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Cooking 101?

Old 04-18-07, 08:13 AM
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Cooking 101?

I thought I knew a little about cooking. Apparently a little is all I know. Since moving into my apartment I have been trying to do more cooking, but I find that I am pretty ignorant when it comes to even the basics. (What's flat-leaf parsley and is that different from regular parsley? Is this knife used for meat, or is that one? Am I cleaning this grille pan right?)

Is there a way, other than taking a cooking class, to get a good beginner's course in cooking. I'm looking for an introduction to knives, spices, cooking methods, the different types of pots and pans and the differences between them. You know, basic stuff like that. How long I can store foods, the best way to store them. I guess you guys sort of get the point. I want to approach it as if I have never seen a kitchen before.

Is there a good DVD set that would have this? I don't mind reading a website, but I learn better with video demonstrations. Ideally I would take a class, but right now it's not feasible for me. In the future I might, but I kind of want to take a crash course right now. So, what do you guys suggest?
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Old 04-18-07, 08:18 AM
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foodtv.com has some stuff (videos and demos) on their site that is good basic info... A really great skill to learn early is how to sharpen knives. Sharp knives are one of the real keys to effecient and good cooking, plus it save you from losing a bodypart.
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Old 04-18-07, 08:25 AM
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Pepin be the shizznit, yo.

Seriously.
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Old 04-18-07, 08:38 AM
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Watch Good Eats on the Food Network.
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Old 04-18-07, 08:39 AM
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Don't you know anybody that's a good cook? Flatter that person by asking them to teach you a few things about cooking and help you prepare a few simple dishes.
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Old 04-18-07, 08:42 AM
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The best way to learn to cook is to find someone's Gramma, and ask her to show you how.
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Old 04-18-07, 10:25 AM
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My grandmother can cook, but I was looking for more formal teaching. I will probably ask her to show me some of her better dishes after I get the basics down.

I have also DVR'ed a bunch of shows on the Food Network, I think Good Eats was one of them, and I will be watching them in my free time. However I think I will definitely purchase the DVD Wendersfan suggested unless someone has other video suggestions with reviews as good.
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Old 04-18-07, 01:15 PM
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Basic cooking is not that hard. I think alot of people make the mistake of trying to be a master chef at the first go.

I cook alot of thinks from a generic Betty Crocker cookbook, just follow the directions. If in doubt I substitute generic ingredients. I would never think of trying to distinguish types of parsley, I would use the dried stuff in a bottle.

If you want to take a class go for it but just making something good is not that hard.
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Old 04-18-07, 01:23 PM
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Buy a cast-iron pan and season it by cooking a pound of bacon in it. You can basically cook anything in a cast-iron and it's really hard to burn anything in them. Also, they go straight into the oven, work much better than pans that cost ten times as much and basically last forever.

Last edited by Hiro11; 04-18-07 at 01:38 PM.
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Old 04-18-07, 01:32 PM
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Cook's Ilustrated Magazine and their cookbook "Best Recipe" and are the way to go.

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Old 04-18-07, 01:45 PM
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Run out and buy the Joy of Cooking cookbook. IMO, this is the best all-around cookbook for basic and intermediate cooking. It is my primary reference in the kitchen.

And, as mentioned above, watch Good Eats. Alton Brown does a good job explaining the how and why of cooking.

I also second using a decent cast iron skillet. It works better and is cheaper than pans costing 10x as much. (I surfaced both of mine with a steel brush on a drill press and some vegetable oil. It is slicker than my non-stick pans.)

Last edited by Pistol Pete; 04-18-07 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 04-18-07, 01:48 PM
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Theres so many cookbooks from EZ to chef style, along with webistes featuring recipes for nearly anything, its impossible to not know "how to cook"
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Old 04-18-07, 02:28 PM
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I can make basic stuff, that wasn't really the problem. I was trying to expand a little, but found myself running into problems trying to understand some of the stuff I wasn't familiar with. I felt that a basic introduction would help me learn some stuff that would allow me to build on, and then move into more elaborate dishes.
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Old 04-22-07, 03:55 AM
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I've cooked in resturants and at home since I was 13, and I still can't operate a cast iron skillet well.

Anyway, when you start cooking, the best suggestion I have for people is to get all of your ingredients measured and ready before actually cooking. Measure and put them in individual saucers like the tv show people do. Most new cooks screw something up because they are scrambling for an ingredient they forgot.

As you get better, you'll end up not measuring anything. You'll just eye it, and you'll remember how much a pinch of something adds to taste.

