There is something truly satisfying about creating a meal from scratch. I’m talking the kind of meal that is accompanied by the bread you baked and the baba ganoush you lovingly roasted, mushed and spiced.
Good culinary abilities do not happen overnight, but come after years of practice and refined techniques.
A number of chefs and home cooks have shared their top tips to help others improve their culinary skills. The advice was offered after one user on anonymous forum Reddit asked,” Chefs of Reddit, what’s your number one useful cooking tip?”
Garlic is not just for bread
"Roasted garlic. Garlic is cheap and you don't even need a ceramic garlic roaster (although having one in the kitchen looks good). Just slice off the top of the bulbs and cover with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in tin foil and place in the oven at [170 degrees Celsius] for 50-60 minutes. You can add it to sauces, spread on bread etc. etc."
"A neat feature of roasted garlic is that over time its chemical composition breaks down into more and more sugar, so any sauce you make with it will become sweeter. I make tomato sauce with it and it's delicious to begin with, but just a few days later it tastes twice as good."
Listen: Superstar chef Matt Moran shares the secret to the perfect roast chicken. (Post continues after audio.)
"When a recipe calls for garlic, people need to try adding both raw garlic and roasted garlic. The raw garlic will still have that sharpness and bite (when cooked), but the roasted garlic adds an entirely different dimension, a mellow, earthy flavour, and the two compliment each other very well."
The perfect chocolate cake
"Pastry chef here. Not my best tip but the only one I can think of this early on my day off — flouring pans for cakes is a step not to be skipped but when it comes to chocolate cakes, it looks awful. So for dark cakes, I use cocoa powder instead."
"DO NOT use sweetened cocoa powder or semi-sweet, as the sugar will caramelise."
Simplicity is key
"Keep it simple. Something with 3-4 ingredients that go really well together is better than something with 12 ingredients that clash with each other."
The secret seasoning
"When salt isn't 'helping' a dish, what's missing is acid. Lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid (if you have some) transforms a dish in a surprising way."
The magic of microwaves
"Many of the best chefs in the world use the microwave intelligently. Freeze sauces and put them in freezer bags stacked in the freezer. Don't be pretentious about using a microwave, but also learn its strengths and weaknesses."
"A sharp knife is a safe knife."
"Use your knuckles to guide the blade, keep your thumb back and your fingers tucked. It will feel awkward at first, just practice and never let yourself do it the wrong way." (Post continues after gallery.)
"Best tip I ever got was for frying eggs. Have it on a medium temperature, NOT roasting hot, and once you've cracked your egg, cover it. Use a pot lid or something. This means your egg cooks from the top and the bottom, so you get a perfect runny yolk without any under-cooked white around it."
A telling taste
"Taste often, and at every stage of cooking. Make sure you taste it before you serve it."
A recipe reviewer
"I always try to look at three recipes before I cook something new. From there I usually freestyle, but if you're less confident just pick one. By looking at a few you get a better idea of key ingredients and ratios."
"Put butter on or in nearly everything. Mount it (add it while swirling or whisking) into a sauce at the end of cooking. Baste meat or fish in it. Chefs put butter into way more things than you think."