Have you ever taken any shortcuts in cooking? I did that the first time I made flan (creme caramel). It came back to bite me (pathetic pun intended).
We all think we know what a good cook is supposed to do, and what they’re not supposed to do, but who doesn’t break the golden rules now and then? Here’s your chance to confess. I’ll boldly go where none of us have gone before by revealing my seven culinary sins. Not deadly, mind you – I haven’t killed anyone. Not yet, anyway.
So, confession time! Guaranteed to send the purists running for the hills:
- Pancake mix – this is one I confess to with only a slight blush. I know that it’s quite easy – not to mention healthier and more cost-effective – to make it from scratch, but – life’s too short, so I buy the packet.
- Especially when baking, eggs should be at room temperature, but I rarely plan sufficiently in advance to bring them out of the fridge in time. Good thing I rarely bake! And no matter what they say about refrigerating eggs, there is no way I will store eggs at room temperature in a tropical climate!
- Stock cubes – a real purist’s no-no, but I use them. I do try to use the low-salt, MSG free variety though.
- My pasta isn’t always al-dente. So sue me.
- I sometimes cut lettuce with a knife in order to get that shredded effect. Lettuce is – apparently – supposed to be torn to bits by hand, not cut or sliced, but nobody’s perfect, certainly not me.
- Measuring less than scientifically. Again, this is why it’s a good thing I don’t bake that often.
- I slice and eat cakes while still piping hot, at least when my mother isn’t looking! Seriously though, who can resist?
Here are two rules I used to observe, but recently learned they were myths. Cooking wisdom dictates that one should never immerse mushrooms in water to wash them, because they will absorb it. Apparently this is not the case. The same goes for salting eggplant (US)/aubergine (UK). Lots of recipes instruct you to do this, ostensibly to draw out the bitterness, but many cooks will attest that it actually doesn’t make that much of a difference.
How about you? Which cooking rules do you admit to breaking?
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 4 egg yolks
- 1⅓ cups sweetened condensed milk
- 1⅓ cups evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- Mix sugar and water and cook in heavy saucepan over low heat until a thick, dark caramel syrup forms.
- Pour carefully into 10" [25 cm] baking pan and spread all over. Cool down until the caramel hardens.
- Heat oven to 300 ºF [150ºC].
- Mix together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk. Stir in vanilla. Sieve to get rid of undissolved egg parts.
- Pour carefully into baking pan, trying not to disturb the caramel layer.
- Bake in hot water bath (bain marie) in oven for one hour or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Cool down to room temperature
- Loosen edges of flan, place a serving plate on top of the mold (one which will retain the syrup) and invert.
- Chill before serving.
Be very careful with hot caramel, it can cause serious injuries.