I have picked up a couple of the "...For Dummies" books on different styles of cooking. They have good recipes, and also have a lot of good trivia and info in them.
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Old 04-22-07, 08:23 AM
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Originally Posted by mndtrp

I have picked up a couple of the "...For Dummies" books on different styles of cooking. They have good recipes, and also have a lot of good trivia and info in them.
You can also try the "Complete idiots guide" also...The best way to get better is to keep cooking.
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Old 04-22-07, 08:36 AM
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Old 04-22-07, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Nick Danger
great, now the ads are smaller and on the left side
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Old 04-22-07, 08:42 AM
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Here's another good show to watch on Food Network that deals with basics: How To Boil Water
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Old 04-22-07, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by TomOpus
Here's another good show to watch on Food Network that deals with basics: How To Boil Water
water in a pot, on high for a few minutes

geez people are retarded
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Old 04-22-07, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by tdirgins
Cook's Ilustrated Magazine and their cookbook "Best Recipe" and are the way to go.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/cpa/...code=NETYA1961

If you want to become a good cook, definitely get a suscription to this magazine, by Christopher Kimball. They stick to pretty standard, traditional cuisine that you would make on a regular basis(not too much artsy-fartsy "roasted guinea hen with citrus mango pesto cilantro creme brulee sauce" stuff). And what they do for a recipe is they try out the 5 or 6 most common variations of a recipe, and determine exactly what methods and ingredients work (and WHY they work), and then come up with a recipe combining the best of all of them. After making an apple pie once for my folks using his pie recipe, my mom (a VERY good cook) permanently switched to his pie crust recipe! They also will compare a lot of commercial products (what is the best supermarket dried pasta brand, or olive oil, etc.) And they review kitchen appliances and gadgets, as well. A bunch of his best magazine recipes are collected in this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Cooks-Bible-Be...7249171&sr=1-1

...and he also has a PBS show called America's Test Kitchen.

The other advice I would give is this: do everything completely from scratch. Don't ever use tomatoes with basil or anything already added, don't ever use any premade mixes or sauces or soup bases or anything where they've already combined ingredients for you---even if they're not completely awful, they will almost certainly lower the quality of whatever you're making. And don't be frightened of salt.

Last edited by Ky-Fi; 04-22-07 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 04-22-07, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Canadian Bacon
water in a pot, on high for a few minutes

geez people are retarded
Actually, there are even secrets to boiling water.

1. Start with COLD water, not hot. You'd think hot water would boil faster, but 'tain't so.

2. Sprinkle a little salt in the water and it will come to a boil sooner.

3. COVER the pan and it will also boil sooner.

You didn't wanna know this, but hey ...
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Old 04-22-07, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana
Actually, there are even secrets to boiling water.

1. Start with COLD water, not hot. You'd think hot water would boil faster, but 'tain't so.
This made no sense to me so I tried it. Hot tap water took 3.5 minutes to boil and the same amount of cold tap water in the same pot on the same flame took 8.5 minutes to boil.

Originally Posted by Vibiana
2. Sprinkle a little salt in the water and it will come to a boil sooner.
I didn't try this since it would require more control on the beginning temperature than I wanted to give right now. However salt raises the boiling point of water so there is no good reason why it would boil sooner if the salt is dissolved.

Originally Posted by Vibiana
3. COVER the pan and it will also boil sooner.
I'll go along with this since it would hold in the heat better.
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Old 04-22-07, 04:57 PM
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Yes, with all do respect Vibs, #1 and #2 make no sense.

For #1, the key is getting the heating element hot enough to boil it and the pan itself needs to get hot enough. The virtue to cold water is that hot water from the pipe might leach some minerals and metals, cold is somewhat less likely to do so. That's why it is better to heat cold water than to rely on hot water from pipes.

For #2, there's just no chemical reason this is true. Simply not possible, sorry.

#3 is of course true as it holds the heat in. It is the same reason when making some stews and sauces, etc... they tell you to bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a much lower heat to simmer. The heat is being retained when you shut the lid (with a decent pot) but you're lowering the heat on the bottom reducing the risk of burning the food.
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Old 04-22-07, 04:59 PM
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My online resources

Already mentioned --> www.foodtv.com
My favorite --> www.epicurious.com
A good database --> www.allrecipes.com

For really just starting from scratch, I like the complete idiots guide

Watch the shows on TV when you can, you'll learn a little here and there, and you'll be inspired.
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Old 04-22-07, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana
2. Sprinkle a little salt in the water and it will come to a boil sooner.
You only salt the water when you are cooking pasta.
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