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cooking for beginners?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

i know there are old posts about this subject, but i was looking for something more up to date. i didnt really pick up much from my family from cooking so i was just wondering for all those artisan chefs out there, if there were tips on where to pick up cooking for dummies (books, lessons, websites, recipes) whats a good place to start? thanks in advance

post #2 of 13

Learn to stir fry. Good way to practice your knife skills, it's quick to prep, and quick to cook. It's also really easy and you don't need fancy ingredients.

post #3 of 13
Keep reading the Random Food Questions thread, Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist" columns for The New York Times are good for simple techniques that produce good food and cutting down through a lot of bullshit around dishes (his bit about paella was awesome, "the Spaniards said 'that isn't paella, its just rice with stuff in it. Well paella is just rice with stuff in it."), he's done a couple books which are, IIRC, just collections of his columns but they are called "How to Cook Everything" and "How to Cook (Practically) Everything". The LA Times food section is very good too. The Joy of Cooking is kind of a gold-standard for American fare that anyone can turn to.

I think the best way to get better is to do what helps for anything else... just think very critically about the food, what do i like about this, why or why not, etc. Just try to focus on one thing, get as precise as possible. The precision takes time, what to hone in on will be nearly immediate.
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by edinatlanta View Post

BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH The LA Times food section is very good too. BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH
AHEM.
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by edinatlanta View Post
 he's done a couple books which are, IIRC, just collections of his columns but they are called "How to Cook Everything" and "How to Cook (Practically) Everything".

 


Good advice here. How to Cook Everything is not a collection of columns, but rather an encyclopedic cookbook. My recommendation is to buy this book (or another encyclopedic cookbook, but this one I know is very good and very simple) and start reading it. Read the introduction and beginning parts to get the basic concepts.

 

Then find a recipe that looks decent, buy the ingredients, and cook it according to the recipe. (Simple right?) The more you do this the more you will learn.

 

The recipes in this book are extremely simple and then have slight variations. It is great for learning to cook, but it will not impress anybody. Once you get the basics down, you might discover that you like a certain kind of food and then you can get a cookbook dedicated to that.

post #6 of 13
it's not exactly basic, but I'm a big fan of the Ad Hoc book.
post #7 of 13
IMO, Mark Bittman is horrible. He somehow is able to be, at the same time, incredibly dogmatic while always slinging his greatest new trick. Feh.

Stick with the LA Times.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by itsstillmatt View Post

IMO, Mark Bittman is horrible. He somehow is able to be, at the same time, incredibly dogmatic while always slinging his greatest new trick. Feh.

Stick with the LA Times.
that's why i love matt cheers.gif and edina .... foo.gif
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodguy View Post

that's why i love matt cheers.gif and edina .... foo.gif

Next time we have oysters I will bring my gold leaf.
post #10 of 13
If you are looking to make some very basic dinners, Bittman beats the Joy of Cooking. The LA Times columns will teach you much more about actual cooking, i.e. technique, taste, flavor combination, etc. Russ' books (e.g., How to Pick a Peach) are terrific, too. For an organized introduction to foundational techniques and dishes, you might try James Peterson's Cooking. He goes step by step (with plenty of pictures) and so is a good source for beginners. The recipes aren't terribly complicated, but good technique makes for a much better daily meal.
post #11 of 13
Nobody seems to be mentioning tv. A lot of tv cooking is crap, but there are cooks who will teach you techniques you can carry over to other styles of food. For example, the older Lidia Bastianich shows would give you great tips on simple, fresh, easy Italian dishes. I also have learned a lot about meat and grilling from BBQ University w/ Stepehen Reikland (sp?).
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by philosophe View Post

If you are looking to make some very basic dinners, Bittman beats the Joy of Cooking. The LA Times columns will teach you much more about actual cooking, i.e. technique, taste, flavor combination, etc. Russ' books (e.g., How to Pick a Peach) are terrific, too. For an organized introduction to foundational techniques and dishes, you might try James Peterson's Cooking. He goes step by step (with plenty of pictures) and so is a good source for beginners. The recipes aren't terribly complicated, but good technique makes for a much better daily meal.
i approve of this message. even the stuff about me. my recently retired wife is just starting to learn to cook some dinners and i gave her jim peterson's book. when my daughter went off to college, i gave her bitty's.
post #13 of 13
I can recommend the book, "Now You're Cooking: Everything a Beginner Needs to Know to Start Cooking Today," by Elaine Corn. It assumes complete ignorance on the part of the reader, and covers even the most basic of cooking skills, and the simplest of recipes.
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