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11 Tips All Home Cooks Should Know Slideshow

11 Tips All Home Cooks Should Know Slideshow


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May 7, 2012

1. Setting Down the Pans

Turn pan handles to the side so you don’t accidentally knock into them when walking past the stove.


11 Baking Ratios Every Pro Should Memorize

You’ve heard it said before that baking is a science — and it’s true. Ratios are the backbone of our favorite recipes for cookies, cakes and more. And understand the base structures of these items is what separates the pro bakers from the fakers.

Related To:

Photo By: Kate Mathis ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Photo By: Kate Mathis ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Scott Gries ©© 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

Why Ratios Matter

Any novice baker can follow a written recipe for chocolate chip cookies, but only a professional baker instinctively knows about how much flour, sugar, eggs or milk they need for fluffy pancakes, chewy cookies or tender crepes. It’s what separates the pro bakers from the fakers. Understanding the base structures of a few pastries, cakes and the like means you can let your creative juices flow when you want to make a batch of cookies on the fly. You can make variations in flavors and add or substitute ingredients, but each ratio represents the basic components needed to create the most elemental version of that food. Here are the 11 ratios that professional chefs in Food Network Kitchen return to again and again.

Pound Cake = 1 part flour: 1 part egg: 1 part fat: 1 part sugar

Baker Move: Pull your butter and eggs out of the fridge a couple of hours before you're ready to bake. Room-temperature butter is better for creaming, and you'll want the eggs at the same temperature to prevent them from seizing.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Classic Pound Cake

Pancakes = 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part eggs: 1/2-part fat

Baker Move: Slowly incorporate the liquid into the dry ingredients while whisking constantly for effortless, lump-free pancake batter.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Simple Homemade Pancakes

Meringue = 2 parts sugar: 1 part egg whites or 1 part sugar: 1 part egg yolks

Baker Move: Avoid cracks in your perfectly piped meringues by keeping your oven door closed while they dry out. Yep, that means no peeking.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Italian Buttercream

Pate a Choux = 1 part flour: 2-parts liquid: 2 parts eggs: 1 part fat

Baker Move: Not many novice bakers will start out making eclairs or cream puffs, but if you are up for the challenge, remember texture is key. Add just enough eggs for the batter to ribbon when pulled up by a spatula.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Spring Pastel Eclairs

Pie Dough = 3 parts flour: 2 parts butter: 1 part water

Baker Move: Soggy-bottomed pie crusts, be gone! Pros know to par-bake their crusts for fresh fillings.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Butter Pie Crust

Fritter = 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part egg

Baker Move: The key to a crispy fritter is to never crowd the pan. Drop too many in the frying oil at once and the temperature will plummet, producing a greasy, mushy fritter.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Corn-Industry Fritters

Cookie = 3 parts flour: 2 parts fat: 1 part sugar

Baker Move: Using a dough scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) to portion equal-size cookies adds a professional touch to your finished cookie plate.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Sugar Cookies

Custard = 2 parts eggs: 1 part liquid

Baker Move: Once you have that ratio down, remember to strain your cooked custard through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Vanilla Creme Brulee

Biscuit = 3 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part fat

Baker Move: Pros always scoop flour, sugar or other dry ingredient into a measuring cup, then use the back of a knife or other straight edge to level it off.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Cornmeal Buttermilk Biscuits

Crepes = 1/2-part flour: 1 part liquid: 1 part eggs

Baker Move: Crepe batter needs time to set up, preferably overnight in the fridge.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Basic Crepe Recipe

Muffin/Quick Breads = 2 parts flour: 2 parts liquid: 1 part eggs: 1 part fat

Baker Move: Baking times and temps can vary based on something as simple as the humidity in the air. Pros test the doneness of muffins, quick breads and cakes by simply inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, they are ready to cool.

Here's a recipe that puts this ratio in action: Blueberry Muffins

Want More Bakers vs. Fakers?

Head to Food Network's Bakers vs. Fakers headquarters for more top-notch baking tips for newbies and pros alike.


