This post is brought to you by Hampton Creek.
When you cook for your family on a daily basis, it can start to feel like a chore even if you love to spend time in the kitchen. It’s easy to get into a recipe rut of cooking the same meals repeatedly, which feels boring and uninspired. Maybe you wish you could get better results in your home kitchen, to improve your confidence and feel like your time cooking for your family is well spent.
Looking for ways to improve your cooking can be challenging, with cookbooks from famous chefs that contain difficult techniques and call for expensive, hard-to-source ingredients.
However, there are many ways to improve the taste of your homemade dishes that don’t require expensive tools or ingredients, or spending hours perfecting a little-known technique. Making a few small changes can improve the taste of recipes you already feel comfortable cooking. Here are some simple, practical tips you can try today that will help take your cooking to the next level.
1. Use More Salt and Pepper
One reason restaurant food has so much more flavor than most home-cooked meals is the amount of salt and pepper. Forget any amounts stated in an ingredients list and add salt and pepper to your own taste. Add just enough salt to enhance all the other flavors, and just enough pepper so you can taste it.
2. Season As You Go
With salt, pepper and other spices, it’s best to add a little seasoning at every step of cooking rather than waiting until the end. This helps deepen the flavor and also encourages you to taste along the way, another key to the proper amount of seasoning.
3. Use High Heat
The key to rich flavor, especially for meats, is to sear the outside. This only happens at high heat. Searing, roasting and browning should all be done in a very hot pan or oven to get the additional flavor from caramelization.
4. Cook Low and Slow
If you aren’t searing or roasting, try the opposite approach and braise your dish. Slow cooking on a low heat creates a deep, complex flavor and can be a great choice particularly for tough cuts of meat. Essentially, most cooking should be done at high or low heat, as a middle ground usually leads to mediocre results.
5. Ditch Low Fat Dairy
If you are cooking or baking with yogurt, sour cream, milk or other dairy products, use the full-fat versions. Low fat or fat free options will usually lead to poor results, especially when baking. If you’re baking a dessert anyway, you may as well just enjoy the decadent treat and use the ingredients that will give the best results.
6. Add a Sauce
It’s no wonder that nearly every type of cuisine is built upon a few basic sauces. Bechamel, aioli, curry and gravy are just some examples of sauces that add an enormous amount of flavor and make humble dishes feel gourmet.
7. Think Simple
Some of the most famous and beloved dishes aren’t built around dozens of ingredients. Rather, they’re about taking a few high-quality ingredients, using a simple preparation, and letting the quality of the food speak for itself.
8. Choose Fresh or Frozen Veggies
Basically, stay away from canned vegetables, which are usually mushy and extremely salty. Fresh, seasonal veggies or good-quality frozen ones will both give better results than canned.
9. Use Good Products
When you buy pre-made items such as salad dressing, be sure to choose high-quality offerings with natural ingredients. Hampton Creek makes healthy mayo, salad dressings and other products that help boost flavor in your dishes.
10. Cook Things You Enjoy
One of the easiest ways to ensure your cooking is at its best is to choose things you enjoy eating. You’ll have more motivation and better results when you are having fun with the process and excited about the meals you are creating.
While cooking fancy, gourmet food might be appealing, it’s not always practical when the goal is to get dinner on the table for your family. Fortunately, there are several easy tips that you can incorporate into your cooking that will make your food taste better. Seasoning properly, using the right amount of heat and choosing high-quality ingredients are relatively simple things, but can make a big difference in how your dishes taste. It’s also important to choose dishes you enjoy cooking, as that will help you enjoy time in the kitchen. The right small changes can have delicious results.