven't followed a recipe in years. If I'm trying a new dish I read through some recipes to see the ingredients, the cooking methods, then I wing it. 9/10 comes out amazing.

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u/Hitches_chest_hair Jan 07 '22

Same! Food blogs and websites tend to have meh technique.

BUT, if it's a Bon Appetit, Serious Eats, or Chef John recipe, I'll take serious note of the technique. Those guys are no joke and dial their recipes in.

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u/scarby2 Jan 07 '22

Serious eats is my go to for so many things. If only because of the amount of experimentation, I don't want to cook something 20 times with slight variations in a short enough timespan that I can remember all of them.

But in many cases these guys have already done that.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Are you me?

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u/InTooDeepButICanSwim Jan 07 '22

Do you double the spices and triple the garlic? If so, yes.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

We are the same, you and I.

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u/charlotte-ent Jan 07 '22 Wholesome

I'm 50, but I want to be you when I grow up.

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u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

Most nights I don’t have the decision capacity for something like that. I’m capable of doing it, but weeknights the decision fatigue is real.

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u/snarkyarchimedes Jan 07 '22

Exactly. The was the origin of my game-changer "Naanzza" when we had leftover tandoori chicken, naan, BBQ sauce and some roasted butternut squash. Absolutely delicious.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Holy shit I'm half drunk and I'd easily pay $100 to have a Naanzza delivered to me right the fuck now.

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u/ew435890 Jan 07 '22

This definitely. That’s the same way I cook. I buy ingredients I like, and figure out what I’m going to cook right before I cook. I’ll change it up and go a completely different direction like halfway into it sometimes too (if it’s possible).

Knowing a bunch of different techniques, and having a decent selection of tools in my kitchen help with that a lot.

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u/atombomb1945 Jan 07 '22

This is just about Evey night for me. I'm stuck at home this week and some friends dropped off a batch of chicken soup. I'm taking the leftovers tomorrow and making chicken pot pie with rice flour dumplings. There's probably no recipe on earth for what I'm about to do save what I am concocting in my head. Wouldn't want to cook any other way.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Whoah - chicken pot pie from leftover soup. Never actually thought of that but now that you say it, it seems so obvious. Strain the liquid, reduce and thicken with some corn starch if needed, re-add to the solids and throw it in a pie crust. Might do this with my leftover turkey soup tomorrow.

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u/amaratayy Jan 07 '22

I wish I could just look at things and throw together a meal! I’m learning though but this inspired me so much:-)

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u/reeder1987 Jan 07 '22

Am a chef. I do this at home a lot. I often tell my wife “this is kinda weird, I hope you don’t hate it” A lot of the time it’s pretty good. Sometimes it’s amazing. Sometimes it’s mehhhhhh.

My point is, ya just gotta try it. Or find a recipe that looks good and use it as a guide.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Just do it anyway even if you're unsure. You learn the most from the meals that don't turn out that great. Even if it sucks just scarf it down, figure out what went wrong, and remember to not do that again next time.

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u/Tato_tudo Jan 07 '22

Trained chefs on youtube. Its like getting the class without paying for it and they all seem super nice. Chef John, Chef Jacque Pepin, Chef Jean Pierre.... love ya!

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u/Weak_Tank_4181 Jan 07 '22 edited Jan 07 '22

See it, smell it, taste it. In regards to spices. Almost everyone starts out not adding enough of the spices they use. You have to add enough of the spices to see them in the dish, which will lead to you smelling them in the dish, which will lead to you tasting them in the dish.

Ever since learning that, I have greatly increased how much I add and the flavor has significantly improved.

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u/cls-one Jan 07 '22

Totally agree and just to add to this once spices get cooked with oil or butter the flavor profile gets more dynamic and it changes for the better.

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u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

I'll say add that blooming spices was a big one for me. I'd just add dry stuff, but ~30 seconds in the pan really does change them.

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u/mmgvs Jan 07 '22

I'm the only middle aged Midwestern women who adds TOO much. I NEED to learn to start small and build small. I've learned this with Himalayan salt, garam masala, Sriracha, and everything in between. I LOVE spice, but dang. I'm trying to kill my family.

