The Kitchen Basics Quiz

By: Monica Lee
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Some people open a refrigerator and see stale bread, a dozen eggs, and say there's nothing to eat. While others open the refrigerator and see ingredients for french toast dusted with a little cinnamon and sugar for added flavor. And if they see some jam left in the jar, along with a slice of ham and Swiss cheese, then it's a Monte Crisco sandwich. Yes, if you know your way around the kitchen, you'll never be hungry. And with all the different ways to bake, broil, slow cook, poach and saute, something tasty is bound to result from your mix of ingredients. 

What exactly are the basics? Well, it's the simple knowledge of how to keep yourself fed, stimulate your palate and clean-up in a breeze. We're not asking whether or not you know how to use 10 different spices and seven different pans to make a meal. This quiz will assess whether you can do the minimum to put a nice dinner on the table. For instance, can you make a roux, know how to separate eggs, or when to salt meats?  Find out your level of aptitude for appliances as well as the depth of your culinary jargon. If you don't like the outcome, you can always make something simple - like dinner reservations. 

The recipe says to whip egg whites. What tool do you use?

The idea of whipping egg whites is to get as much air in them as possible. This makes whatever you are combining them with light and fluffy.

You are boiling spaghetti. What do you cook it in?

You can’t boil pasta properly if there isn’t enough room in the pot. So you need a big, deep pot, called a stockpot.

What ingredients do you need to make a roux?

Roux is used as a thickening agent for gravy, sauces, soups and stews. Flour is added to any type of fat, including butter, bacon drippings, oil and shortening.

You need to scrape the batter from the sides of a bowl. What is the best utensil to use?

After you use this broad, flat, blunt bladed instrument for scraping the sides of the bowl, use it to spread the batter evenly in a baking pan.

Approximately how long should you simmer chicken stock when you make it from scratch?

This is with a stock pot, not an instant pot! When it comes to intensifying the flavor of your chicken stock, the longer the better, but no longer than 10 hours.

Which of these should you do when making pasta?

Unless the recipe calls for it, there is no reason to add oil and salt to pasta water, which only adds unnecessary sodium and fat. Pasta cooks perfectly in boiling water alone.

What type of kitchen equipment do you need to bake cookies?

Although baking pans or sheets are perfect for baking cookies, they can also be used to bake vegetables and other foods. And, if you cover the pan in parchment paper prior to baking, clean up will be a breeze.

You need to strain pasta. What kitchen equipment do you need?

Use a colander to strain pasta, clean produce like berries, or rinse canned beans. It's a "must-have" in any kitchen.

You need to mince some onions. What does that mean?

Mincing is to cut up, or grind, food into very small pieces, typically in a food processor or with a sharp knife.

You want to puree soup and make smoothies. Which of these should you purchase?

Although immersion blender is correct, you can also use a regular blender, or food processor, to puree soups and make smoothies.

Season, truss, then cook. What are you making?

You're roasting a chicken. To truss the bird, cross the legs and tie them together with kitchen twine. Then lift the wing tips up and tuck them under the bird.

When do you salt a steak?

According to food&wine.com, season steaks and pork roasts right before searing. However you should season lamb shanks the day before they are braised.

You want to rearrange vegetables on the grill. What utensil do you want to use?

Whether you're serving salad or rearranging meat on the grill, use tongs to keep a good grip on the food.

You have a pan of boiling water, a splash of white wine vinegar and a slotted spoon. What are you making?

This is all you need to make poached eggs. Once the water is boiled, it takes less than 3 minutes to make. Remember to stir the water to create a gentle whirlpool which helps the egg white wrap around the yolk.

What's the most common way to separate egg yolks from egg whites?

Break open an egg into two halves, and pass the yolk several times between the halves, letting the white drop down into a bowl underneath.

When your guest wants his or her steak cooked "medium", what do they want?

When you cook a steak medium, it will feel firm and springy to the touch. Whereas a rare steak will feel soft and spongy with slight resistance.

What does "au gratin" mean?

Gratin is a widespread culinary technique in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust.

Why is it a good practice to brown your meat before adding it to a stew or chili?

When you brown your meat, you cook it quickly over high heat, causing the surface of the food to turn brown. This sears in the moisture or keeps the interior from drying out.

How would you describe a "simmer"?

If not watched carefully, simmers can easily become rolling boils. Adjusting the heat and stirring helps keeps the temperature just below a boil.

Which cut of beef is perfect for a slow cooker?

The chuck roast contains connective tissue made of collagen and can be a little tough, but provides great flavor when cooked over a long period of time.

How long should you rest a cooked steak?

A cooked steak should rest at room temperature for at least five minutes and ideally around half the cooking time – it will stay warm for up to 10 minutes.

Should you wash lettuce before you make a salad?

It’s a good idea to always wash lettuce and other leafy greens before you eat them. Soaking lettuce in water does not wash away any nutrients but could wash away a food-borne illness.

What is a zester?

A zester has tiny cutting holes on one end that creates threadlike strips of peel when pulled over the surface of a lemon lime or orange.

What does "stir frying" mean?

When you stir-fry you quickly fry small pieces of food in a large pan over very high heat while stirring.

You are dredging food in flour. What are you making?

Dredging is when you lightly coat a food with flour, cornmeal, or breadcrumbs before frying or baking.

What is an egg wash?

An egg wash is an egg yolk or egg white mixed with a small amount of water or milk. It's brushed over baked goods before baking to give them gloss and color.

What does "au jus" mean?

"Au jus" is French phrase describing meat that is served with its own natural cooking juices.

What is it called when sugar is heated into a golden brown liquid?

To caramelize, you heat sugar until it liquefies and becomes a clear syrup ranging in color from golden to dark brown.

To sharpen a kitchen knife, you might use which of these?

Using a sharp knife will make your food taste better. Precisely cut food will cook at an even rate for a delicious final dish.

What does it mean to prepare meat "blackened"?

Blackened is a cooking method in which meat or fish is rubbed with Cajun spices and cooked in a very hot cast-iron skillet.

How do you minimize tears when cutting an onion?

By using a sharp knife you'll release less of the enzymes into the air that bother your eyes and make them water. The same thing will happen when you cut onions in cold water. Or cut the root last—it has a higher concentration of enzymes.

When carrots are to be "julienned", what does that mean?

Julienned carrots are cut thinly into ⅛-inch thick strips, creating uniform matchsticks. This allows for uniform and quicker cooking than when cooking a whole carrot.

How do you tell a watermelon is ripe?

Give it a knock with your knuckles. A muffled hollow thud means it's sweet, and a higher-pitched ringing sound means it is unripe.

Why do most recipes call for salting eggplant slices before cooking?

Besides adding flavor from the salt, it draws out juices, which, particularly for older eggplants, can be bitter. It also tightens and firms up the flesh, making the eggplant less likely to soak up as much oil.

What happens if you cook an egg (in the shell) in the microwave?

Do NOT cook an egg in its shell in the microwave. It will explode.

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