My top 10 cooking tips:

  1. Generally, if you would like the food you’re cooking to be crispy, or if you’re concentrating or reducing the items you are cooking, you would usually leave the pot uncovered. If what you’re cooking will not benefit from the loss of moisture or if you want things to cook a little faster, you should consider covering the pot.
  2. Drain your pasta about a minute before you think it is done and finish cooking it in the sauce. Your pasta will be more flavorful and the starch from the pasta will thicken the sauce just a little bit.
  3. Taste and season as you go. This will result in what chefs call a “layering of flavors.” It will usually make the difference between your dish being well-seasoned and just salty.
  4. Unless you’re boiling water or searing meat, you should not be using high heat. Temperature control is one of the best skills you can learn and the key is to use your ears. Usually a gentle sizzle is all you need to cook most foods. If something is popping and spattering, you can be pretty sure you need to turn down the heat.
  5. Have all of your ingredients ready before you begin. Place all necessary ingredients in the workspace and do as much prep as possible before you begin cooking. This is not only the most efficient and enjoyable way to cook, but it is also the best way to make sure you have everything you need before it’s too late!
  6. Season your meat, fish and poultry evenly. Sprinkle your seasonings from high above the item and allow it to fall down as if it were snow. This is the best method to evenly distribute the seasonings—plus, it’s fun!
  7. Anytime you are trying to get a nice sear on a steak or yummy caramelization on your vegetables, make sure it is dry before adding it to the skillet. Any water on the surface will steam and you will lose the yummy brown crust that you are trying to achieve.
  8. Don’t overcrowd the pan! Whether you are sautéing, boiling or frying, overcrowding the pan will always result in less-than-perfect results. Use the right size of pan or work in batches.
  9. Most savory dishes will benefit from a pinch of sugar, and most sweet dishes will benefit from a pinch of salt. This is advice that my grandma gave me and it really seems to work.
  10. If you need to add oil to something that you’re frying, pour the oil around the edges of the pan. By the time it reaches the food in the center of the pan, it will be perfectly heated.

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