Learning how to cook

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by esquire., Jun 30, 2004.

  1. AAA

    AAA Senior member

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    Check out Jacques Pepin's Complete Techniques. A lot of his techniques are fairly advanced, but it has some good stuff for beginners. Also check out his old PBS TV series of the same name....you can pick it up on ebay for 10-20 bucks. I highly recommend checking it out.
     


  2. RatPacker

    RatPacker Active Member

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    I've just started cooking about a year ago and I learned alot from Foodnetwork.com. They have alot of recipes and they grade most of them from easy to medium to hard. Stick with the easy until you get the hang of things. I've made some pretty bad mistakes trying. Also watch Food Network because you pick up little tips here and there. Good Eats with Elton Brown is a good beginning show. He does good recipes and gives you info about it and why the ingredients are needed. Food 911 is another good one.
     


  3. esquire.

    esquire. Senior member

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    Here's a quote I found from ALton Brown:

    " I was frustrated watching the cooking shows, because they weren't realy teaching me anything. A lot of the shows on PBS were just trying to sell cookbooks. It was all recipes.

    I remember watching a show by Ming Tsai that was about cooking monkfish liver, and I'm thinking, 'WHere am I supposed to find monkfish liver? What does this have to do with me.' A lot of chefs make shows to highlight thier restaurant. Well, I don' have a restaurant."
     


  4. jackpiner

    jackpiner New Member

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    Here's an easy way to get your feet wet without costing a lot of time and money. Try enrolling in a cooking class. They can be found at most community colleges or adult ed classes.
    When I was in college, I became tired of the crap I ate. So a buddy and I enrolled in community college beginning cooking class. Best thing we ever did. Not only did we eat well every Monday night, but all of our classmates were women. They even let us have all of the leftovers as all of them were watching their weight.
    I'm quite accomplished in the kitchen these days (wife won't cook so it's up to me), and I owe most of my sucess to that first class I took way back when. Check it out.
     


  5. smokinggun

    smokinggun Member

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    Check out Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Italian Cooking". Very very simple recipes that don't use too many ingrediants or techniques, the very essence of cucina italiana. Also, take a look at "The New Basics Cookbook" from the Silver Palate chicas. The illustrations are lame but they pack a lot of gourmet-type recipes & explanations in 1 tome. As a child of the 80's with a mom who loves to cook, I literally grew-up with Silver Palate recipes.... so i'm probably biased. If you want to dream BIG (or just add something unique to your coffee table), splurge on a copy of Adria's "El Bulli." [​IMG]
     


  6. wicozani

    wicozani Active Member

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    I've been cooking for a long time and have learned quite a bit. However, the single most useful cooking book I have experienced, and still refer to occasionally,is "The Way to Cook", by Julia Child. There are many nice recipes in this book, but it is really about all things technique. Know how to efficiently de-bone a chicken? You'll find this and countless other pearls in this book.

    Jeff
     


  7. petescolari

    petescolari Senior member

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    My suggestions for beginner cookbooks would definitely include The Joy of Cooking. Make sure it is a newer edition if you are buying it used because they have been printing it for over 50 years I believe and some ingredients have evolved over the years.

    I also use epicurious.com for a ton of recipes. If you have never been on their site before, it is amazing. Most of the recipes are from Gourmet magazine and also feature user feedback. They just came out with a huge cookbook as well in the last couple of weeks that culled the best recipes. Another great feature of the site is their recipe box. Basically you can bookmark recipes to your account (free) and access it from any computer.

    Another reason I use the site is that I often plan ahead too far. If I am at work and thinking about dinner, I can figure out all the ingredients while I am at work so I don't have to go home and then back out after work.

    Start broad and then work to the more specific styles, regions, and particular foods you like. There are literally thousands of great cookbooks that are put out by chefs, and restaurants.

    My favorites are The Magnolia Grill cookbook. It's a Beard Foundation award winning restaurant in Durhan NC that I went to last year. If you like grilling, also check out Chris Schlesinger who owns a restaurant in Cambridge, MA (where I live) called the East Coast grill. He is often in the New York Times Food/Wine section. Speaking of which, NYT online often has great recipes every week. Just make sure to print them out as they are fee based after a month. Another is the Silver Palate cookbooks.

    Don't give me too much crap for saying this, BUT, Everyday Food ( I think its called) Martha Stewart has great quick recipes. It is smaller in size, roughly 4 x 5 inches. They have it in Whole Foods here in Boston. I can't believe I just plugged her.

    I was like you as well, but once you nail a recipe, you'll gain confidence and realize who easy some things are. I made potato gnocchi with brown butter sauce a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing.

    If I remember any others I will repost.

    Enjoy
     


  8. BarePaw

    BarePaw Active Member

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    For beginners books, I agree with those who recommended "The Joy of Cooking" and Julia Child's books.
    As you get farther along and want to get fancier, add the English Translation of Escoffier's "Le Guide Cullinaire", or "Larousse Gastronomique" to your cookbook collection. They can tell you how to cook just about everything.

    Those who said to buy fresh vegetables were right. I would add that during the summer and autumn months, you can find much better ingredients at farmer's markets than grocery stores. You can also make deals with the farmers for buying eggs, milk, and meat year round.