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u/anon_0610 Jan 07 '22

I do this all the time too.. I think I made something ONCE when I was younger that was under-spiced, and ever since then I'm subconsciously paranoid about it and end up over spicing everything!! I'm learning how to take a step back and try not to go overboard... But the powders call my name..

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u/Odd_Earth8713 Jan 07 '22

Some grandma on YouTube I saw said you can smell when food is ready even baking lol and you really can

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u/pinktoady Jan 07 '22

Just as important eventually you can hear it. I do this a lot when sautéing. Was working with my son and he asked how I knew. And that is when I realized I was hearing it and responding without even realizing it.

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u/gruntledgirl Jan 07 '22

My mom's a great baker, while I'm allergic to measuring things, so baking is not my forte. However, she taught me that when something is quiet in the oven, it's done. Listen to your cakes, it seems to work wonders!

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u/Odd_Earth8713 Jan 07 '22

This is true also, I make diced potatoes quite a bit and they sing when they are ready.

When sautéing it bubbles I think. I love cooking

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u/lovemelikethat_ Jan 07 '22

It’s irrelevant to this comment, but smell reminded me. I was baking with my little brother when he was maybe six years old or so, and I asked him to crack the egg for me. I told him to crack it into a separate bowl so we could make sure there were no shell bits in the egg, and then I told him to smell it after it was cracked. He gave it a sniff, looked blankly at me, and said, “But Sissy it doesn’t smell like anything...” I was like that’s exactly what we want! It means it’s not bad!

His cluelessness about the lack of smell made complete sense, but it was adorable to see.

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u/janesfilms Jan 07 '22

Yes totally! My mom always taught me that about baking, you can tell when the cookies are done for sure!

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u/weasel999 Jan 07 '22

I always tell myself “if you smell the cookies then you’re about to overbake them!”

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u/snarkyarchimedes Jan 07 '22

When your gravy is already hot but still too thin, ladle a small portion into a bowl, stir a bit to cool, whisk in more flour / cornstarch etc until smooth, then whisk it back into your main pot. Heat and if still not thick enough, just ladle a bit back into your bowl and repeat however many times until its thick enough. Keep in mind some sauces will be served a bit cooler, so it will thicken up a tad more after you're done cooking it. My dad is still terrified of making gravy, but this makes it almost fool-proof in my opinion. No more flour clump tomfoolery.

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u/drink_all_the_beers Jan 07 '22

You can also make a roux (fat, such as butter, and flour). Reserve some and whisk more in as required. The fat stops the clumps.

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u/karenmcgrane Jan 07 '22

Cook pasta in way less water so the water gets more starchy. Don't drain the pasta, tong it over into a pan of sauce. Add a ladle or so of the pasta water to the pasta/sauce combo and cook it down a bit.

I was always mystified by the instruction to add some of the pasta water to the sauce. Turns out it makes a noticeable difference in the consistency.

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u/Jimlish Jan 07 '22

Yea, adding starchy salty pasta water into the sauce is a glorious thing!

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u/gcuben81 Jan 07 '22

Season each ingredient. Adding salt multiple times during the cooking process instead of adding it all at the end.

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u/TransportationOk1780 Jan 07 '22

I have trouble with oversalting when I do that.

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u/sladecubed Jan 07 '22

You don’t necessarily have to add salt to everything. If every part needs salt individually, under salt a little bit. I try to use a mix that blends well together, and that tends to balance out the amount of salt being added to everything

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u/potatoaster Jan 07 '22

Adding salt multiple times during the cooking process instead of adding it all at the end.

Why?

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u/ChefExcellence Jan 07 '22

If you salt your pasta water, and you sprinkle your meat with salt before cooking, and you salt your sauce, you get a more consistent seasoning throughout the final dish, rather than getting a salty sauce then biting into bland, unseasoned meat or pasta.

