ADVERTISEMENT

You just can't get enough cooking tips.

Here are 10 fresh ideas from "101 Things I Learned in Culinary School," by Louis Eguaras and Matthew Frederick:

1. Read it before making it: Dying to try that yummy recipe that makes your tongue tingle? Hold on, hot shot. The first thing you need to do is read the recipe. Common sense? Sure. But then Voltaire didn't say, "Common sense is not so common" for nothing.

Before you turn on your oven, or fire up that stand mixer, take two minutes to make sure you have all the ingredients. Two minutes now that could save you a ton of aggravation later.

2. Don't use too much flour: Never dip a measuring cup into the flour. The flour will compact, resulting in up to 20 percent more flour than you want. To measure flour accurately, use a measuring cup that is exactly one cup to the brim. Fill it to overflowing with a scoop or spoon, then level with a knife.

3. When sauteing, make the food jump! "Sauteing is a simple, elegant cooking art using a very hot pan. In French, saute means jump; the pan should be hot enough to cause food placed in it to jump or pop."

For the best results, do not use a nonstick pan. Start by heating the pan without oil until drops of water tossed into it sizzle. Then, place a small amount of oil or butter into the pan and continue heating.

4. Add butter to improve sauces: To give your sauces a perfect velvety texture and rich sheen, add a few ounces of cold, unsalted butter at the end of the cooking. "The proteins in the butter act like an emulsifier, giving the whole flavor a greater sum than the parts. In larger quantities, the butter acts as a thickener."

5. Stop cooking meat sooner than you think: Many cooks inadvertently overcook meats when they are using a meat thermometer to judge internal temperature.

Food not only continues to cook after being removed from heat, its internal temperature will continue to rise for several minutes as heat from the food's warmer outside continues moving toward the cooler inside.

6. Be mindful when you salt: "Salt during cooking, not just at the end. Salt helps heighten and blend other flavors. Adding salt early in the cooking process gives you a better opportunity to evaluate and adjust the dish." But don't salt stocks or sauces that need to be reduced while preparing them, as subsequent reduction can make them too salty.

7. The freshest shrimp might be frozen shrimp: "Nearly all shrimp are flash-frozen at sea because of their short shelf-life. When nonfrozen shrimp are offered for sale, they probably aren't fresh but were frozen at one time and later thawed. Buying frozen is safer, cheaper and more convenient."

8. Smell and examine your fish: Fresh fish looks and smells clean and has a sweet, water-like scent, with no slime, cuts or bruises. The fins should be pliable. Fish scales should not be loose. Run your fingers across the scales; if they separate easily, it is not fresh. The eyes should be clear and clean, and not sunken below the head. The gills should be bright pink or maroon, not deep red.

9. You must add water to your oven sometimes: When baking cheesecakes, custards, puddings and other fragile egg dishes, place the pan in a water bath to promote even cooking, and prevent curdling.

10. Keep dental floss in the kitchen: No, seriously. It's marvelous -- and much better than a knife -- for cutting layer cakes, roll cookies, soft cheeses, dough and cheesecake. Try it.