Mistake #5 – Blind Recipe Devotion
Earlier this week I compared a recipe to a road map, a guide to help you navigate the process of getting food to the table. Recipes are a good thing, but too much of a good thing can work against you in the kitchen. I once taught a class where students prepared salmon. I mentioned more than once during my demonstration that the cooking times in the recipes should be used as a guide, that it was never a good idea to pop something into the oven, walk away and come back only at the beck and call of your kitchen timer. When the cooking began I watched several students do just that and return 15 minutes later (because that’s what the recipe said) to overcooked fish.
Tool #5 –Use Your Noodle.
Cooking is not always an exact science and unless you’re baking, which is an exact science, you have to find a balance between your recipe and reality. Oven strengths vary, your electric cook top may not heat your sauté pan as quickly or evenly as the gas range used by the recipe writer. Check your food periodically and if your chicken breast is starting to burn after 4 minutes in the pan, lower the heat and flip it (only once – see Mistake #2), even if the recipe says cook for 5 minutes per side.
Cooking is an art; the perfect storm of practice, common sense and skill, in that order. So relax. Cook more often and have fun.