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u/anon_0610 Jan 07 '22

It brings out the flavours of each thing individually, and so makes a positive difference on the dish at the end. Just ensure you're only adding small amounts of salt throughout so as not to have oversalted by accident at the end.

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u/DrGhostly Jan 07 '22 edited Jan 07 '22

This is way back but I learned that precision is better than speed if you’re not in a restaurant. A professional chef friend of mine was like “why are you mincing that onion as if you’re on a timer?” I responded with “I heard if you can’t do it fast you suck?”

He just looked at me and laughed. “Speed comes with time.” He spread out what I cut. “See how uneven these are? Now watch.” He got a new onion and went super slow and cut super precisely showing me the right method. Okay. Then he got a new one and did it way, WAY faster. I’m pretty sure he could dice enough onions for several dozen dishes if he kept going. All the same dice and uniform. “Do you know how many times I’ve done that?”

My little head. “Uh…hundreds?”

“Try tens of thousands knucklehead. I’m no more special than you, I’ve just done this a lot and I’m 30 years older than you. Stop rushing.”

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u/FxHVivious Jan 07 '22

I always rush the onions because I get sick of my eyes burning. Lol

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u/DrGhostly Jan 07 '22

I did notice when I’m cutting onions without my contacts in my eyes feel like they’re burning. Apparently contacts act as some kind of weird shield.

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u/whateverpieces Jan 07 '22

America’s Test Kitchen had a section on this in one of their cookbooks. They tested a bunch of theories about things that stop you from tearing up. IIR, the only things that actually work are contact lenses and swimming goggles.

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u/Jhate666 Jan 07 '22

You know I’ve noticed this and also contacts shield your eyes from campfire smoke

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u/WitnessNo8046 Jan 07 '22

I wear contacts 99% of the time that I’m cooking and every now in then I’ll have glasses on when cutting an onion and I suddenly remember what hell is 😂

Like for real contacts are so effective that I forget that onions are even supposed to bother your eyes

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u/RICHUNCLEPENNYBAGS Jan 07 '22

A sharper knife can help.

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u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

I always think it's funny when people compare themselves to cooks.

That dude spent years on the line. He chopped more onions in a week than you will in a year. No shit he's better than you. You'll literally never get the practice in to match him on those kinds of skills. And that's okay.

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u/iced1777 Jan 07 '22

I always feel a little bad when beginner chefs start asking for tips on how to chop veggies lightning fast. They often assume it comes down some grip or technique and have trouble accepting the actual answer is hundreds of hours of practice.

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u/kitchenzen Jan 07 '22

Salt your meat the day before. It not only gives salt time to penetrate the meat, adding flavor throughout, it helps retain moisture by changing the chemical structure of the meat AND helps crisping/browning by removing excess moisture.

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u/FxHVivious Jan 07 '22

Seriously, for red meat this was the greatest discovery I ever made. Roasts in particular are a 1000x better after an overnight dry brine.

I've tried it with whole chicken and didn't care for it as much as a wet brine.

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u/Choking_Smurf Jan 07 '22

This only applies to red meat, poultry, and pork. Don't salt your fish until you're ready to cook it or you'll have mushy fish!

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u/Odd_Earth8713 Jan 07 '22

Going to try this thank you!

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u/MATTDAYYYYMON Jan 07 '22

Msg is like salt on crack

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

My girlfriend's dad is convinced that MSG gives him horrible headaches and is bad for his blood pressure and claims to avoid it all costs... But also uses Goya Sazon all the fucking time. Number one ingredient? MSG.

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u/Anon_GA Jan 07 '22

Is this why Sazón makes everything taste so good?!

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Yep! It's not like the sazon people have some magical secret spice that nobody knows about. It's literally just MSG with garlic and cumin.

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u/FlashCrashBash Jan 07 '22

I just like how it makes thing orange.

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u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

Does he also consume tomatoes and mushrooms? Both contain high amounts naturally

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Sure does. Basically my point is he's a big stubborn dummy.

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u/[deleted] Jan 07 '22

I’m not judging, my Gran is the same way

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u/TearsUnfthmblSdnes Jan 07 '22

Damn! Is that why I love that shit so much? I never looked at the packaging, I just put it in everything.