3. Don’t overcrowd your pan or baking dish.

Foods release moisture as they cook. When pans get crowded, your food will start to steam itself rather than brown and that will change the texture of the food. Potatoes in the oven won’t be as crisp on the outside, meat won’t brown as well, etc. Give your food ample room in the pan, especially when browning or baking things that need to be crisp (like french fries in the oven or breaded chicken).

If your pan is too small, cook in batches. For example, when I make my Homemade Chicken Nuggets, I have to cook the chicken in batches, unless I use a larger skillet, in order to get the super crispy coating that makes them so good.

Unless the recipe calls it, don’t steam your food by cramming too much together.


Rice is the quintessential deceptively easy dish—it takes time to master!

Customize the flavor profile of the finished dish by stirring some curry powder or Dijon mustard into the cooking liquid.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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Essential Recipes and Tips Your Mother Should Have Taught You

Ten staple recipes just got easier (and tastier) with these tips from Food Network Kitchen. Whether you're a novice or a seasoned cook, you'll want these in your back pocket.

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Renee Comet ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

10 Dishes Every Cook Should Know

Simple Chocolate Chip Cookies

These classic cookies are a go-to sweet treat, easy to whip up and store &mdash well, if they last!

Decode the Recipe

Two Sugars Are Better Than One

Different types of sugar yield different cookie textures. For the perfect chewy/crispy cookie, use a combination of brown sugar (chewy) and granulated (crunch).

Foolproof Way to Measure Flour

Simple Broccoli Stir-Fry

Stir-frying has stood the test of time. It's a wonderful way to cook small pieces of vegetables and meat quickly, without a lot of fat. Prepping your ingredients ahead of time and having them near your stovetop is the key to success.

You Have the Tools

Prep Ahead!

Simple Broiled Flank Steak with Herb Oil

Flank steak is a relatively lean cut of meat but full of flavor. This preparation is low on the fussiness factor: Put your seasoned steak on a preheated broiler pan and cook, no flipping needed.

Slice Against the Grain

Pantry-Ready Sauces

Simple Chicken Soup

This comfort food classic is just as flavorful and soul satisfying as Grandma's chicken soup, but where hers took several hours &mdash or a day &mdash to make, this one takes under an hour.

Fortify Store-Bought Broth

Simple Lemon-Herb Roasted Salmon

This go-to recipe uses a fish's best friends: butter, herbs and lemon. Roasting at a high temperature lets you lightly brown the fillets on foil, without having to use a skillet, so there's minimal cleanup. Make this quick entree often, and use the time you save to try a new side dish to go with it.

Choosing a Fillet

The Benefits of Roasting

Simple Mashed Potatoes

Russet potatoes are best for this recipe because of their high starch content, which makes for fluffier mashed potatoes.

Simmer, Don't Boil

Ditch the Peeler

Simple Roast Chicken with Gravy

You'll love having this roast chicken in your weeknight repertoire. One bird can supply you with a dinner, leftovers for sandwiches or salads, and a carcass and bones (which you can freeze for up to a month) to make stock. Use your homemade stock to make gravy the next time you roast a chicken.

Don't Skimp on Salt

Try the Oysters

Remember that every roast chicken has two "oysters," the tender morsels on each side of the backbone. These two little disks of perfection are like the tenderloin on a chicken. They are tender and juicy, and they're the perfect size to pop into your mouth while you carve the bird. Shhh!

Simple Scrambled Eggs

Slow and steady wins the race! Cooking over low heat ensures soft and luscious scrambled eggs. If you like, at the very end, stir in 1/2 cup of your favorite shredded cheese, such as aged cheddar or Gruyere.

Measure Your Salt

The Secret Ingredient

Simple Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

Try this easy go-to recipe and you'll never buy jarred sauce again. Look for canned San Marzano plum tomatoes &mdash they are slightly sweeter and less acidic than other varieties.

A Prepared Pantry

Adding Extras

Simple Vinaigrette

Make a batch of homemade vinaigrette at the beginning of the week, and toss a few tablespoons with fresh greens for a quick weeknight salad. But remember that vinaigrette isn't just for salad: You can also use it as a quick sauce for fish or grilled chicken.


