25 Skills Every Cook Should Know

The art of cooking is a skill that is expected from all and sundry. Every top cook once had to learn the basics of cooking. A mastery of these basics will aid a Novice cook to become an Expert. More so, these skills seem simple and are most times overlooked by most people. Be that as it may, a mastery of these skills gives one an edge over his/her contemporaries.
This article outlines 25 Key Cooking Skills that every beginner cook should know in order to gain confidence in the kitchen and become an Expert cook.

How to Slice an Onion

Seriously? How to chop an onion? Sounds simple right? But it is far from simple. When I started learning how to cook, I usually spend up to 15 minutes just to slice an onion. Then, I sliced the onion into indefinite and irregular particles and by the time I am done, I will be shedding tears like a Baby. Learning how to slice an onion can effectively and efficiently speed up cooking. Sucking a teaspoon while slicing an onion will keep your eyes dry and prevent it from shedding tears.

How to Master Basic Knife Skills

When you master how to chop or slice an onion, it becomes pertinent for you to broaden your knife skills and to be acquainted with scoring, shearing, fine slicing and more so that you will be able to slice other slice able food products apart from onions like carrots, cabbage, lettuce among others. Slicing food products other than onions is entirely on a different level and a mastery of basic knife skills will avail one to do so.

How to Boil an Egg

Who doesn’t know how to boil an egg? I am sure everyone knows how to do so but I can bet that you have once lost an egg yolk while boiling it. Losing an egg yolk and destroying the egg can be a norm if one does not learn how to boil an egg. It is pertinent to note that the duration you boil an egg depends on how hard you want it to be but it’s advisable to boil eggs at room temperature in order to avoid undercooking. For soft -boiled eggs, bring a pan or pot of water to the stove or gas to boil, gently lower the egg into it with a spoon and cook for 3 – 5 minutes. For hard-boiled eggs, bring a pan or pot of water to the stove or gas to boil, gently lower the egg into it to cook for 7 – 10 minutes – the longer you cook, the stronger the egg will be. Plunge the egg into cold water as soon as it’s done to avoid over cooking. Time is a key factor in boiling eggs.

How to Poach an Egg

People usually have a Pan for Frying eggs, plantains, potatoes e.t.c and a special pan for poaching eggs in a perfect manner. I have good news for you. There’s no need having a special pan for perfectly poaching an egg. With your normal ‘Frying Pan’, boiling water, a splash of white vinegar wine, a slotted spoon and of course an Egg, you can have a PERFECTLY POACHED EGG. Intriguing right?

How to Make an Omelette

For a crunchy and tasty lunch or light dinner, an omelette is the answer. It is very simple to make an omelette. Beat your egg until the egg and the yolk thoroughly combines then pour the egg into a frying pan. Once the bottom of the egg is set but the top is a little wet, sprinkle all your fillings on the wet side by turning the wet side with a rubber spoon or spatula. To make it fluffy, drag the egg to the middle of the pan as it sets. Bon Apetit!

How to Separate an Egg

One may begin to wonder why a person has to separate the white part of an egg from the yolk. A lot of food recipe require only the white part of an egg while other the yolk. How can you possibly separate them? The easiest method to do so is to crack the egg with the blunt side of a knife then open the shell into halves then pass the yolk several times between the halves letting the white drop into a bowl underneath before popping the yolk into a separate vessel.

How to Make a Tomato Sauce

I am damn sure that you buy Tomato Paste to make your stew. Why buy tomato paste when it’s so easy to make? Fresh tomato is best to make tomato sauce which is a perfect replacement for tomato paste. Tomato Sauce can last for more than a week in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer and it can be added to soups and stews or used as a sauce for fish, meat or pasta. More so, tomato sauce is devoid of the many chemicals that are present in a tomato paste which often serve as preservatives. It is indeed natural.