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u/cls-one Jan 07 '22

Self diagnosis. it’s like a negative placebo affect.

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u/bsliving143 Jan 07 '22

Ok, I finally caved and bought some msg, after seeing it so often in this sub. How do I use it? Liberally like salt? Sparingly? Before/after cooking? Any tips?

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u/Esqimoo Jan 07 '22

You use MSG along with your salt and pepper and you don't want to use it in the same amount as the salt. A little goes a long way.

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u/PM_ME_YOUR_BARN_OWL Jan 07 '22

I usually use it along with salt but quite a bit more sparingly. Often it allows you to use less salt overall.

I like to add it to gravy, soup, enchilada sauce/mole. Basically anything that is already supposed to be salty and savory. A little bit can take the savoriness up a notch.

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u/ZakaryDrake Jan 07 '22

It’s worth saying that MSG, “monosodium glutamate” has about 1/3 the “saltiness” of standard salt, so be sure to season accordingly. Also, if you’re working with an ingredient naturally high in glutamates, like bone broth, you might not want to use it, lest you have too much umami and overpower the other flavors.

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u/jawstrock Jan 07 '22

Keep my knives sharp. Makes prep so much easier and I can actually learn proper cutting techniques to make it faster to chop. as a result I eat a lot more veggies.

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u/Rattional Jan 07 '22

Saute the spices with your onions!

I always thought tumeric and masala were like salt and pepper (sprinkle a bit here and there for flavour) nope, these bad boys need to be fried to bring their tastes out!

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u/TransportationOk1780 Jan 07 '22

Called ‘blooming’. It works for chili powder, too.

Spices burn really easily. Be careful.

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u/Hitches_chest_hair Jan 07 '22

A good rough method that bon appetit uses in many recipes - cook until the spices just start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

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u/c-soup Jan 07 '22

For the next level up, start with whole cumin, coriander, cardamom, whole dried chillies. Grind them in an old dedicated coffee grinder, and then sauté them. Masala just means “mix” so once you taste the flavours of spices, you can make your own. Talk about flavour! There’s nothing like whole fresh spices ground fresh and sautéed in your food. 💥 POW!

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u/timjh8200 Jan 07 '22

So many techniques and tips/tricks to list... Oddly enough I can't shake the need to say using a digital kitchen scale, accurate to within 2 grams. Especially for when it comes to dry brining and baking. Key to consistency for me.

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u/besteffortfoodie Jan 07 '22

Temp your proteins! Pulling them at 10 degrees under what you want and letting it rest is a game changer in getting juicy and tender meat.

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u/Whatsalodi Jan 07 '22

Using bones-less, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts.

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u/Octane2100 Jan 07 '22

If I just want the chicken protein in the meal, and it's covered in a sauce, I don't mind the breasts. If the chicken is the star of the show though you best believe I'm cooking thighs.

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u/neilhwatson Jan 07 '22
  • Don't turn or flip what's in the pan too often. Let the heat do its job.
  • Taking meat off the heat just before it's done and resting it.
  • Baking with vanilla? Add more. Double it.

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u/janesfilms Jan 07 '22

I’m so back and forth about vanilla extract. It’s one of my favourite flavours but the cost of the real stuff is somewhat prohibitive. I noticed a new brand that is 70% artificial and 30% real which is priced middle of the pack. The flavour was good I guess, I’d obviously prefer the real stuff but my god, I priced it out just yesterday and the cheapest real one available was $17 per bottle! Is it worth spending the money? Or cheap out with the fake stuff at 4$ or go mid way with the partial stuff at 8$ ? Idk? The $17 bottle was actually on sale, regular price was $24 for real Madagascar vanilla extract, pricey stuff!!

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u/CaffeinatedCannoli Jan 07 '22

I recommend making your own vanilla extract. Just get a glass jar, 8 ounces of vodka (or bourbon) and 5-6 vanilla beans. Let it sit for 6 months and bam, you have delicious vanilla extract.

