Fruit for children

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Mistakes you want to avoid in the kitchen

“Too many cooks spoil the broth” goes the proverb, but so do some mistakes and bad habits
when you’re frying, roasting and baking. Here are some common errors to watch out for.

 

Smoke signals are a no go

Recipes for frying often begin by telling you to heat some oil in the pan. Thinking the oil will take a while to heat up, we turn our backs on the pan and start chopping the vegetables. When we turn around again, we’re greeted by clouds of oily smoke from the hob. “Fine!” we think “the pan is nice and hot, so in go the ingredients.” You couldn’t be more wrong! Once oil has been heated to the point where it smokes, or if you heat it up repeatedly, not only will food cooked in it taste unpleasant, it may be really bad for your health. If oils get too hot, the useful antioxidants they contain tend to form some unpleasant compounds. The message is – don’t wait for smoke signals before you start cooking, As soon as the oil begins to shimmer, it’s hot enough to start putting ingredients in the pan.

Stirring things too much

Many people think that keeping things moving in the pan is vital to stop them burning.
That’s only partly right. Of course, you don’t want a blackened crust, but if you stir too
enthusiastically, the pan contents won’t develop that appetising brown look and the
flavour nuances that go with it. And sometimes over-stirring damages delicate foods,
so that attractive separate items turn into a gooey porridge. So, unless the recipe tells
you to keep stirring, it’s better to watch the temperature carefully and stir as little as
possible.

Filled too full

Another common error, especially if you’re in a hurry, is to pile everything into the pan at once. Careful! If your aim is crisp and crunchy, lightly browned food, then you need to give it lots of space. That’s because in an overfilled pan the temperature drops and moisture can’t escape.
So your food will be steamed or simmered rather than crisply fried. If you’re frying meat, for example, the result might be soggy, greyish steaks or cutlets with parts well-cooked and some
bits still half-raw. It’s much better to cook small batches one at a time!

 

Let it rest

You’re famished and the steak you’re grilling or the roast in your oven is just about done.
But hard as it may be, do let the meat rest for a few minutes before you tuck in.
Resting a steak or a roast allows the juices to be reabsorbed by the meat – it will be juicier
and taste better. If you carve it too soon the juices will just form a puddle on your plate.

 

 

 

Wash it before you cook it

This is good advice, for example, for vegetables, but it doesn’t necessarily apply to meat. You might get rid of the slippery feel, but bear in mind that all the bacteria are being washed into your sink. If raw food, or your hands, come into contact with these bacteria, the result could be food poisoning. So why not simply dry the meat with kitchen paper which you can then dump into the rubbish bin!

Non-stick pans don’t like the heat

If your cooking plate is turned on full, it’s not a good idea to put your Teflon pan on it. If it gets overheated the anti-stick coating can release poisonous vapours. It’s been suggested that they could cause liver damage and developmental problems. On the other hand non-stick pans are a real boon. The best idea is to check which coatings are safe at which temperatures and stick carefully to this advice.

 

 

Non-stick pans hate sharp metal

And while we’re on the subject of non-stick pans – take care not to damage the anti-stick coating by using sharp metal forks or knives. It’s better to use specially designed implements made of wood or silicone rubber.

 

Choux pastry – top tips!

With any type of dough, it’s important to get all the ingredients thoroughly mixed, especially if you’re using quite a lot of flour. On the other hand, if you stir a choux pastry mixture too long it gets tough and your end product will be either too dry or horribly sticky. So add the flour carefully and stir just enough to mix it well.

 

 

Author: Hendrik Jürgens