Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Learn the Basics of Cooking and Baking

Question: How can I tell if a recipe I haven't tried before will come out well?

Answer: It's easy, once you learn the basics of cooking and baking.

1. Study basic preparation techniques.
You'll be able to tell at a glance if what the recipe is asking you to do is consistent with proper cooking or baking methods.

2. Bone up on spices and flavorings to learn what goes with what.
Learn the classic taste combinations and you'll be able to tell if what the recipe is calling for makes sense.

3. Develop an understanding of ingredients and what function they perform in a recipe.
Salt, for example, is added for more than just taste.

In yeast doughs, salt helps regulate the speed at which the yeast grow so the resulting dough is nicely textured.

In pickling, salt draws out moisture so the pickles become crisp.

When cooking pasta, salt is added to the cooking water to slightly change the boiling point so the cooked pasta comes out firm and not mushy.

With a basic knowledge of ingredients, you'll be able to tell if what the recipe is calling for (and the amount) sound right.

4. Sometimes you just have to experiment.
That's part of the fun of cooking. You may get disappointed occasionally but often you get a great result!


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