Dry, rubbery scrambled eggs are a poor way to start the day. They’re also a common feature on many breakfast plates because many home chefs don’t realise that scrambled eggs continue cooking even after they’ve been removed from the heat. The trick to achieving the perfect heap of fluffy, delicious, scrambled goodness is to take them off the heat before the eggs look properly cooked.
Do you struggle with fillets that stick to the cooking surface and burn before they’re properly cooked? If so, the problem might be the temperature of your pan. When searing fish, many people mistakenly put wet fillets into a pan that’s too cold. According to the professionals, the fillets should be dried and the pan so hot that the oil is smoking.
Burned garlic tastes nasty. It loses all the sweetness and subtle flavor of an uncooked clove and can permeate a dish in a most unpleasant way. Avoid this by adding it towards the end of the sautéing process. This should ensure the garlic is only lightly browned, rather than blackened and bitter-tasting.
Even when cooked according to the instructions on the packet, over-boiled pasta is a common problem. In most cases it’s because the pasta is cooked until it’s done and only then is it added to the sauce – at which point, of course, it’s usually cooked for a little longer. Cooking the pasta until it’s “al dente”, or of medium firmness, swerves the problem.
Following the cooking instructions on a packet of rice rarely results in restaurant-worthy food. Instead, it’s more likely to lead to a clumpy mass that sticks to the pan. Washing the rice in cold water before cooking, until the water runs clear, removes some of the starch that makes the rice clump. Allowing it to soak for another 45 minutes before cooking will also help.
Can you judge how much asparagus stem to chop off? Too little and you’ll end up chewing on the tough, woody part that you ought to have discarded. Too much and you’ll waste this delicious vegetable. Instead, hold each spear at either end between your forefinger and thumb. Carefully bend the spear downwards and it should snap at exactly the right place.
A perfectly cooked rasher of bacon is a wonderful thing. However, many rashers are anything but perfectly cooked. Too burnt, too crispy, too watery, the potential disappointments are many – and especially if you’re cooking your bacon on the stovetop. On the other hand, the oven is a great alternative. Around 15 minutes at 400 deg F is usually all you need for the perfect rasher.
Home-made marinara and other tomato-based sauces can be disappointingly tart. Some people attempt to remedy the problem by adding sugar to their sauces. While this can work, it’s difficult to know how much to add and too easy to end up with an over-sweetened sauce. Choosing naturally sweet tomatoes, such as San Mazarno, as the basis for your sauce is an easy solution.
The nemesis of many childhood dinner times, over-boiled Brussel sprouts are enough to put many people off the vegetable for a lifetime. This is a shame. Not only are sprouts high in vitamin C, they are also off-the-scale-tasty when cooked well. Roasted with garlic and chilli is an alternative that is delicious enough to convert most naysayers.
Another food with the propensity to turn unpleasantly rubbery when overcooked, many people make the mistake of cooking mushrooms in plenty of oil or butter. Instead, they are far better if they’re cooked at a medium high heat in a dry pan and allowed to sweat out their moisture. This gives a much nicer texture and a wonderfully complex flavor.