What I know about cooking is the result of countless hours toiling in my home kitchen, pouring over cookbooks, and peering over the shoulders of every good cook I know. I don’t have a degree from the Cordon Bleu in Paris, haven’t spent much time cooking in restaurants, never worked as a caterer, and was never employed as anyone’s personal chef (beyond my own children). What this means is that while I know my way around a stove, there are gaps in my education. So when I find a line up of juicy little cooking tidbits, I grab hold. Such is the case with this terrific write-up of the 53 most common cooking mistakes with simple solutions from Cooking Light. I’ll share three that stood out as ones I’ve committed on more than one occasion. You can find the remaining 50 pointers by going here.
1. Don’t Overheat Low-Fat Milk Products
I am forever subbing in lower fat milk for half and half and heavy cream. But you can’t boil low fat milk as you do fuller fat milk and cream; it will curdle. Best is to use a thermometer and keep the temperature below 180 degrees. Alternatively, you can stabilize milk by whisking in a little cornstarch or flour before bringing it to a boil. This will not only prevent curdling, but will thicken the milk to a texture more in keeping with cream.
2. Don’t Soften Butter Too Much in your Baking
We’ve probably all done this from time to time, but popping butter in the microwave to hasten softening often leads to a semi-melted texture. This can result in cookies that spread too much and lose their shape, and cake batter than won’t cream properly and an inferior texture. It’s ideal to pull butter out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before baking. For the impatient among you, cutting the butter into slices will speed up the softening process.
3. Don’t Let your Blueberries Sink to the Bottom
It’s only recently that I learned this brilliant little trick to prevent berries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins as they bake. Simply take a spoonful of the flour called for in the recipe and toss it in a separate bowl with them berries until they are lightly coated. Add the berries, along with any remaining flour that didn’t adhere, into the batter and stir gently. That one step will keep the berries suspended, which means a taste of sweet fruit with every bite.
Got any cooking mistakes and their solutions? Please share!
All images by Cooking Light