    Here are a few basic tips:
    When buying meat, go for grass fed. It's leaner, but has better flavor.
    It's hard to tell fresh eggs when you buy them. If you crack them in the pan and the yolk stands up round, it's fresh. If it flattens out, it's old.
    Also look at the color of the yolk. If it's darker, the hen was allowed out in a chicken yard to scratch. These eggs will be more nutritious. Pale yolk eggs are from caged factory hens.
    Buy "naked" food. Food that is locally produced and less processed tends not to have as much packaging. If you can find out for a fact that it is locally grown, so much the better.
     


  9. Drew

    Drew Well-Known Member

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    The Cook's Bible by Chris Kimball. This book has a lot to say about techniques, equipment, and recipes. Highly recommended. and I second the reference of How to Cook Everything and The Joy of Cooking. I learn a lot from occasionally watching the Food Network. Their website, http://www.foodnetwork.com, has tons of great recipes for virtually anything. Ted Allen of Queer Eye fame has a section on the QE site that details all of the recipes for the different shows. I think the rest of the show tends to produce canned results, but Ted's recipes are pretty good and usually crowd-pleasers that are good to get started with. http://www.bravotv.com/Queer_E....0.shtml
     


  10. Huntsman

    Huntsman Senior member

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    Get a subscription to Cook's Illustratred magazine. There's no advertisements, and the recipes are superb as are the 'why' explanations to supplement the 'how' of the recipes. The editorials are singularly superb literature. The covers could be framed and hung in your dining-room. Regards, Huntsman
     


  11. jekv12

    jekv12 Senior member

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    Agree with all the comments to date. Would like to add a little to a few of the points made so far, and provide some URLs. Knives: the brands mentioned are all top quality; your choice should also include the feel of the knife, how it fits your hand etc. There are two basic shapes to tranditional knives: French and German. The French blades are rather triangluar in shape; the German blades have some curve to them. There are some other differences too that affect how it feels. I started with an 8" German (Wusthoff) chef's knife, but now use a 10" French chef's knife. It allows for more of a slicing action when working with food than a rocking or chopping. Note - you might also find German shapes from Sabatier, so don't go on the country of origin alone. Cutlerly.com (aka Professional Cutlery Direct) is a good source of information, knives, and other cookware. There's also a Sabatier outlet in South Carolina, their number is 800-525-6399 - they carry virtually any size and style you need, in full carbon and high carbon/stainless as well as accessories. I don't believe they have a website. Re: ingredients, for spices and dried herbs, I've relied on Penzey's Spices for years now. Much better than any supermarket brands, you even have a choice of several kinds of cinnamon, for example. Cooking classes - that's a great idea. Viking Ranges opened a number of kitchen supply stores where they also teach classes. Some are hands-on, others are demonstration. They have short series as well as one-night deals on a single topic, you get to test drive a Viking and usually get a discount in the kitchen supply store - where they have the usual gadgets, pots, pans, etc. Viking cooking school info. Cookware - it does pay to invest for the long term. Department stores like Bloomies have good sales on sets from companies like All Clad, etc. Ask about being dishwasher-safe if that's important to you; many anodized finishes can't go in the dishwasher. For a good reference on anything for the kitchen, I suggest "The Well Tooled Kitchen" by Bridge/Tippets. And of course a trip to Bridge Kitchenware in NY...Marshalls, though, has good deals on individual pieces, including knives from time to time. To the main topic, beginning/starting cookbooks, let me suggest: "Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America" - good instructions on technique (with pictures), ingredients, and the recipes are a bit more modern/contemporary than many other books. "The Essential Kitchen" by Christine McFadden has a lot of info on kitchen tools, techniques but only a few recipes. Good info and lots of eye candy. For the primal male cooking experience - grilling - Weber's Art of the Grill is great. Haven't had a bad result from anything in the book, and it helps with complete menus, too. For reference and answers to "what the heck is that ingredient" try "Food Lovers Companion" from Barrons, a small book arranged like a dictionary. If your shelf can handle it "Larousse Gastronomique" (in English) bills itself as the "world's greatest culinary encyclopedia." It is massive and describes just about anything food-related and food-service related you can imagine (even has sections on wines), but the I can't say the recipes are for beginners. Finally, an on-line cook book specialist store is Jessica's Cookbooks. HTH.
     


  12. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Books are great, but nothing replaces observing someone who knows what they are doing in person. I thought I knew how to make a simple red pasta sauce until an Italian lady started one in my kitchen.

    My favorite, for history and recipes: the Larousse gastronomic encyclopedia.

    You may want to ask people on the forum if they are willing to share their favorite easy recipes with you.
     


  13. nightowl6261a

    nightowl6261a Senior member

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    Emeril Lagasse, and foodtv.com, you will learn all you need to, and Emeril live show has the easiest great food to cook.
     


  14. globetrotter

    globetrotter Senior member

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    for somebody who is starting out, I would suggest getting a starter cooking kit form someplace like target or ikea. that may be sacrilige, but before you put good money into good knives and pots, you might want to get a feel for what you use and what you don't use, without investing too much.
     


  15. Fabienne

    Fabienne Senior member

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    Very true. And you can still make wonderful dishes with all the wrong utensils. I have cooked at friends' places who didn't have as much as a wooden spoon or a decent skillet. After seeing the distressed look on my face the first time, they finally purchased a wooden spoon. [​IMG]
     


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