How to Make Stock

A good stock can take your soup, stew and/or risotto to the next level.  Stock consists of leftover bones of meats after a roast, fishes and other condiments. Place the carcasses/ bones into a large pot and top it with cold water. Heat it to a gentle simmer and remove any protein scum that may rise up as a result of the heating. Then add the stock to your soup or stew. When it is properly mixed in a soup or stew, the difference will definitely be clear. As a matter of fact, the input of stock in a soup or stew distinguishes it from others.

How to Stuff and Roast a Chicken

Roasted chicken is a favorite delicacy for Sundays, but you can add more taste to it by stuffing it. When roasting a Chicken, use room temperature to avoid it from burning. To achieve a sumptuous and healthy roast, rub the chicken with thyme, lemon juice and rapeseed oil then serve with chopped vegetables. Ah! Sumptuous right? Bon Apetit!

How to Brown Meat

Browning meat is a simple method of briefly pan-frying meat until the outside is blackened or browned due to the heat from the pan-frying. Amongst other reasons for browning meat, it gives meat a richer flavor, keeps meat tender and fresh before further cooking and makes the meat to be succulent and juicy when it’s cooked in a stew takes pre-eminence.

How to Cook the Perfect Steak

Pan-frying of steak is the easiest way to ensure that it is cooked to perfection. The duration will solely depend on how well-done you like your meat, how large or thick the cut is and what type of steak it is. A good lug of olive oil and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper should be rubbed all over the steak before placing it on a frying pan. It should be cooked for a minimum of 6 minutes and should be turned with a spoon every minute.

How to Cook Rice

Rice is an everyday stable that ought to be properly prepared. You don’t need to buy a rice cooker to properly cook rice. With your normal pot, rice can be parboiled or cooked with clear cognizance of duration or time to avoid it from being sticky. When rice is boiled or cooked with the necessary ingredients – salt for white rice and properly checked on, it won’t be sticky and can be enjoyed with stew or sauce. Crunchy! Crunchy!

How to Cook Pasta

Are you tired of stodgy and sticky pasta as breakfast, lunch or dinner? Do you wonder if it is possible for you to prepare a pack of Spaghetti without it being sticky or unnecessarily hard? Wonder no more. The answer is here. In Italy, pasta is usually served ‘al-dente’, which means ‘to the teeth’ – boiled until softened, but still firm whilst chewing. To achieve an ‘al-dente’ kind of pasta, fill a pot with enough water that will cover the pasta then add salt to it. Carefully drop the pasta into the boiling salty water and cook for 10 – 12 minutes. Make sure you stir the pasta 2 minutes after you dropped the pasta into the pot to prevent sticking. It is important to note that different pasta have different cooking time or duration and fresh egg pasta will cook faster than dried egg pasta.

How to Melt Chocolate

With a ‘bain marie’, you can melt your chocolate. Using a ‘bain-marie’ is really simple and will ensure you don’t destroy your best sweet treat by burning or splitting it. It is most times quite herculean to melt a chocolate without burning it. The secret to not burning the chocolate is to remove it from the heat before it is completely melted and keep stirring until it is. Provided you want to use a stove to melt a chocolate, keep the chocolate away from the direct heat and use a very low room temperature in melting in order to avoid damaging it.

How to Bake a Potato

Potato usually needs very few steps to turn it into a sumptuous meal but a few tricks can change it from just a normal potato to a crunchy one. Try rubbing the outside with a little oil and salt for spuds that have crisp skin and white flesh. The baking of a potato is ideal to be done with an oven. The oven should be preheated a t a temperature of 425° before putting the potato inside. The baking should last for at least 45 to 60 minutes. The normal potato when baked can twinkle your fancy.

How to Crush Garlic

Amongst other essentials for many recipes, Garlic is one of them. Most people buy a garlic crusher for crushing garlic and have to face squarely the difficulty of cleaning it after use. Garlic can be crushed with a Knife. Crushing garlic with a Knife is very much convenient than a garlic crusher and gives you a smooth paste that will disappear smoothly into your dish with no lumps to therein to denote its presence.

