I'm a cooking journalist and here are the 7 beginner mistakes that I will never make again

To say that I am – sometimes – hard-headed would be slightly under the truth… I learn from my mistakes, like everyone else, but in the field of cooking, I really have to implement my mistake to understand that it is one of them, an error!

Mistake #1: Not following a recipe

I put this one in first position because it’s a classic in my kitchen. Most of the time, I follow the recipes religiously but often, especially in baking, I make my cakes from memory and out of habit/eagerness, I never look at the recipe. For example, pound cake, I know it’s a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, and milk. Yes Perfect. Except that I frequently forget the yeast… My cakes are not any less good, they are just a little more “bricky”.

Morality : There is no point in running, you have to start on time.

Mistake #2: changing ingredients

Another big habit that often plays tricks on me: swapping ingredients. Let’s be clear, transposing this or that spice into a recipe is classic, and this allows us to adapt our recipe to what we have in our cupboards. Except that sometimes my originality pushes me too far and I make changes that aren’t in the best taste (literally). Like this time when in the absence of butter and neutral oil, I used hemp oil in my biscuits… Or in my pistachio cream for which I swapped grapeseed oil, neutral in taste, with olive oil, much too strong for this preparation…

Morality : You shouldn’t have your eyes bigger than your stomach.

Mistake #3: not greasing your mold before pouring your batter

A great classic in baking: remember that all the molds are non-stick and that the cake will come out without any problem. It’s wrong ! If some metal molds do not pose a problem, this is not at all a universal truth… If you use flexible molds such as Flexipan, the outcome should be a happy ending but when it comes to rigid molds, you never forget about butter or other fat before pouring the dough and baking.

Morality : Fat, that’s life.

Mistake #4: not watching your pan

Walking away from the stove while the water boils – then overflows -, the sugar takes an infinite time to caramelize – before burning -, the chocolate melts – then burns as it combines grainy – all of this is easily avoidable. Just wait!

Morality : Patience is the mother of all virtues.

Mistake #5: using low-fat butter instead of regular butter

This error remains my greatest failure because it was written in advance. The context: the creation of a pastry dessert composed of dacquoise and butter cream, the famous “Russian” cake from Oloron-Sainte-Marie in Béarn. A melting and delicious delight, with a good praline taste. Except… I said to myself “let’s lighten the story a little and use low-fat butter”. Yes I know. I see you smiling. So yes, I managed to make my praline buttercream. And no, once beaten, it never solidified again, and I found myself with a puddle of cream at the bottom of my plate on which my dacquoise floated, lost.

Morality : Anyone who wants to fly too close to the sun burns their wings.

Mistake #6: not letting your meat rest after cooking

This is really advice from experience, not really obvious when you start cooking. You absolutely must let your meat rest after cooking, this advice is almost as important as the care taken during cooking. Ideally, the resting time should equal the cooking time (40 minutes cooking = 40 minutes resting). This way the juice is distributed nicely in the flesh and the result is as soft as possible. In practice, 10 minutes of covered rest after cooking (for chicken breasts for example), is already an excellent reflex! Forget overly dry meats and steaks, and welcome tender and soft products.

Morality : Patience and length of time are more than strength or rage.

Mistake #7: Cooking too much meat at once

If you are an avid reader (and I know you are), you already know the famous Maillard reaction which allows foods to brown nicely and harmoniously? In the case of meat, for example chicken breast cut into pieces, you should not cook everything at once in your pan or wok. Indeed, if each piece does not touch the bottom of the hot utensil, and in fact the source of heat, the Maillard reaction will not occur, there will be no coloring, and gluttony will be forgotten. (Larusso, forever). It is better to make several batches, always over high heat, to sear and color each piece, set aside and then brown everything for 1 to 2 minutes if necessary. And then what do we do? We reserve, we cover and we wait of course (see: error n°6), for perfectly juicy meat.

Morality : The best things need patience.

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