It is a necessity for us to eat.
Many eat to live and others live to eat. Either way, we can not get around our need for food.
So I live by a code which says if we already have to eat, why not eat the most delicious, delectable meals possible? Sound’s reasonable, right?
You do not have to settle for mediocrity when it comes to eating.
Tuna helper, Ramen Noodles and Chef Boyardee need not be the highlight of your day.
With a few basic ideas you can cook to impress yourself and others in no time.
Here are some ideas to stir up in the inner chef in you:
1. Get Rid of Fear – Huh? Why is this the number one tip? Well, because fear cripples our potential in every aspect of life. Many people don’t cook because they say they don’t know how to cook. Well, at one point you didn’t know how to walk, ride a bike, drive a car, etc. But how did you learn? Well, by doing it! Is there anything you are good at? Whatever it is, I bet you were not good at it immediately. It takes time to master something. So, in order to be a good cook, you are going to have to try and cook! Go after it with reckless abandon, throw all caution to the wind and go cook something!!
2. Get Some Tools – Obviously if you are going to cook you are going to need some basics tools. I am going to give you a few necessities for the average beginner on a beginner budget.
I am only recommending the minimum you should have. Obviously there are a lot more items you can and should buy but, for the moment, you can effectively cook with these items:
Pots and Pans (with lids) – Frying pan, Sauce Pan and Dutch Oven, Roasting/Baking Pan
Knives – Chef’s knife (don’t be intimidated!) and utility knife
Utensils – Whisk, Large Spoon and Fork, Tongs, Spatula, Vegetable Peeler, Cutting board, Mixing bowls, Colander
Pans – Baking Pan, Muffin pan, Baking Sheet pan
Utensils –Rolling Pin, Rubber Spatula, Measuring cups and spoons
3. Learn Some Basic Terminology – If you are going to cook and follow some recipes you will need to know what the recipe is calling you to do. Here are some basic terms you need to know. ( a more
PARBOIL: To simmer in liquid or fat until approximately 50 percent done.
SIMMER: To cook submerged in liquid just below a boil, at temperature upwards of 180°F ( 82°C ). A simmering liquid has bubbles floating slowly from the bottom, and the surface is fairly quiet.
BOIL: To cook in water or liquid under a boiling point or reaches the point when a boiling liquid is in turmoil; its surface is agitated and rolling.
REDUCE: To boil or simmer a liquid until it reaches a smaller volume through evaporation. A liquid so reduced has a greater concentration of flavor. If it contains starch it becomes thicker.
BRAISE: To cook with a small amount of liquid in a covered container in a low lemperature to produce a thick sauce. Examples are adobo, mechado, etc.
POACH: To cook submerged in liquid at temperatures of roughly 160° to 180º F (71º – 82º C). A liquid at these temperatures has bubbles on the bottom of the pan but is undisturbed.
SEAL OR SEAR: To expose the surface of meat to extreme heat in a hot pan or oven for the purpose of browning before cooking at a lower temperature; a partial-cooking process and by so doing enhance the flavor.
ROAST: To cook by heated air, usually in an enclosed space such as an oven or barbecue pit, but also on a revolving spit before an open fire. Roasting nearly always refers to meats.
POT ROAST: Applied to cooking larger cuts of meat by braising.
BROIL: To cook with heat from above like the broiler. Example is the ham.
COOK: To bring about change in a food product by applying heat over a period of time, usually to make the food more edible.
PEEL: To strip of the outer covering. Applied to oranges, grapefruit, etc.
CUBE: A cube-shaped cut ½ to 1 inch. To cube is to cut into cubes.
DICE: A cube-shaped cut but smaller than the cube at about ¼ inch.
FINE DICE: A cube-shaped cut 1/8 inch in size; brunoise.
CHOP: To divide into small pieces with a knife or other sharp tool.
MINCE: To cut into very fine pieces using a knife, food grinder, blender or food processor.
JULIENNE: To cut meat or vegetables into thin stick-shaped pieces (1/8 x 1/8 x 1½ -2 inches ).
WEDGE: A wedge-shaped cut of food, usually a section of a round or oval product such as an apple or lemon.
STRIPS: Cut into long, narrow pieces.
SHRED: To cut into very fine strips or pieces.
GRIND: To reduce to particles by cutting, crushing, or grinding.
GRATE: To shred food into small pieces with the use of a grater.
MASH: To crush, beat or squeeze food into a soft state by using a fork or a masher.
PUREE: To mash a cooked product to a fine pulp, usually by forcing it through a sieve or putting it into a blender.
SCORE: To make shallow or deep cuts in a decorative pattern with the point or a knife. Food such as a whole fish is often scored so that it will cook evenly.
SIFT: To shake through a fine sieve.
STRAIN: To separate liquids from solids by passing through a sieve or cheesecloth.
BREAD: To coat the surface of a food with flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs before cooking or frying.
COAT: To cover surfaces of an item with another substance.
DIP: To briefly plunge bite-size foods in a liquid mixture.
DREDGE: To sprinkle or coat lightly with flour, cornmeal, or ground almonds.
ROLL: To pass a product through a powdery substance; to dredge.
DUST: To sprinkle a fine substance such as sugar or flour gently on a surface.
DRIZZLE: To pour liquid into thin streams to have a thread like effect.
BARBECUE: To slow-roast over coals, or under free flame or oven electric unit, usually basting with seasoned sauce like barbecue sauce.
GRILL: To cook on a grate with heat from below. The term is also used loosely for cooking on a fry-top range.
SCALD: To bring just to boiling, usually for milk. Also to rinse with boiling water.
BLANCH: To plunge into a boiling liquid and cook 10 to 20 percent of doneness. This is done also to remove the outer covering or skins from nuts, fruits, and some vegetables.
4. Well, Cook Something already!!! Just like I stated earlier the only way you are going to learn is not by necessarily studying terminology but by jumping in and getting your feet wet! So, jump in already and don’t be scared. Start with some easy things: Grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, omelets, pasta, hot dogs, etc.