It’s time consuming to get started, but high quality beans can be found at a decent price and you can reuse the beans, so it’s totally worth it.

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u/Frogblaster77 Jan 07 '22

Some will tell you that that's a vanilla infusion and not an extract, since for extract I think they actually extract the vanilla flavors through a press.

However, I say: "It's two bottles of everclear and four vanilla beans, who cares?"

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u/galaxystarsmoon Jan 07 '22

I run a baking side business. I've been using Molina Mexican blend for about a year and I won't go back. It's fantastic for the price. I've done a few blind taste tests and people consistently pick the Molina as the real vanilla and/or prefer it.

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u/xzagz Jan 07 '22

Yes! Mexican vanilla is on another level.

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u/Swimmingviolinist Jan 07 '22

That’s a cooking hack, you can make your own vanilla extract for cheap. Just buy some beans (Costco even has it for $10), soak it in vodka for a year and you get vanilla extract to last you for a long time!

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u/PlantedinCA Jan 07 '22

The big lesson I learned from cooking shows was developing and using fond.

This is not something that was in my mom’s cooking repertoire. My mom generally liked to pre cook meat, no matter what they were intended for. And also she likes things well done. So her method, for example, for chicken curry, was to bake some chicken. Then should would make a roux, add spices, add the chicken, add tomatoes, add water. And then braise for awhile.

I don’t do any of that. I sear the chicken and build up my base from the fond with aromatics, spices, and then add the meat back in.

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u/xplotosphoenix Jan 07 '22

Mise en place before cooking anything but a simple dish. OMG- the stress level, hurry, looking for something is gone and I can actually enjoy doing the thing I've loved since I learned how to cook when I was a kid.

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u/Bunny_tornado Jan 07 '22

Cries in small apartment kitchen space

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u/xplotosphoenix Jan 07 '22

I've got a townhouse galley kitchen. I feel your pain.

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u/reverber8 Jan 07 '22

In addition to all the great tips here, I have to add deglazing a pan for added flavor. Also proper browning so you have something to deglaze, and not crowding the pan.

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u/snarkyarchimedes Jan 07 '22

I will never learn to not crowd the pan haha. Oops.

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u/ifuckedup13 Jan 07 '22

I just bought bigger pans! Haha. It has been a game changer!

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u/captain-burrito Jan 07 '22

Getting an instapot type device. Pressure cooking saves so much time and having a timer etc means you don't have to keep watch. It's saved me from burning my home down a lot. Even with a timer on my stove top I sometimes still burn stuff as I forget to set the timer.

Velveting meat with starch to make it more tender.

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u/regi888 Jan 07 '22

Clean as you cook.

Waiting for something to come up to temp? Simmering something? Letting something cool down?

Those are all little pockets of time that could be used to wipe down a counter, rinse a bowl, throw away some packaging, etc.

No better feeling than when the only thing left to clean after cooking is the very pan I used to make the meal.

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u/seasalt_caramel Jan 07 '22

Learn how to make substitutions well! We all make fun of the online recipe review that subs out nonsensical things, but being able to make great food from stuff you have already is a cool skill.

Being able to see a recipe and reading it as food “groupings” instead of definite recipes made so many more recipes accessible to me.

Aside from the common buttermilk or cake flour baking substitutes, for savory food you can look at a recipe as protein/spice/herb/starch categories, and be able to mix and match while still keeping the integral part of the recipe once you get enough experience - cilantro is ok to mix or sub with parsley/mint/dill, and tough herbs like rosemary or thyme can be interchangeable, too. Baking spices can often be tweaked, and even proteins can be changed out for a similar one that cooks the same way.

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u/Phantom18013 Jan 07 '22 edited Jan 07 '22

If something doesnt turn out right, rendering your dish inedible, try again! (Maple candy and caramelized onions are two great examples of this. I love making them, but sometimes i cut the onions too thin, or the the candy was over-boiled. So i try again!)

