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Where to start

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I have no experience cooking but I'm looking for advice on getting started. I don't have the desire at the moment to get into the industry. I'm just looking for recommendations on learning and getting good at cooking all types of foods. I will start out slow learning the basics of cooking, the kitchen and the methods. I guess I should start with a good cookbook, one that teaches instead of just offering recipes. I have Professional Cooking 6th College Edition and I’ve started reading it. Thank you very much.
post #2 of 4
If, as your post implies, you have zero cooking experience I would not start with a book aimed at professionals. Instead I'd go with some of the entry-level consumer books:

Fanny Farmer
Joy of Cooking
Settlement Cookbook
Etc.

These will walk you through the basic steps as well as providing easy-to-follow recipes.

But the best way of learning to cook is to cook. Pick a technique, and ring the changes on it. Once you're comfortable with that, move on to another technique.

For instance, lots of recipes out there for pan-frying chicken breasts and pork cutlets. What I would do is start with chicken. Panfry a breast (which merely means you are cooking it with very little oil) all by itself, and see what happens to it. Then try breading it, using the classic three-plate method (flour or seasoned flour in the first, egg wash in the next, bread crumbs in the third) making mental notes of the differences in flavor and texture. Then do the same thing, varying the breading. Instead of breadcrumbs try ground nuts, or crushed potato chips, or ground pretzels.

Then try varying the breading plates. Instead of eggs, try a little mustard, or mayo, or chile sauce. Anything that will form a glue to hold the breading.

Then, after all that, try varying the spices---both the spices themselves and when you apply them. That is, will seasoned flour give a different flavor profile than putting the same seasonings directly on the chicken? What happens if you thin the egg wash with milk? Or with hot sauce? Etc.

By this time two things will happen. One, you will be heartily tired of chicken. :lol: But, second, you will know everything you have to know about pan frying, and will be well on your way to understanding how flavors work together. The lessons you learned going through this drill will serve you anytime you pan fry, whether it be chicken, or pork, or even fish.

So then go on to a different technique, and ring the changes on it. Is there a difference between panfrying and sauteing? As you learn about sauteing you'll apply what you already know about panfrying, and the differences will pop out.

Welcome to the facinating world of the kitchen.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 4
One more point.

To become a good cook you do not want to handicap yourself unnecessarily. And, because so much kitchen work requires knife skills I would suggest you invest in at least one good knife, and learn how to maintain it.

Yes, good cutlery is expensive. But it lasts forever. And, more importantly, good cutlery will make the learning curve a whole lot less steep.

And do not frustrate yourself watching the celebrity chefs cut and chop. Good knife skills depend on precision, not on speed. Learn to use the knives properly, and speed will come with experience.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #4 of 4
I have to agree with KYHeirloomer, pick up a book like the Joy of Cooking or another book like one from the Company's Coming series. I have most of them and they have been excellent books.

Head down to your library before you go out and buy. You will find tonnes of stuff there that if you like you can go out and purchase later.
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