Cooking is fun! It allows us to connect with the food on our plates, to control the ingredients that go into it, and to prepare it just the way we want it. So why do so many people claim they can’t cook, or declare themselves hopeless in the kitchen before they even try? We think it’s because people are intimidated by lack of knowledge. Cooking is not brain surgery, however, and despite how some cooking shows (while quite fun to watch), can make the process seem elaborate and exhausting, there is no need to be intimidated. With a few tips, tricks, and tools, you will have what you need to cook with confidence, and most importantly, have fun!
- Let the pan heat up– Before adding your food, sure the pan has had time to heat up to the proper temperature. This is especially important for cooking eggs and meat. In order to get that nice sear on your meat, and to keep eggs and meat from sticking to your pan, give the pan a few minutes to heat up. Test the pan with a drop of water if you haven’t added any oil yet– the droplet should hop around the pan or sizzle and evaporate if it’s ready.
- Not too hot!– A common mistake people make at the stovetop is thinking they have to cook things at really high heat. There are times when you want high heat, like stir frying with a wok, or getting a good quick browning of a heavy piece of meat that will be finished in the oven. But for most purposes, this extra heat will produce nothing but spattered oil, smoke, burned food, and a real mess to scour off the bottom of the pan. Medium heat is your friend! As long as you’ve let your pan heat up, medium and medium-high will give you that nice fond on your pan and will maintain the heat of the pan while reducing stick. And everyone will breathe easier as well.
- Let it cook– This one is a source of endless frustration and the reason many people have thrown up their hands and said “I can’t cook!” Yes, you can, but you need to let meat have the proper time to brown. If you attempt to flip it too early, it will stick to the pan, and won’t develop that nice brown crust. As long as you have not cranked up the heat too high, the meat will release from the pan when it’s ready to flip. Just give it a little wiggle with your tongs, and if it’s ready it will move without resistance. Patience is a virtue at the stovetop.
- Use the right size burner– Stovetops have different sized burners for a reason, and that’s to control the amount of heat transferring to your pot or pan. Boiling a big pot of water is obviously best on the largest burner. Likewise, achieving a low, long simmer is easiest with a smaller burner. So if you’re short of time, should you speed things up by putting that smaller pan on the large burner? No! With sauces, this will just create a layer of burned sauce on the bottom. With gas stovetops, flames from the largest burner will often escape smaller pan surfaces, scorching up the sides. This can lead to hueing and discoloration of your cookware.
- Let it cool– While this is not something you need to worry about with top quality pressure cast aluminum core ccokware, like our Swiss Diamond nonstick pans, it certainly is the bane of every household with stainless steel cookware, especially where the dish washer is not the cook and is in a hurry! (Read as: “teenagers”). Hot cast aluminum pans can be plunged under a cold stream of water with no worry of warping, but stainless pots and pans, if subjected to this treatment a couple of times, will warp. If you have a flat-top stove, that means the pan will now spin instead of staying put. Treat your pans with care, and give them enough time to cool, and you won’t have any worries.
Thanks for stopping by Habitat’s Blog, where we share cooking tips, recipes, product information, news of upcoming events, and a sprinkling of random commentary, so stay tuned. In the meantime, please take a look around our online store, where we are constantly adding more of the wonderful kitchen and gift items we offer in our brick-and-mortar store. Get cooking! And if you do find yourself with one of those blackened pans to clean, don’t forget to reach for our Euro Scrubby first!