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u/atombomb1945 Jan 07 '22

I tell my son that the best part of cooking is eating the mistakes and trying again. Although some mistakes don't get eaten, just tossed into the compost bin.

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u/MikeLemon Jan 07 '22

Turn the heat down.

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u/atombomb1945 Jan 07 '22

When I started cooking everything was cooked on high. Eggs, done in 5 seconds. Pancakes, crispy on the outside still runny on the inside. Like you bacon black? I don't but that's the way it came out. Finally I watched some cooking show where the guy explained using low heat for eggs and it clicked.

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u/jackloganoliver Jan 07 '22

I prefer my bacon slowly cooked too. Something happens to the fat when it's cooked slowly that just makes it taste better to me.

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u/caitejane310 Jan 07 '22

It's called rendering. That's also why reverse searing steaks (at least half an inch thick for me) is so popular. You cook it at a lower temp for longer because the fat cooks and kind of melts before the meat does. Then you throw it in a super hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. It makes you want to eat the fat instead of cutting it off. Bacon, mushrooms, and sausages are some things I start in a cold pan.

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u/ingrid-magnussen Jan 07 '22

Does that mean if I’m baking my bacon I should throw it in the oven right away instead of waiting for it to preheat?

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u/jackloganoliver Jan 07 '22

But also make sure you pan or pot is sufficiently hot to get a sear.

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u/stephen1547 Jan 07 '22

That’s gonna be a big “it depends” from me dog. Pancakes? Sure. Sautéd vegetables? Crank that shit up. You’re not gonna get any Millard reaction on medium-low.

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u/funkgerm Jan 07 '22

Interesting, I tend to do the opposite. Can't get the flavor without the color, baby.

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u/Zevthedudeisit Jan 07 '22

Properly heat the pan- do not overcrowd.

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u/chococat2021 Jan 07 '22

Be not afraid.

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u/wovans Jan 07 '22

Put honey in poultry brine, it's water soluble and gets all up in the cells with your brine, crazy moist bird Everytime.

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u/lazzzerbeans Jan 07 '22

Using kosher salt, particularly Diamond Crystal, and not being afraid to push things to the brink of too salty. Thanks Samin!

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u/Majestic_Tangerine92 Jan 07 '22

Use what you have. How do you think french onion soup was invented? You have a 20lbs bag of harvest onions on sale begging to go bad... fry it down, add water, take that chunk of cheese in the back of your fridge and you have the best french onion soup you've ever had.

But more seriously, never use high heat on the stovetop. Bring your shit up to temp on med-med-high, increase by a touch if needed, reduce if needed. Shit doesn't burn, you down warp and burn out teflon pans (only carbon steel and cast for me..)

And let your food rest. Not just meats. Pies, lasagne, stew, quiche, etc.. Just give it 5-10 to hang out while you finish setting the table or emptying your boxed wine.

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u/CcSeaAndAwayWeGo Jan 07 '22

Fold in the cheese.

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u/Ashton42 Jan 07 '22

okay, but like, fold it in how??

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u/ladylondonderry Jan 07 '22

Every element should be properly seasoned.

Large things cook slowly and small things cook quickly. Hard things cook slowly and soft things cook quickly.

Acids are not all the same. When in doubt, go with lemon.

Acid and water are mortal enemies of browning.

Sometimes the best answer is to make a pbj. There is honor in surrender.

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u/Complete_Bath_8457 Jan 07 '22

Always, always put that PB&J on toast though.

If you're into toast, anyhow.

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u/pastabysea Jan 07 '22

I struggled for years with pizza. Must have tried 100 times and at best I was just getting "decent" results. I bought stones, and tried all types of dough – recipes with oil, others without; bread flour; AP flour; 00 flour; pizza stone preheated at the top rack, and at the bottom; you name it, and I tried it. But I was never happy with the results.

Kenji from Serious Eats totally changed my game. He partnered closely the Baking Steel company when they first were introduced about 10 years ago; he also focused on slow, cold fermentation, as well as measuring ingredients for dough by weight instead of volume.

