Your Cooking Companion

Posted in Announcements, Fixes & Tips
April 10, 2020

The Hidden Ingredients in Every Recipe, Part 2 of 3

We talked yesterday about the fact that the need for special tools is almost never called out at the beginning of a recipe. They’re hidden within the instructions.

The second hidden ingredient is TEMPERATURE.

The one that messes me up almost every time is when an ingredient is supposed to be at room temperature before I start baking. It’s always butter or eggs. That information is there, in print, but I just miss seeing it, almost always. I’ve learned to soften butter in the microwave and walk around with one or two cold eggs tucked into my bra to warm them up faster. I mean, baking is usually an impulse thing for me. Who thinks about baking far enough ahead to set things out to warm up??

Again, it comes down to reading every scrap of information below the ingredient list. At the top of the instructions, it may tell you to preheat the oven, or the skillet, or the grill to a specified temperature.

“Okay, got it,” we say, completely missing the part where it says to turn the heat down when it goes in the pan, or 15 minutes after you put it in the oven. Woops.

For example, here is how to cook a Perfect Turkey. This really is how I do it, and it requires paying a lot of attention to temperature. How many references to temperature are in this article? Answer: SIX. Be careful, your eyes will want to skim the text, and if you miss a step, your turkey could be a mess.

For quiche, you put the pie in at 425°, and 15 minutes later, you lower the oven temp to 350°. But you won’t find that instruction at the top of the recipe. It’s going to be hidden toward the bottom. Sometimes a recipe says, at the very bottom, “Bake in preheated 350° oven”. Well, that would have been nice to know earlier, wouldn’t it?

And if all those details aren’t enough trouble, your oven may not even be cooking at the temperature you think it is.

Also, some things need to cool before you can serve them. A turkey or a roasted chicken needs 30 minutes! And there are many main dishes and desserts that will not be right if you don’t let them cool first, or even chill them. Did you see that instruction when you planned the timing for your fancy dinner party?

The remedy is the same one that I talked about in yesterday’s blog about tools: Read the recipe before you start. And here I will insert the word, “CAREFULLY”. It may even be wise to read it to yourself out loud, to make sure you’re paying attention.

Tomorrow, Hidden ingredient #3.

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