Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Kitchen tips for beginners

My old an shabby list
Since my recipes usually are very simple and quite perfect for beginners I feel compelled to give a few kitchen tips to get you started.

See, a kitchen is like an instrument and the recipe is like the piece of music you intend to play on your instrument. Like with any instrument there is a likelihood of messing up your performance if the instrument is not kept in good working order. So if your piano has a broken key you should make damn sure that for the particular piece you intend to play you don't need that key.

The few rules I brought together are sort of common sense but amazingly often they are not obeyed and then the chef runs into trouble. Only very experienced chefs with a talent for improvisation should allow themselves to not comply. I know: It all sounds horribly complicated and a lot to remember, but I am not talking about boiling an egg or heating a tin of soup; I am not talking about playing a jingle, I am talking about playing a hit record on your instrument. For that you would need a bit of practice as well, wouldn't you?

So here it goes:
  1. Read through your recipe several days before you want to use it, and scan it for stuff you need to buy/defrost/prepare way beforehand.
  2. Go shopping, defrost or prepare accordingly
  3. Tidy your kitchen before you start even preparing. You will need much more space then you will ever expect. Even I am sometimes surprised. Have your bin emptied - nothing worse than having both hands full of rubbish while something is boiling over - have your surface space maximised, and all the tools you need cleaned.
  4. See for towels, pot holders, something you can put a hot pot/tray on when you take it off the hob/out of the oven... oh so many worktops have burn stains... that will not help to get the rent deposit back.
  5. Now take your recipe again and
    • get all the tools you need and the ingredients out of the cupboards. That gives you a first indication for space needed.
    • read carefully about what to do when, find out if the oven needs to be pre-heated (usually 10 minutes before you need the hot oven)
    • if needed do all the cutting and slicing first, even if you only need something later in the process.
  6. In order to get things evenly cooked try cut/spoon similar sizes if they have to go into one pot/tray. For baking this is particularly important.
  7. If you scribbled down a recipe on a sheet of paper, hold on to it forever. As soon as you write it down neatly to file it, you will lose it - that is one of the modern Murphy's Laws
  8. Ovens come in different sizes. If you want to buy an additional tray or grill make sure to measure carefully or to get an adjustable one.
  9. A moist cloth under a mixing bowl will stop it from slipping
  10. Baking paper for biscuits can usually be re-used several times during a baking session.
So: Now you are ready to go!

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