Some of you may already have all of the awesome kitchen skills and knowledge passed down through family and friends. Others learned through hands-on experience and training in a class or restaurant. However, not all of us have a kitchen guide (you know the one that has the crazy secret knowledge you didn’t even realize existed) to pass anything down to us. Even for some of us who DO have one, it doesn’t mean they’re throwing around the same skills and information as another.
Tips – Tricks – Techniques
I’m going to share some different tips, tricks, and techniques that are useful for beginners, as well as those who thought they knew but just found out. Take me for example. I thought I knew enough about using onions, but I just learned the true uses of the varieties the other day. There’s like 20 or more varieties of onions on this planet. I’m going to tell you a little bit about seven of them.
Yellow Onions: This is an all-around general onion that can be used in the culinary world as both cooked and raw.
Red Onions: This sweet variety is mild enough to be enjoyed raw. If you’re looking to add a little red/purple color to a dish that calls for onion here it is. Toss them into salads, on sandwiches, burgers, in salsa, and guacamole
Sweet Onions: This variety is larger and flatter than a yellow onion and they contain a higher sugar content making them perfect for caramelizing. This onion is great in stir-fry dishes. I like to caramelize them and put them on a burger or over steak.
White Onions: White onions have a sweeter and milder flavor than yellow and can be used as a replacement for a red onion.
Green Onions: AKA Chives – scallions – spring onions. These are incredible for soups, stews, dips, and as a topping for nachos and baked potatoes with sour cream.
Shallots: This onion is an acquired taste; however if they’re used right they’re delicious. This onion has a garlicky flavor, so it should be used in dishes that call for both onions and garlic so you get the best of both worlds rolled into one.
Leeks: These guys get the cold shoulder for some reason and they don’t deserve it. They are incredibly delicious in soups, stews, and sauces.
I am a fan of fried or baked onion rings. I learned that Vidalia onions, which are a yellow onion, are one of the most popular varieties used. They are large and sweet with just enough crunch and a slight oniony spice.
I have used numerous gadgets in and around the kitchen. Some of them are the bee’s knees but something I noticed is that some things are best left done in the old-school or traditional way. When I make bread using a special bread mixer and a bread machine, sure the bread is really good! It just doesn’t taste like anything that ever came out of my predecessors or elder’s kitchen.
One older kitchen gadget that still popular today is the crockpot. Crockpots are such an incredible way to cook various meals. Life can be busy, so when you want healthy food that you don’t have to stand over and babysit, pull out the crockpot. Soups, stews, chili, and roasts can all be made in this kitchen marvel. You can spend a little time with the preparation, toss it all in, set it, and forget it. At least for a few hours. You can even make cheese dips, desserts, and some breakfast food using a crockpot or slow cooker. Check out these incredible slow cooker recipes from Delish
Spices & Seasonings
A lot of people shy away from exploring spices and seasonings because there are so many, and that can be intimidating. Especially, if you don’t know which ones work well with what food. Don’t be afraid to explore, start small scale, and follow recipes you find that sound good. The more you practice cooking different dishes calling for different spices and seasonings the more you learn what pairs well with what. Try tasting the spice or seasoning alone and see if you like it.
When I first moved out of my mom’s house I stuck to like four or five basic spices, seasonings, or flavorings. They were the ones I was most comfortable with. My mom, however, had a lot of spices that she used often, I guess I didn’t pay enough attention to that part. The more I cooked with others and tried other recipes the less space I had open on my spice rack. Look for recipes of your favorite dishes (even those from your favorite restaurants) and try them out. Become one with the flavor…. Too much?
Kitchen & Cooking Thermometers
My mom and other family members always had a meat thermometer and I thought they were pretty handy. However, when I moved out on my own I didn’t have it listed as essential for my kitchen stuff; I just didn’t think about it. Well, not until I made chicken and found myself cutting the center of each piece to ensure it was fully-cooked!
Meat Thermometer – Temps most meats including, poultry, beef, pork, fish, and lamb
Candy & Deep Fry Thermometer – Candy involves cooking sugar up to temperatures as high as 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil needs to be extremely hot to cook the food completely, not just the outer part.
Oven Thermometers – These are great to keep track of the temp your oven is running. If by chance the lights go out on your digital thermometer on the stove or oven this thermometer will come in handy.
Refrigerator Thermometer – Different foods should always remain at specific temperatures for them to stay fresh. A little refrigerator thermometer can be placed inside the fridge so you can see what it is exactly to make adjustments.
There are tons of tips, tricks, and techniques when it comes to the kitchen. This article covered a few simple basics for those just learning. Let me know if you’re interested in more; I’d love to share more tips with you.