We get it. Not everyone is a professional chef. Some of us can barely boil water to make pasta. But as we settle into cooler weather, now is the time to commit yourself to learning the ropes and getting a few go-to meals under your belt. Thankfully, there are gadgets and websites to make learning your way around the kitchen a little bit easier. Here are a few of our favorite tried and true tricks.
Invest in Knives
Good knives are a must-have in any kitchen, as they’ll take you from prep to serving. While a good set is recommended, you can get by with just the basics. Experts recommend having at least a chef’s knife, serrated knife, boning knife and honing steel. It’s also important to keep your knives sharp for both safety and efficiency. If the idea of using sharp knives to dice and chop scares you, you can always invest in cut-resistant gloves.
Measure Twice, Cook Once
When you’re just starting out in the kitchen, following a recipe is your road map to success. But sometimes, things can get confusing. This handy conversion website reminds you how many tablespoons are in a cup and even gives you ratios for specific foods. Or, if you find a recipe you like but want to make more or fewer servings, you can use this online calculator to help you resize your recipe.
Timing is Everything
The key to cooking any meal is having a handle on how long each part of the dish takes. Chicken Parm is going to be much less appetizing if the sauce, noodles and chicken don’t hit the plate at the same time. But it can get distracting when you have multiple pots and pans going at the same time.
Pro tip: Throw your plates in the oven. That way, they’ll be warm and keep your side dishes piping hot even if your main course still needs a few minutes to finish cooking. If you’re just cooking for one or two, we also love the idea of a divided pan. This skillet allows you to cook up to three items at once so you can keep an eye on everything in the same place.
Slow it Down
Slow cookers are a godsend for kitchen novices. They allow you to prep ahead of time, dump ingredients into a pot and go about your life. When you get home at the end of the day, voila! You have a delicious meal. And now that we’re heading into cooler weather, slow cookers are definitely a seasonally appropriate alternative to slaving over the stove all day. Pinterest is chock full of family-friendly dinner ideas that can be prepped and frozen ahead of time. Before you go down that rabbit hole, here is a guide to buying the perfect slow cooker and here are 50 recipes for beginners.
If you need a hands-on lesson to get your foray into cooking started, join Chef Bill Collier at 10 a.m. Saturday, September 24 for Cooking 101. The class is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity and includes lunch. Book your front-row seat by calling 717-724-0222
or book your spot online!