11 Living Room Decorating Ideas Every Homeowner Should Know

If we asked you to define the heart of your home, which room would you choose? Your first instinct might be the kitchen, but we'd wager that your living room is just as popular a space. It's where you kick back after a long day, watch movies as a family, and entertain your houseguests. When you think about it, the living room is aptly named: It's where you go to live&mdashto be.

Such an important space calls for taking extra care when designing it&mdashespecially since you want the end result to work and feel exactly like you need and want it to. This ultimately leads us to our first of many living room design tips: Establish the area's main purpose before you begin splurging on and arranging any and all of your furniture. Will it be the meeting place of your weekly book group? Supplement your couch with plenty of armchairs and choose a coffee table or ottoman that can double as seating&mdashand then position all of your pieces in a way that encourages conversation. If the space is more often utilized as a home theater, a wraparound sectional, perfect for snuggling, is a must, as is a media console that (stylishly) holds all of your related gadgets.

After you establish your living room's function, then you can get to work on its form. From choosing paint colors and objects that speak to your personality to considering the scale of your walls before choosing art, we've rounded up some of our best tips to get you through the decoration process. Ahead, everything you need to know about designing a living room that reflects and serves you.


6 things every kid should know how to cook before leaving home

When I left home in Santa Barbara to go to college in Philadelphia, I didn’t know how to cook much more than blueberry muffins from a mix. I would make the batter with my two best friends at sleepovers and eat most or all of it raw before the batter made it to a muffin tin.

My lack of pre-college experience in the kitchen strikes me as strange, because my mother was (and still is) a wonderful cook who made dinner for us every night. She would contentedly listen to the radio, eat carrots dipped in peanut butter, and sip a cold beer while she made something delectable for the family.

Sometimes I assisted my mom as she prepared blintzes, brisket, or artichoke dip for gatherings or holidays, but she was a self-sufficient cook most nights.

Now that I have a son leaving for college in August and a high school age daughter heading off for a fall semester in Israel, I’ve been thinking about the state of their kitchen abilities, and what cooking skills they should master before they leave home.

Have I taught them enough to be self-sufficient eaters when they are on their own? Are there a few basic dishes that every child should be able to master before they leave home?

After speaking to many parents and teens about these questions, what I’ve come to believe is this: Our kids should be able to follow a recipe, identify and use basic cooking equipment, abide by kitchen safety rules, and know that if there is something they really would like to eat, they can probably make it themselves. And if they do, it will likely taste better, cost less and be healthier than if they buy it in a package. A base level confidence — which comes with a base level of comfort in the kitchen — is key.

How to Get Them Started: If your child has shied away from the kitchen or you have been reluctant to let him or her in, now is the time to get them started.

  • As a first step, let your child choose a few main or side dish recipes and cook with her so you can impart the basics. Teach her knife and oven skills but try to let her do more than you are comfortable with.
  • Let your child cook a meal or side dish with you nearby. (At least with my kids, the key to not turning them off of cooking was for me to keep my mouth shut unless they asked for help!)
  • Have your child cook for somebody else (a friend, a sibling or the family) when you aren’t home, but are available by phone or text for food processor or stove crises.
  • Give your child their own cookbook as a gift and have them cook for the family once a week. From there, some kids become empowered to get creative, or even, as in the case of my son’s friend Michael Fine, to go to culinary school or make a career in food.

Cooking our own food is one of the best ways to save money and avoid the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure in the U.S. And since cooking and eating together is such a natural and rewarding social opportunity we can share with roommates, friends, partners and parents, I want our children to be competent enough to join in.

Easy Starter Recipes: Here are my top six foods kids should know how to make before they leave home:

