Sunday, 8 June 2014

Cooking Tips & Tricks

01:22 Posted by Dhaval Bhandari

  • I use the scoop and level method when measuring flour. This means dipping the measuring cup into the flour container, scooping the flour into the cup, and then leveling by running the straightedge of a butter knife over the top. I am not freakishly accurate here. If there’s a lump or two that is technically higher than the edge of the measuring cup, it’s okay. Just don’t level so low that you scoop out some of the flour below the cup edge. I’d rather you have slightly too much flour than not enough. Why? Because it’s oh-so-easy to add extra liquid to a recipe that’s a little dry because of too much flour. On the other hand, once you add all the liquid to a recipe, you can’t take it out again if it’s too runny because of not enough flour.

Cooking tips and tricks

  • Don’t overcrowd the pan! I’m frequently asked, “Why didn’t my meat brown nicely like in the photo?” The answer is overcrowding in the pan. Piling meat into a skillet creates steam, which prevents meats from browning properly. The trick is not to let the pieces of meat touch each other when you put them in the pan, even if it means cooking the meat in batches.

  • The third trick to a good browning of ingredients is not to turn food too early or often. Set the meat in the skillet and don’t touch it! No matter how badly you want to lift it up after a minute, don’t. Wait a couple of minutes and then lift the meat gently. If it doesn’t come up easily, it isn’t ready to be turned. Once it is seared, it will lift easily for flipping. I promise.

  • When measuring coconut flour, measure the amount the recipe calls for using the scoop and level method, and then dump it into a sifter (over your mixing bowl) and sift.

  • If a recipe calls for “coconut oil, melted,” it means to measure first and then melt. I’ve found that measuring after melting and melting after measuring gives you pretty much the same result, but for baking recipes, I measure before melting. If it’s summer, of course, it doesn’t matter because the oil will already be in liquid form.
  • Another common mistake is not cooking in a hot enough pan. The secret to a good sear or caramelized veggie (apart from avoiding overcrowding) is a hot pan. Putting food into a hot pan also prevents sticking. A good way to know whether your pan is hot enough is to check that the oil has little ripples in it. Oil that isn’t hot enough just looks clear.
  • Be sure to give meat a ten-minute rest after cooking before you slice it. Doing so will ensure that the juices stay where they belong. Cutting immediately after cooking releases the juices all over the cutting board and leaves you with dry meat. Not good.
  • Doubling the coconut flour in a recipe doesn’t yield the proper results. There’s no magic formula, but I generally use slightly less than double the amount of coconut flour, and adjust the liquids as needed. For example, if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup coconut flour (doubled would be 1/2 cup), I would bring it down to 1/3 cup or even 1/4 cup plus 1 or 2 tablespoons when doubling. It’s always better to err on the side of not quite enough coconut flour than too much.
  • Always, always use parchment paper for baking. With Paleo ingredients, baked goods will usually spread flat as pancakes if baked directly on a baking sheet. Parchment paper helps baked goods hold their shape, promotes nice brown bottoms, and makes for easy cleanup. Look for unbleached parchment paper at health food stores.
  • Short on time? Cut meats such as chicken, pork, and beef into bite-sized chunks to speed cooking time. I don’t advise using this method for grilling meats, however. Just trust me on that one.
  • For optimal flavor, use fresh herbs when called for. In a pinch, though, dried herbs can replace fresh. Remember that you need much less of a dried herb because the flavors are more concentrated.
  • Precook a few sweet potatoes for paleo lunches at the beginning of the week. Peel, dice, toss in coconut oil, and oven-roast them at 450°F for twenty minutes or until they are soft but firm and not mushy. Refrigerate them until needed on a busy morning (which is pretty much every morning in our house).

Hope you like these cooking tips and tricks...