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The common mistakes home cooks make – and how to avoid them 

A cook and food author has revealed the six common mistakes home cooks make, and how to avoid making them in your kitchen.

Helen Tzouganatos is the author of Easy Gluten Free, and said she has picked up a host of tips and tricks along the way about cooking, and many of them are things she wishes people had told her when she started out in the kitchen.

From not seasoning properly to burning your garlic, FEMAIL reveals the common mistakes you might be making.

A cook and food author has revealed the six common mistakes home cooks make, and how to avoid them in your kitchen (stock image)

A cook and food author has revealed the six common mistakes home cooks make, and how to avoid them in your kitchen (stock image)

You should rest your meat for half the time it took to cook it in order to bring out the best flavours (stock image)

You should rest your meat for half the time it took to cook it in order to bring out the best flavours (stock image)

1. Not seasoning properly

The first thing Helen said you need to be aware of is that you might not be seasoning your dishes properly. 

‘Food tastes amazing at restaurants because chefs season generously and at the correct stage,’ Helen told Good Food.

She said while salt is the ‘greatest flavour enhancer’, all too often people wait until right at the end and so miss their chance to season their food from within. 

Some foods that should always be seasoned include pasta, green vegetables and meat, and you should season them as you start cooking.

Doing this will amplify the flavours, ‘soften your proteins’ and boost any sweetness in your vegetables.

2. Not adding acid

The second mistake home cooks make is not adding acid to their dishes.

‘A little squeeze of lemon juice or a splash of vinegar will bring a dish to life and make the rest of the flavours “pop”,’ Helen said.

She added that not only are does acid brighten food, but it ‘tenderises proteins’ by helping to break down the collagen in slow-cooked meat. 

Common forms of ‘acid’ you could add to your dishes include citrus juice, vinegar, wine, tomatoes and yoghurt. 

Red or white wine vinegar works especially well in a salad dressing.

While we are all sometimes guilty of cooking in a rush, that doesn't mean you should quickly throw everything into your pan and over-crowd it (stock image)

While we are all sometimes guilty of cooking in a rush, that doesn’t mean you should quickly throw everything into your pan and over-crowd it (stock image)

3. Over-crowding the pan

While we are all sometimes guilty of cooking in a rush, that doesn’t mean you should quickly throw everything into your pan and over-crowd it.

‘Over-crowding the pan will steam your food, making it soggy and pale instead of crisp and caramelised,’ Helen said. 

Instead, you need to focus on even heat distribution and surface area to ensure both your meat and vegetables are cooked correctly.   

4. Not properly resting meat

‘Resting meat after cooking relaxes the muscle fibres and allows the juices to run back into the meat for a juicier and more flavoursome result,’ Helen said. 

The cook said the general rule of thumb is to rest something for half the time you spent cooking it.

It can be all too easy to burn garlic, when you take into consideration the fact that it only needs around 30 seconds in the pan to cook (stock image)

It can be all too easy to burn garlic, when you take into consideration the fact that it only needs around 30 seconds in the pan to cook (stock image)

5. Burning your garlic 

It can be all too easy to burn garlic, when you take into consideration the fact that it only needs around 30 seconds in the pan to cook.

Helen explained that while onions, celery and carrots are all more dense and therefore need longer, the same cannot be said of garlic. 

6. Not enough good quality fat  

Finally, the chef said good quality fats are absolutely vital, whether you’re cooking a soup, a cake or a one-pot braise.

Typically, Helen cooks with extra Virgin olive oil and coconut oil, but she also uses avocado oil, macadamia, peanut and roasted sesame oil to enhance a dish.

Helen’s new book Easy Gluten Free is out now. For more information, please click here

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