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The Best-Kept Secrets of Cooking

Whether you're brand new to cooking or looking to develop your skills, there is always scope to learn new tips that help you to create Insta-worthy meals. So what easy tips will help you to take your dishes to the next level?

Use the Right Equipment

A master craftsman will always have excellent tools, and the kitchen environment is no different. You don't need to spend a fortune on endless variations, but a few quality items will reap rewards. Invest in an excellent multi-purpose knife and some good-quality chopping boards. Buy a non-stick pan or a heat-treated skillet which requires oiling after use. Throw away old and damaged tools and invest in essentials such as a whisk, ladle, grater, mixing bowl and perhaps a food processor if you can afford one. You'll find plenty on sale at stores such as John Lewis >>

Don't Be Afraid of Salt

Chefs tend to add tiny pinches of salt throughout their cooking process rather than just at the end. Think of it as a layering process. If you are trying to cut down on sodium, choose an excellent-quality salt such as the classic Maldon or Himalayan pink variety, and experiment with alternative flavour enhancers such as lemon juice and celery salt. Don't forget fresh black pepper either! Remember that even a bowl of fresh undressed pasta tastes incredible when it is augmented with a good-quality olive oil, spritz of lemon and plenty of salt and pepper. The Selfridges online food hall has plenty of inspiration, including a sea salt combined with white truffle for the ultimate in luxury!

Get the Pan Really Hot

Before you cook with oil in a pan, make sure that it is really hot. That way the food will begin to cook instantly when you add it, sealing in flavour and nutrients. If the oil is cold, the food will simply sit in it and absorb the fat whilst the pan warms. If your food starts to stick, add a few drops of stock or water to loosen it. Don't throw away the sticky brown bits of food that accumulate in the pan whilst cooking, though, as these contain all of the flavour! Choose oils with a high smoke point, such as light olive oil, avocado oil and sesame oil, depending on the cuisine that you are cooking. Waitrose has a great selection >>

Trust Your Taste

As you get more accomplished at cooking, you will find that you can adjust your recipes as you cook them. Keep tasting as you prepare food, and add a little extra sugar, salt, spice or citrus along the way so that the final taste is perfectly balanced. It's well worth investing in more knowledge and ideas too, so why not buy some good cookbooks to get recipe inspiration and plenty of guidance from the pros? Amazon is your first choice for all of the gastronomic best sellers.

So if you're feeling inspired to become a better cook this year, get into the kitchen and get under way with the best learning approach of all - plenty of practice and a steep learning curve along the way.

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