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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Mistakes I'll hopefully never make again

It consistently amazes/disturbs me that an entire dish can be all ruined by one small mistake. A dash too much pepper or an extra large drizzle of oil can throw the whole thing off entirely of what would otherwise be a delightful meal.

Trial and error is a particularly useful method for cooks like myself. While bakers are bound by precision and accuracy, a cooks world is a veritable free-for-all, with endless possibilities of ingredients to combine. But the reality is that about 45% of the dishes that I make come out exactly like I wanted them to. While there is something to be said for recipes that surprise you, I'd like to try and bump that number up to 65% or so.

Whenever I encounter a problem in life, I like to invent a little “chart-based” solution of some kind…things that are often suggested in self-help and pop psychology audio books. Sometimes when I’m bored, I just browse the Franklin-Covey website, looking at all their different templates for enabling greatness through improved organization. This “living” post is one such attempt.

In an effort to advance my cooking skills beyond mediocre" to "pretty good", I will document common goofs, snafus and [my personal favorite] mushkilas (problems in arabic...quite possibly the worlds cutest word] in this post, not only for my personal reference, but for the collective good of the internet food writing community and all other interested parties…

Good luck! These are in no particular order, just as they arise:

  • If you want crispy asparagus, never blanche them. Sauté them. Any other method renders them to mush.
  • There is such a thing as too much olive oil, salt, onions and garlic. They set the stage, but are rarely star the show.
  • If you want to BAKE, you HAVE to MEASURE! Get that through your thick skull!

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