How to Prepare Chilies

Pungent, spicy fresh or dried fruit of any of the several varieties of capsicum peppers can add a phenomenal and crunchy taste to your cooking. Chilies are used especially to add heat. It is ideal for your chili to be fresh and the skin smooth because once they are wrinkled; their fresh flavor will be gone. On no account should it be refrigerated. It is pertinent for you to wash your hands after preparing a chili.

How to Make a Salad Dressing

A simple French dressing with salad that is made from the basic ratio three parts of oil and one part of vinegar is known as “Vinaigrette”. It can be made with oil and vinegar (3:1 ratio) or adapted with fresh herbs, mustard or crushed garlic and lemon juice. Citrus Dressing is another form of salad dressing. As the name implies it is done with Citrus and other condiments needed for Vinaigrette except Vinegar.

How to Knead Dough

Bread is an everyday food for most people; but if you have never eaten a fresh loaf of bread when it’s hot from the oven, you are missing a lot. Mixing flour with other ingredients such as water, eggs and/or butter that is made into a particular form and then baked requires gentle pummeling. How can we do this? Prepare a flat, clean surface by sprinkling a little flour then use your fist to gently pummel the risen dough that is in a bowl (as seen in the picture above) until it forms a smaller ball then bring out the dough to your kneading surface (The flat clean surface that you earlier sprinkled with a little flour). Use the heel of your hand to push the dough up and down, back and forward thereby stretching and squashing it. Give the dough a quarter turn and fold it in half then repeat the kneading process in a rhythmic manner for as long as the recipe states.

How to Make a Batter

The method varies depending on what you are making but you always need to batter properly to combine the milk, flour or water so that there are no lumps. Pancakes, puddings and battered fish are the end product of a batter.

How to Make Gravy

Real gravy made in the roasting pan tastes so much better than powdered gravy. Gravy is a thick sauce that is made from the fat or juice that comes from out from meat or vegetables as they are being cooked. There is no big deal in making gravy; one just needs to properly cook a meat or vegetable so that the juice will come out. It is most times medicinal especially the juice from vegetables.

How to Rub Flour and Butter

This is the most time-consuming task in baking a short crust pastry, scones or crumble but some deem it the most satisfying part in baking. A technique called ‘Rubbing In’ is the most efficient and appropriate method to rub flour and butter on whatsoever you are baking. Rubbing in here means taking flour and fat and rubbing it in between your fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs.

How to Line a Cake Tin

Ever heard of a Cake Tin? It is a ‘Fake Cake’ per se. It looks like a cake but it is not. Lining a cake tin is the most integral aspect of making a cake tin. Softened butter and baking parchment is all you need to stop your cake from sticking and with a little know-how, you can successfully line any shape of tin. A fruity Christmas cake is also possible via this skill.

How to Prepare an Avocado

Avocado is a delicious addition to guacamole or salads. Avocados have a big stone in the middle that needs to be removed. It also has a soft flesh which is quite difficult to be in one piece as you open it up. It is best to serve it fresh to prevent it from going brown before serving.

 How to Stay Safe in the Kitchen

The Kitchen is one of the most sensitive parts of a House and it is incumbent on the Kitchen Users to take good care of the kitchen and her products in order to avoid them from spoiling. Hygiene and proper handling of ingredients is pertinent to for instance, prevent a Meat from spoiling. Always wash your hands properly before and after cooking or eating and after touching raw meat. Use a separate cutting board for raw meats another for vegetables and make sure to wash and clean all kitchen utensils thoroughly after use. When storing a food product in the fridge like meat, always use a sealed, clean container and place it on the bottom shelf of the fridge to avoid it from dripping on other items in the fridge. Sensitive kitchen and food products like Knives, Chilies, e.t.c should be kept out of the reach of children. One may ask, ‘Who are the Kitchen Users that should properly take care of the Kitchen?’ Kitchen users range from those that cook in the kitchen to those that eat the food that was prepared in the kitchen. In fact, everybody in the home is a Kitchen User and should therefore take good care of the kitchen in order to avoid Food Poisoning.