It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the kitchen - there are so many people giving you so much advice, so many recipes with such confusing directions. But almost every great chef, whether professional or home cook, is working from just a few very simple foundational rules. Keep these simple habits in mind in your own kitchen, and you’ll quickly become a more confident, faster, and happier cook.
Read the whole recipe
The most stressful experiences in the kitchen come from being ill-prepared. You’re halfway through a recipe, and you realize you were supposed to have chopped an onion before you started - now you have to stop everything you’re doing for onion prep, or worse, burn the whole dish. So many woes can be avoided by simply taking a few minutes to read the whole recipe, especially when you’re trying out a new ingredient or technique.
Prep your ingredients
You know how on cooking shows, they always have everything pre-measured in tiny bowls? That’s called 'mise en place’, which is French for ‘everything in place’. By putting everything you’ll need for a recipe out beforehand, you’re setting yourself up for success and ensuring that you won’t get caught unprepared halfway through.
Keep a clean work station
This is one of the first things new cooks learn in culinary school (or by being yelled at in a professional kitchen.) When you’re working the line in a kitchen, keeping a clean workspace helps maintain the flow of your work - that means regularly wiping down your cutting board, putting containers back in the place they belong, and generally maintaining order so you know where everything is. The same principle applies in home cooking. If you have to look for your spatula every time you put it down, the flow of your cooking will be disrupted. Instead, create a spot where your spatula lives, and put it there every time you use it.
Taste as you cook
Each component of a dish should taste great on it’s own. That way, when you put everything together, each part is nicely seasoned and one part won’t overwhelm the flavors of the others. Tasting early and often helps you accomplish that, and will improve all your meals.
Take care of your equipment
If you’ve chosen to invest in high-quality cookware, you know that it significantly improves the time you spend in your kitchen. Treating those items well will help them last a long time, and give you a better return on your investment. Follow our instructions on how to clean your carbon steel pans, and be sure to dry thoroughly to avoid rust. Extend the life of your nonstick pan by treating it gently, never putting it in the dishwasher and avoiding metal utensils. With a little TLC, your pans bring you a lifetime of joy and delicious meals.
At Made In, we believe that time spent in the kitchen should be calming, an opportunity to forget the stressors of the day and focus on what really matters: feeding yourself, your family and your friends. With these tips, you can spend less time cooking and cleaning and more time with the people who matter most, even if that just means yourself - or your couch.