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Practical kitchen skills help

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I have some basic kitchen and cooking skills developed over the past 20 odd years cooking for my family and friends. But I am looking for some help developing various aspects to my repertoire. I am okay, albeit a bit slow with basic knife techniques, can utilize most basic kitchen tools, blenders, graters, mandolin etc correctly and appropriately when needed for various preparations. I have the basics of general cooking styles pan fry, deep fry, roast, sauté, braise, grill etc. and usually can pare the ingredient prep and cooking technique to the dish I think up appropriately, for example if I have a tough hunk of shoulder I first think braise as apposed to roast or grill.

I am sure I have some bad techniques mixed with correct ones. I am self taught from the school of hard knocks. I am looking for some DvD series for various cooking/knife techniques. I was thinking of taking one or several of the 2-5 day sessions offered at some local culinary institutes, it is nice being in the SF bay area we have many local schools. But I think that I would get more from a DvD that I can watch over and over pause while trying the techniques in the kitchen. Than from a day here and there preparing items and getting a few minutes at most of assistance in person on particular techniques. I have searched around Amazon etc and found several DvDs on knife skills but not on other general skills like trussing a bird or roast etc which I can get done but it’s definitely not as pretty as I would like.

I am also looking for a general reference book describing various lesser known ingredients and techniques that are useful for them, for example hearts of palm or lemon grass which are common in some regions but not generally used in others. I had some asian ingredients left over and did a 40 clove chicken with lemon grass, hoisin, and mirin that turned out very good. I am always looking for new/different ingredients to try and having some resource of interesting ingredients sounds appealing.

This got longer than I intended so I will cut if off there. If anyone has any recommendations I would appreciate them.
post #2 of 7
Welcome! :smiles:

I'm not much up on DVDs, but you might want to see if some of the better basic magazines, like Fine Cooking or Cook's Illustrated, have some. I know Fine cooking has all their issues for the first 15 years or so on disk.

As for books, even though you have some skills already, you should get The New Cook by Marry Berry and Marlena Spieler. It has tons of pictures, and very good explanations.

Another couple of books I like for their clarity and breadth are:

Essentials of Cooking by James Peterson

Jacques Pepin's Complete Technique

Probably all are available from Amazon and other booksellers.

Oops, just reread the end of your request. :blush:

Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini by Elizabeth Schneider is my go-to book for unusual, um, vegetables. She also put out Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, which might be hard to find but worth it.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 7
Speaking about Pepin, he supposedly has a dvd on technique - something like "complete techniques". I've heard ppl say good things about it. Think I saw it on amazon for like $25.
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Suzzane,
Thanks for your reply, I had already placed "Jacques Pepin's Complete Technique" and "Vegetables from Amaranth to Zucchini" in my wish list along with a few other books that looked promising based on reviews on Amazon. I also have a knife skills DvD on there and for $15.00 I figured it's hard to go too wrong.
post #5 of 7
Don't get In the Hands of a Chef: The Professional Chef's Guide to Essential Kitchen Tools (Culinary Institute of America) from the CIA. Awful book. The CIA should be embarassed.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
eeediot, Thanks I somehow missed that DvD even though it was on my recommendations on Amazon. It looks like it might have some menuing/production issues that make it less than ideal but the content gets good reviews so I will add it to my order as well and see how it goes.
post #7 of 7
sure. And I almost forgot, but all these episodes of Pepin's More Fast Food My Way are completely free on youtube and decent quality YouTube - Broadcast Yourself.
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