Do you ever flick through social media and feel like a failure? I mean, every food post is a perfect cake, or an incredible smoothie bowl, or exquisite chocolate slice, or a green smoothie with every veggie under the sun. Every. Single. Post. Why don’t people post their failures? Every photo is just so perfect. And I think that is making us feel like we are less than perfect. That somehow we are inadequate. It makes us think that no-one ever fails when it comes to cooking. That somehow we are the only one to burn food, or bake a cake that doesn’t rise, or make a dish that tastes so bad we have to throw it away.
But that’s not true. Every single person who has ever cooked has created a failed recipe at least once. When I first started cooking, I probably created more failures than successes. I’ve put cakes in the oven without mixing in all the ingredients. I’ve thrown extra ingredients in thinking it will taste delicious, when in fact, it turns into a mishmash of flavour that even the dog avoids. And just like anything in life, practice makes perfect.
Here are my five top tips for recreating the perfect recipe very time.
1. Be prepared
Have everything ready, all the ingredients washed, chopped, sliced and diced. Put them into little bowls, just like you see on TV cooking shows. It may mean extra washing up but it also means you’re less likely to burn something or not have a necessary ingredient when you think you do.
2. Read the instructions
Twice. Read through all the instructions at least twice before even starting the recipe. Just skimming, you may miss an important step. Reading through before starting helps you to clarify each step before starting so you’re not ready to put something in the oven before realising that you haven’t pre-heated it.
3. Visualise the steps
When I first started cooking I would read the instructions and then do a quick 2 minute fly through practising everything in my head. It was only by doing this that I realised that not every recipe gives you all of the information that you need. If you can see yourself preheating the oven, lining the dish, rinsing and chopping, pouring into the dish you should pick up that you haven’t blended the ingredients first.
4. Ignore the Time Frames
As a new cook, you will take longer, much longer, than the recipe suggests to prepare a dish. The cooking time should be about the same but preparation takes time to master. Give yourself that time to master the preparation. Only when you feel comfortable will you a able to take shortcuts and then get down to the suggested preparation time.
5. Don’t Cook a New Recipe When You Want to Impress Someone
Test a new recipe and test it again. Cook it a few times before inviting someone over to impress with your new cooking prowess. Have you ever watched Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules and the contestants are messing up their favourite dish. They’ve cooked it plenty of times before, but now they’re under pressure and they’re messing up. Don’t put yourself under pressure.
Cooking is not only necessary, it’s enjoyable. When you first start to cook anything, or when you try a new cuisine, or a new style, or just a new recipe, be kind to yourself so that you can create a great dish each and every time. Follow these five easy steps to avoid cooking failures and take yourself from a basic chef to a master chef.