  1. Eggs: Scrambled, fried, hard-boiled or combined with vegetables and cheese in an omelet or a frittata, eggs are essential. They are an inexpensive, versatile protein with a long shelf life. Try this: Beat 6 eggs with 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt or sour cream and 2 Tbsp. cottage cheese. Cook them in a small nonstick skillet over medium low heat until they are light and fluffy.
  2. Sauteed chicken or tofu: Once you can saute a protein like chicken or extra-firm tofu, you open your kitchen up to a wide variety of dishes including stir-fries (add vegetables and a homemade sauce) and dishes like chicken Caesar salad and fajitas. Try this: In a large skillet, saute 4 cloves of minced garlic in some oil with 1 halved and sliced red onion, and one sliced red bell pepper. Add 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast, chopped into 1-inch pieces, add 1/3 cup of soy sauce combined with 1 Tbsp. brown sugar or maple syrup. Add a handful of sliced fresh basil at the end if you have it. Serve it with brown rice.
  3. Chili: There are countless variations of chili but what they almost all have in common is that they are healthy, flavorful and only take 20 minutes or so of effort to have a nourishing meal for a crowd or for oneself for a week. Try this: In a large pot, brown 1 – 2 pounds of ground beef, turkey or meatless crumble and add a chopped onion, a large can of drained and rinsed kidney beans, a large can of tomatoes with their liquid, a Tbsp. or two of chili powder, a tsp. of garlic powder. Let it simmer for at least 15 minutes. Serve topped with shredded Cheddar cheese.
  1. Salad with homemade dressing: Your child can learn that a simple homemade vinaigrette takes minutes to make and can transform a salad into something healthy and delicious and tastes even better than dressing from a bottle. In addition to greens, my ideal salad has a fruit, a nut and a cheese. Try this: Whisk together 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1/4 tsp. dried thyme or other dried herb.
  1. Roasted vegetables: Almost any vegetable (broccoli, potatoes, green beans, and carrots are some of my favorites) is at it’s most flavorful when chopped and tossed with 1 – 2 Tbsp. of olive oil, 1/4 tsp. of salt and roasted at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes (toss once during roasting). Get creative with herbs and spices and toss the vegetables with pasta or grains or wrap them in a tortilla or flat bread with hummus.
  1. Burritos: All you really need is 5 minutes and a can of beans, some salsa, cheese and tortillas for satisfying homemade burritos. Try this: Saute a sliced onion and bell pepper in a little oil, then add the beans and some salsa or chili powder. Five more minutes? Make homemade guacamole by mashing a ripe avocado, the juice of 1/4 – 1/2 lime, a little salt and garlic powder.

What Gear Do They Need? If your child is going to have a kitchen in his new living space, I recommend he own at least the following: One large nonstick skillet, one large heavy skillet, a large stockpot, and a rimmed baking sheet. He’ll also need a large slotted spoon, a spatula, a chef’s knife, a bread knife, a vegetable peeler, tongs and a small serrated knife. A blender is great to have for smoothies.(Hopefully he’ll use it for that and not for margaritas!)


7 of 11

Beans

Beans have been infiltrating snack foods for a while (see: Beanitos chips, Hippeas chickpea puffs). Now a new generation of healthy snacks features beans in their original form&mdashthink roasted fava beans and marinated lupin beans. That&rsquos good news for people looking to inject energy into their day or to quiet their grumbling stomachs.

&ldquoWe tend to eat beans in the evening, with dinner, but snacking beans are a great way to spread protein throughout the day, which allows our body to use it more efficiently while helping with satiety between meals,&rdquo says Leslie Bonci, RD, MPH, owner of Active Eating Advice in Pittsburgh.

Beans have been tied to a reduced risk of everything from heart disease to diabetes in multiple studies, and they&rsquore a dietary staple in regions of the world where people live the longest. That makes sense: Across the board, beans and legumes are generous sources of protein, fiber, complex carbs, and phytonutrients, compounds that may help protect against the effects of aging.

Snacking beans are great to enjoy on the go, but they add texture to salads and cheese plates too.

Lupin beans
Roman Empire soldiers reportedly relied on these big, hearty yellow beans for sustained energy during battle. With a buttery, savory taste and a meaty texture, lupins have twice as much fiber as edamame, almost 50 percent more protein than chickpeas, and 80 percent fewer calories than almonds.

Fava beans (broad beans)
These lima bean doppelgängers are excellent sources of folate. Pregnant women need this vitamin to reduce the risk of certain birth defects, and everyone needs it for optimal blood circulation.


A delicious addition to salads or guacamole, avocados have a large stone in the middle that needs to be removed and soft flesh, which can be difficult to keep intact as you open it up. Discover how to prepare an avocado the easy way, plus tips to prevent it from going brown before serving.

How many of the above skills have you mastered? Let us know how you rate yourself in the kitchen via the comments below…