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"Trick Progression" in Cooking

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello Culinary world!

 

I've really been enjoying my time in the kitchen recently. Cooking for friends and families has helped ease the recent burden of applying to professional school. While I've always enjoyed cooking I was left without direction until I came across my collegiate organic chemistry courses. I learned about some of the various chemical reactions in cooking which sparked a desire to explore this world further. 

 

As a strange aside; the skateboarding community refers to the process of learning new tricks as "trick progression". That is to say, you learn the easiest tricks first and once mastered you progress towards new tricks and even variations on more simple tricks. While I understand that I have a variety of recipes and options thanks to the internet, I wanted to know if there was something like this in the culinary world? 

 

Currently, I am just picking things out that are my favorites and trying to recreate them. I am enjoying this but I do not know if I would be better served learning in a particular order? 

 

Nice to meet you all and thanks in advance for your thoughts/comments,

 

Brett

post #2 of 6

Off the top of my head, something like this.

 

Food safety should guide what you do but isn't really cooking . 

 

Knife skills is the basis of it all imho. Including sharpening. Mirepoix 

 

Stocks

 

 Play with some simple sauces

 

Pasta and soup is a good place to start combining these ideas.

 

Salad and vinaigrette

 

egg practice and practice pan tossing with dry beans 

 

Simple vegetable sides

 

Simple sautés of cutlets/steaks with a pan sauce

 

Stirfry

 

Quickbreads

 

Make bread and pizza

 

Cakes/pastry

 

There is no particular special equipment needed so far. You can branch out from here.

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 #3 of 6

     Technique progression might be how I would phrase it in regard to cooking and I think the concept is true in all professions. You start out understanding the basics and continue from there.  

Phatch has a good outline for what to learn. I'd agree that knife skills are of paramount importance and the place to start as you will be using them no matter what you cook.  

      Cooking is both scientific and subjective at the same time, which makes it easy for anyone to put a dinner on the table they will enjoy while also providing endless interest for those who seek to further their knowledge and understanding. I'll suggest reading "Ratios" by Michael Ruhlman for an overview of cooking. The Joy of Cooking should cover just about anything else you would want to know in general, is widely available and pretty cheap. Of course, practice will serve you best so if you are really interested be prepared to spend a good amount of time in the kitchen. 

     You are right to question whether or not making your favorites is best serving your learning process. Being able to make dinner with what is on hand is a better habit to develop as you won't have to run to the store every time you want to eat. 

      The one guideline you should adopt right away and stick to is that quality is of the utmost importance and will make the most profound difference in your cooking. Which is to say that stock made from scratch is better than store bought, produce in season fresh from the garden or local farm is better than produce trucked in from somewhere else out of season. So as you practice cooking be careful to keep convenience products to a minimum. 

     When it comes to techniques, pay attention to small details in the recipes you use. If the recipe says "Let it rest for ten minutes" or "fold, not stir" or "chill in the refrigerator for four hours", those are important to the overall outcome. Like wise if the recipe calls for four eggs, use four eggs. Follow the recipes closely the first time so you can see what the intended outcome is. 

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

All quality suggestions. Thanks for taking the time to respond. 

post #5 of 6
Since I got out of the corporate bar and grill game and into more upscale kitchens I've learned knife skills is the base of becoming a good cook. I've also realized your skills will only go so far if your knifes are sharpened. Me personally I practiced flipping pans with rice, but beans are great as well. I definitely agree to cooking with what you have. You will get a better feel for flavor and texture. I'm open to answer any questions you have.
post #6 of 6

Since you specifically mention interest in the science aspect of cooking, you could look up Kenji Lopez-Alt book, The Food Lab.

 

https://www.amazon.com/Food-Lab-Cooking-Through-Science/dp/0393081087/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466003111&sr=8-1&keywords=kenji+lopez+alt

 

It includes recipes, but also explains why some things are better than others, and he explains how he went about testing different methods.

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