Whether you regard cooking as a relaxing hobby after a hectic day’s work or a way of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, cooking at home is enjoyed by many people.
If you don’t cook regularly, you may be looking to take your first steps into the world of cooking. And if you do cook at home, you might have picked up a few tips and tricks from books, friends and family, but missed out on some fundamental cookery learnings.
Struggling to recreate that feather-light Victoria sponge Grandma used to make? Can’t quite crack the perfect scrambled eggs brunch? It’s important to learn some key techniques to ensure you can take your food to the next level. Whilst you may understand certain recipes, cooking is both a science and an art, so fundamental techniques are often required if you want to perfect your dishes.
To help you elevate your skills, we’ve pulled together a list of must-know techniques, all of which are simple and easy to introduce next time you head to the kitchen. Once you’ve mastered these skills, it might also be time to upgrade your oven. The Vision oven is the perfect appliance for those wanting to take things to the next level in the kitchen with innovative features including a 19” touchscreen interface and WiFi connectivity, giving quick access to recipes and cooking guidance. Take a closer look at the Vision oven here.
Chopping an onion
Onions are a staple of countless recipes, from Asian cuisine to classic British and French dishes, through to rich Mediterranean delights. You’ve probably been chopping onions for years, but unless you’ve been to cooking school, you probably haven’t learnt the standard technique. The secret is largely down to a couple of precise cuts. Take a look at Gordon Ramsay’s video below for to get yourself up to speed.
Eggs 5 ways
Eggs make for the perfect weekend breakfast, whichever way you cook them. Fried eggs are self-explanatory, but the boiled, poached and scrambled varieties require a touch of consideration. Starting with boiled eggs, if you want them runny for toast-dipping, 4 minutes is the ideal time. For soft, slightly firm yolk, 6 minutes is perfect. For a fully hard-boiled egg, 10 minutes is perfect.
For poached eggs, make sure your eggs are fresh. Crack the egg into a saucer to make it easier to place into the water. Bring a pan of water to the boil and add a drop of vinegar. Stir the water to create a gentle whirlpool, then tip the egg into the centre and cook for 3-4 minutes before lifting it out with a slotted spoon.
When it comes to scrambled eggs, patience is key. Add a knob of butter to a non-stick pan and pour in the whisked eggs. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, allow the eggs to set slightly then fold. Repeat this process until they reach your desired texture. It’s always best to take them off the heat just before you feel they’re ready, as they will continue to cook.
Using a bain-marie for gentle heat
A bain-marie is a water bath for applying gentle heat to a variety of dishes and is the most effective way of melting ingredients like chocolate, which may burn or split. Creating a bain-marie for melting chocolate is very simple. All you need to do is bring a shallow pan of water to the boil and place a suitable container, such as a Pyrex bowl, over the top. This allows heat to transfer gently to the bottom of the bowl and to the contents. Custards and some sauces such as Hollandaise are often cooked in a bain-marie.
Searing meat and fish
Pan-searing is a technique in which meat or fish is cooked at a high temperature until a caramelised crust is formed – typically the meat’s surface must exceed 150°C. The meat or fish is often then transferred to an oven to complete the cooking at a lower temperature. Searing is an essential technique as it creates desirable flavour, improves appearance and provides a contrast in texture.
Folding batter for light soufflés and cakes
Folding is a crucial technique in baking. It’s the process of combining ingredients (often whipped) together gently. Folding is important as it helps keep the ingredient aerated – crucial for light cake and soufflé mixtures. When folding, the light mixture should be added to the heavy mixture, then cut through the middle and worked in a gentle figure-of-eight motion.
De-glazing to make a richly flavoured sauce
If you’ve been cooking meat in a pan, a great way to make a rich, flavourful sauce or gravy is to deglaze the pan you’ve been cooking with. All this means is adding liquid to loosen the residue, which then provides plenty of flavour to your sauce. You can use water, stock or a combination of wine and stock depending on the type of sauce you want to make. If you decide to add wine, make sure you allow it to cook for at least five minutes to remove the strong taste of the alcohol.
Baking bread is a key skill in the culinary world and can be a lot of fun, but some technical skills are required to do it well. One of the most important is learning how to knead dough. When flour is mixed with water, gluten is created. Kneading develops the gluten to make the dough stretchy and elastic. The key to this process is stretching the dough away from you with the heel or knuckles of one hand and then folding it back over the top towards your body. Watch the video below to get a good idea.