Cook like a Professional
Yes, you can cook like a professional chef! Have you ever wanted to host your own diner party? Do you watch cooking shows, wishing you could do that? Well you can and you will, if you really want to that is. You may not be able to charge an arm and a leg for your creations, but with a little bit of direction and practice, you’ll be stirring up some home cooked meals that others will be raving about.
Basic Kitchen Essentials....
Tools and Skills
First, start by accumulating some kitchen basics. You can’t build a house without the proper tools. Grab yourself a good knife set. Not a knife set, a GOOD knife set! Don’t get yourself a cheap set for the sake of price. Get a decent set that does not have serrated edges on every blade. The serrated blade has its place in the kitchen, but not for every application! Also, look for a curved blade. The flat blades serve a purpose but is more difficult to handle for someone just beginning to handle a knife in the kitchen. A recommended starter set is the Henckels or Wusthof sets. They have great balance and performance. You can also op for a more expensive set, but you don’t necessarily need these to start yourself out.
To accompany the knife set, a proper cutting board is essential. People have various preferences with regard to the materials that cutting boards are made of, however, not being in a commercial kitchen a nice hardwood board is best. Get two so that you can use one for meats and the other for vegetables. You do not want to cross contaminate your products.
A basic culinary skill is to know the difference between a dry measure and a wet measure. For dry ingredients, you use spoons, cups, or a food scale if you are baking. For liquid measurements, you use a measuring cup. This tip alone will save you on pain meds!
A food timer is a great investment. You can use your iPhone or Android OS phone for this. It has multiple uses and is not just for the kitchen.
When recipes call for a whisk, there is really no substitute. Don’t use a fork or anything else. Get yourself a decent one for the task at hand and you will not be disappointed. There’s nothing quite like freshly whipped cream, with a touch of vanilla and sugar, that was whisked by hand! That on freshly baked scones that you made, scrumptious!
A good rubber spatula can work wonders in the kitchen. Look for one that is heat-resistant for best results. You can use it in and out of a hot pan for example.
Next item is easy – get an apron. That is it. Stop wiping your hands on your pants or shirt!
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"The" Cookbook to start with....
Bye Bye Betty!
So now we move to actual techniques. There are so many that I am not going to get into them. Knowing what the various terms are in the kitchen will help significantly. For this we turn to the books.
You can’t just jump into a top fuel dragster and let it rip down the straight! Start by accumulating a base of cookbooks. You may think this to be easy due to the sheer number of cookbooks on the market. Yes and no. Many cookbooks give you what you need for recipe content, but they have very little in the way of direction, technique, and real culinary terminology. The recommended starting point for any would be chef is the Culinary Institute of America’s (CIA), “The Professional Chef”. People always look at you funny when you say you got the recipe or learned it from the CIA! It is a great icebreaker at parties and will start you on your way to home kitchen stardom! The CIA’s, “The Professional Chef” is probably the best source for learning from the ground up. It is the textbook for the actual institute in Hyde Park, NY and is highly recommended
Another source of culinary expertise is “Professional Cooking” by Wayne Gisslen. This also contains a wealth of knowledge and is used by countless culinary institutes and courses throughout the industry as their textbook. This would be a great addition to any kitchen and the pictures are great. The content provides a large amount of industry terms, definitions, and techniques.
Let's Get Cooking!
You can and you will
The only thing left is to dig in and practice. Don’t pick a recipe and use it for the first time at a dinner party. Use the recipe and get it down pat before you have company. Your family and friends will not mind if you practice for them! I have one tip for you before I end, if I may. Pay close attention to suggestions for serving and presentation. This will make a huge difference upon serving. Remember that people eat with their eyes first!
Now go and get cooking. Bon Appétit!