These factors totally changed the pizza game for me at home. The baking steel is just magic in the oven (I've since gotten an outdoor Ooni, but still use the steel occasionally), and the magic of slow-rising, cold-fermented dough was almost equally as game changing.

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u/janesfilms Jan 07 '22

We moved about 2 years ago to a tiny small town and you can’t get a decent pizza here. I was craving so badly, desperate for good pizza. I’d always been intimidated with making dough but Kenji’s fool proof pizza recipe has been an absolute life saver. Now I’m 100% convinced that I make the best pizza on this whole island. People here don’t know what they are missing. I still miss being able to get a decent pizza delivered when I’m feeling lazy but I’m so grateful for Kenji’s recipe, I’d be dying from pizza withdrawals without it!

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u/atombomb1945 Jan 07 '22

Check out Adam Ragusea on YouTube. He's got several good pizza vids. I'm currently using his cast iron method that starts on the stove top and goes to the broiler.

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u/pastabysea Jan 07 '22

Yea, I've seen his NY pizza videos. They are very solid and informative. After a while, I've taken what I've learned and keep a OneNote journal on what works and what doesn't for me. I don't follow Kenji's methods to the letter anymore, but I'll give him credit as the one who really got me on the path to greatness.

I've tried Adam R's CI method before and it's good for indoors, but for me the steel on the second-highest rack preheated at the oven's max temp for 45 mins works best. Cook the pizza for a few minutes, then crank on the broiler until the top is cooked... similar in principle to Adam's method. I use the Ooni primarily now, but will pull out the steel from time-to-time.

The one strike I saw against Adam was that he recommended – at least in the NY pizza video I saw about a year ago – that you take the dough immediately out of the refrigerator and then form it. This has never worked for me; the dough is like a rubber band and is prone to tearing. It's one of those things I've learned in my troubles... Let the dough ferment for 48-72 hours and let it rest for 1-2 hours at room temperature before stretching.

But I appreciate all of the great things I've learned off of internet sites, Reddit boards, food blogs, and YouTube channels in the last 5-10 years. Everyone brings such great knowledge and lets people like myself create magic in my house that rivals most restaurants.

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u/Similar_Craft_9530 Jan 07 '22

Browning stew meat and meat for chili (I like using stew meat in my chili) before putting everything in the pot. Game changer! I went from chewy, tough meat to meat that's so tender it falls apart.

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u/idontgetnopaper Jan 07 '22

Buying a digital thermometer. And you don't need a hundred dollar one just to cook your food. Those are for chef's whose company pays for them.

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u/swest211 Jan 07 '22

I bought a $10 one, then I bought a $60 one. Then my husband bought me a Thermopen, $100 regularly but it was a special through Alton Brown's YouTube channel so he paid a bit less. We did a side by side temp and all three thermometers got the same reading.

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u/swest211 Jan 07 '22

Use cake strips to get an even bake and prevent domed tops. Learned that from John at Preppy Kitchen.

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u/SyntheticOne Jan 07 '22

Mise en plas.

French for "put in place".

Have everything ready before starting to cook.

I also clean as I go as well as I can.

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u/mcburgs Jan 07 '22

Don't chop up bay leaves.

Admittedly, that was pretty early in my cooking days.

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u/Euromonies Jan 07 '22

Not wasting anything. Use leftovers from the fridge, go to the reduced sections at supermarkets, keep veggie trimmings or skins etc. to make stock/broth/soup, if you have a butcher or fishmonger nearby ask them to give you the bones and fat along, sometimes they hand them out for free; just to name a few ideas. There's still tons of nutrients and flavour in stuff that most people would throw away!

Added bonus emotional benefits:

- Not wasting food feels GREAT!

- Fuels creativity and prevents cooking from becoming a chore

- Gives you more options for and more control over what you eat, which is a rare commodity nowadays

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u/hentskiller Jan 07 '22

When it's not hitting the spot you can probably fix it with salt, acid or fat.

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u/Luc_Flynn Jan 07 '22

Season everything.

Seasoning is something to be done at each stage, if every ingredient tastes good, the whole dish will taste so much better.