10 tips every cook should know

 fried egg

What do you do on your days off? If you are like Felicity Cloake, you spend the day cooking and baking, honing your culinary skills. To help you jump-start the process, Cloake offers 10 cooking tips everyone should know, culled from seven years of preparing dishes for The Guardian

First and foremost is the adage that "knives don't sharpen themselves". While it may be tempting to put off knife sharpening when you have a bevy of other chores waiting to be done, it is one of the better investments of time in the kitchen. Says Cloake, "Not only are sharp knives safer, because they're less likely to slip off the food and on to your tender flesh, but they make chopping so much quicker and more efficient that you're likely to find yourself imbued with a renewed enthusiasm for the likes of stir fries and ratatouille."

Another piece of advice - one that I really need to take to heart - is to never apologize or explain. Your guests are unlikely to notice the slight imperfections in your dish, so don't draw attention to them. Also high on the list of things I need to do is follow Cloake's admonishment to be patient. No matter what the recipe says, the sauce will not be reduced by half in five minutes. Always allow more time than you think - if you are cutting it close on time, you should probably choose another recipe. 

Cloake reminds us that the dial or digital display on our oven is only a guideline - most ovens run either hot or cold. While Cloake wants us to trust our senses instead, I prefer to use an inexpensive thermometer to make sure the oven is at the correct temperature. 

One of the final pieces of advice that Cloake offers is that when in doubt, add an egg, or a "scattering of fresh herbs, or a pinch of chilli flakes. Restaurant dishes look good because someone has spent almost as long on the way they look as they way they taste," she says. 

Photo of Felicity Cloake's perfect fried egg from The Wednesday Chef by Luisa Weiss

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