Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Best 10 tips to becoming a pro in the kitchen + Tonight's recipe:

Ever thought of yourself as a lost course in the kitchen? Well friend, you don't have to put yourself down at all because not everyone is cut out for the kitchen. But we know you sometime want to entertain a couple of your friends and family at home and maybe you don't want 
to eat out, now you find that a big problem! Not to worry, here are top ten cooking tips you need that would make you become an expert in a week.
1. Add to what you know
Constantly increasing your knowledge of cooking is important because you already know the basics of cooking and you are interested in improving your skills. Search for recipes on the web and in cookery books, read them through even if it is a recipe for a meal you think you have perfected. With Nigerian food recipes, and any other world recipe, there are often many ways to cook a meal and achieve the same results. So there's always something new to learn. When you eat a familiar meal and you notice an improvement in the taste, it is good to ask the cook what he/she did to achieve that.
2. Timing
This is one of the top tips of how to become a better cook because you may know all the ingredients you need, spend a lot of money on premium ingredients but get the timing wrong and all the money and time spent goes to nothing. Knowing the right time to add certain ingredients goes a long way to making your food taste better.
3. Organisation
Some things need to be done before you even light up the stove for example; you can take your time and cut up every vegetable that needs to be chopped, place them in separate bowls and set aside. This is so that once it is time to add these, it will be a matter of putting them into the pot rather than hurriedly washing and cutting them up just before you add them.
4. Attention to detail
Watch out for how your cooking can benefit from low, medium or high heat. Sometimes, you need high heat to get that white rice to dry quicker as medium heat will cause it to become soggy.
5. Have the basic tools you need
Something as basic as a chopping board is essential in the kitchen. It will help you cut the carrots or green bell pepper better as opposed to doing these without. It may be worth investing in that expensive blender because it gives you the best tomato puree etc.

6. Plan Ahead
It is a good idea to plan what you want to cook well ahead of time. This is so that you can be sure to buy all the necessary ingredients for preparing the recipe.
7. Choose your time carefully
It is best to cook when you are sure you will have minimal distraction. Do not plan to cook when your favourite TV programme is on air or on a day you brought some work home. The less you are distracted from your cooking, the better attention you will pay to the preparation of the meal. This way, there will be no burnt/overcooked meals later!
8. Give yourself plenty of time
Always give yourself plenty of time to cook your chosen recipe. With practice, you can estimate the time it will take to cook, say, a pot of fried rice before it is meal time. This way, you will not need to rush through your cooking. Also, if you invited friends over for a meal, you do not want to be dashing to and from the kitchen when you should be talking with your visitors.
9. Be adventurous in the kitchen
Feel free to throw a few vegetables in the frying pan to make your very own gravy. You can start by using your favourite vegetables, then eliminate and substitute later if you feel that some of them do not fit in the mix due to their taste or texture. Soon, you will be wowing your friends and family with a recipe that started as a concoction! Remember, it is your kitchen so play with the ingredients as much as you want.
10. Often does it
Practice, they say, makes perfect. The more often you cook, the more you learn new and better ways of the art of cooking. The frequency of cooking also boosts your confidence in the kitchen. Let's say you cook fried rice every weekend, you will be perfecting on the different stages of the cooking such as parboiling the rice more than if you cook it only once every 3 months.
TONIGHT'S RECIPE: Grilled Tomato Ketchup with Grilled Onions and Yellow Pepper

TOTAL TIME:1 hr 20 min                 Prep: 20 min                 Inactive Prep: 5 min                
Cook: 55 mins
YIELD: 4 servings; 2 cups ketchup
3 pounds Roma tomatoes, cored and halved
1/2 cup malt vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons aji amarillo paste, chipotle in adobo or other spicy pepper sauce, such as Pickapeppa
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 small bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium onion, cut into 1/2-inch rounds, rings separated
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch strips
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
For the ketchup: Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Grill the tomatoes skin-side down until dark grill lines appear, about 5 minutes, and then flip and cook until nicely charred and sagging, about 10 more minutes. Remove, chop into pieces, and transfer to a medium saute pan over medium heat. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt, aji amarillo paste, allspice, bay leaf and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture looks very dry and the tomatoes no longer hold their shape, 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick and bay leaf, and then blend the mixture to a smooth, thick sauce about the consistency of store-bought ketchup. If the ketchup is too thick, add 1 tablespoon water at a time and blend until desired consistency is reached.
For the burgers: Sprinkle the onions and peppers with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Grill the onions and peppers until well-charred and softened, flipping once, about 6 minutes. Remove and set aside. Wipe off the grill to cook the burgers.
 Divide the ground beef into four 6-ounce patties, 4 inches wide and 1-inch thick. Brush the burgers with the remaining oil and sprinkle both sides with salt and black pepper. Grill the burgers until visibly cooked more than halfway up the bottom, about 4 minutes, then flip and grill 4 minutes longer for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board or plate to let rest for 5 minutes.
 Place the burgers on the buns and top each with 2 tablespoons of the ketchup, 3 or 4 pepper strips and 4 or 5 onion rings. Serve.
Cook's Note: Save any extra ketchup in the refrigerator and use for other recipes, such as grilled pork chop

We sincerely hope this article helped you all, feel free to add your tips here on the site, comments and suggestions are welcome. We will reply every comment posted.
Happy cooking!



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