How to Avoid 6 Common Kitchen Mistakes
Fallen soufflé got you down? Shrimp sizzled too long and now they’re shriveled? While we might not be able to solve those problems specifically, we do have the key to understanding a few common kitchen problems. We’ve found information on 6 of the most common mistakes you might, and a few tips on how to avoid them in the future. Oh, and if you’re still worrying about that soufflé, Taste of Home says even when deflated, it will still be delicious. As for shrimp, when all else fails, stop sautéing, and start roasting.
1. Your read the recipe, without really reading the recipe
Yeah, you glanced at it, gave it a quick once over, and now you’re wondering why your cupcakes didn’t properly rise. Turns out that cursory read you gave recipe left you thinking it called for baking powder, not baking soda. “Baking soda has four times the leavening power of baking powder,” Marlene Koch, author of Eat More of What You Love, told Good Housekeeping. “If you use baking soda instead of baking powder, your baked goods will rise too much, and then deflate. They may also have a strong salty, and perhaps soapy taste.”
The best way to combat this is to read the whole recipe–from ingredients to instructions–thoroughly a few times before you start pulling items to use in the kitchen.
2. Your pot or pan is too small
When it comes to choosing your cookware or bakeware, you might end up feeling a bit like Goldilocks. You don’t want a pan or pot too small for your stovetop cooking, or a baking dish too small, you want both to be just right. When a sauté pan is too small and becomes overcrowded, Richard Simpson told Real Simple heat is trapped creating steam. Meat won’t brown when this occurs, and your food won’t be as flavorful. When it comes to pots, Simpson said its best for “the food to swim,” and this can help prevent gummy, starchy pasta. Use at least a 5 quart pot for a pound of pasta.
3. Your baking dish is too large
Baking pan substitutions are common, since not everyone has a bundt pan at their disposal. However, you want to make sure that whatever pan you are using isn’t too large for the dish. As Pillsbury explains, using a cake pan that is too large for the recipe can yield a flat, dry cake. When it comes to roasting pans for meats, Ladies Home Journal warns that when a roasting pan is oversized, the pan juices will burn. Joy of Baking has this pan guide by size and volume, a useful simple tool worth consulting.
4. Not tasting as you go, and under-seasoning food
Obviously, you shouldn’t be tasting food with raw ingredients that could make you sick, but if you’re only seasoning your sauces at the end and tasting when you sit down to the table, you could wind up with an unpleasant taste for your dish. Michelle N. Warner, education director at Brooklyn Kitchen, and Carrie Bradley, of the Chopping Block in Chicago, recommended to O, the Oprah Magazine that the at-home chef season throughout the cooking process, adding a pinch of salt when new ingredients are introduced instead of only at the end.
5. You didn’t let your dish rest
You took the steak off the grill, brought it inside and started carving away. Now you’re juices are sprinting out of your perfectly grilled beef. Food Network states that while your meats and layered casseroles are tempting beyond all belief when you pull them right out of the oven, giving it a little time to rest will help in the long run. For meats, the juices–and flavor–will stay inside, and with layered casseroles like lasagna, the dish will hold together nicely and not become a goopy mess. By the way, the same is true for brownies. If you want perfectly cut squares, waiting until they are cooled is essential.
6. You’ve stored your food improperly
Illness causing bacteria can be growing in your fridge if you haven’t stored your leftovers correctly, or if you’re holding on to them too long. FoodSafety.gov has this handy chart explaining times and temperatures for storing a variety of foods, from opened packages of hot dogs to soups and stews. Eggs, have a guide tailored to different products, and methods of preparing. Consult both before you take a taste test, because as CBS explains, even just a bite of food that has spoiled can cause food poisoning.