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Author Topic: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees  (Read 9722 times)

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TychaBrahe

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Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« on: June 21, 2008, 12:26:15 PM »
No, I don't want my own DQ neighbor.  What I want is to be an accomplished chef.  I don't have to cook every day, but I'd like to be able to invite people over for something a little nicer than a spaghetti dinner. 

Caveat the first:  I live alone, so mostly I would be practicing for myself.

Caveat the second:  Currently, my most used cookbook is The Four Ingrediants Cookbook.  I can roast a turkey and make a six course Thanksgiving dinner, but usually it's more like noodles + tuna + cheese + Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup = tuna noodle casserole.

So, all you experienced maestros and maestras of the kitchen, where does someone like me start?

Update: As two people have pointed out, I did mean MarinaDCA.  DaeOne, I admire you strength and your character, but right now, honestly, I don't think I'd want to be you.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2008, 02:29:12 PM by TychaBrahe »
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Veronica

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Re: Advice to DaeOne wannabees
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2008, 12:54:21 PM »
Do you mean MarinaDCA wannabee?

No offense at all to Daeone but I don't recall her ever posting about her cooking, or her neighbor.  She's pretty much wrapped up with her family nightmare right now. 

Florida

lovinAZ

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Re: Advice to DaeOne wannabees
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2008, 12:57:16 PM »

We have been eating almost every night with the guidance of "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman.  He explains everything.  It's fabulous.  He first put out a "How to Cook Everything" book, and even if it's only half as good as the vegetarian one, it will be wonderful.  I highly, highly, highly recommend.


literacygirl

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Re: Advice to DaeOne wannabees
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2008, 01:01:22 PM »
It sounds like you've got a great start! From my perspective I think about what cooking processes I'm comfortable with, rather than what recipes I know.

If you can roast a turkey, try a chicken (leftovers are good for chicken salad for lunches, or use the extra for soup) and gravy. Try roasting veggies as a side dish or roasting a pork loin and making a sauce from stock and or wine and herbs. If you can make spaghetti that means you can saute which opens the world to soups, stews, and other slow cooked dishes.

I love Americas Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated for recipes. They do all the work by testing recipes over and over and are very clear in how to make a recipe work.

Happy cooking :-D

nutraxfornerves

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Re: Advice to DaeOne wannabees
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2008, 01:21:57 PM »
One place to start is your local library. You'd be amazed at how many cookbooks a library has. You can try them out before you buy one. You'll be tempted to check out the really fancy ones with the most wonderful illustrations, but those can  be rather intimidating.

Some to try:
Joy of Cooking (look for the older edition from the 1970s; the "revised" one is awful. Read the chapters on ingredients and methods to get a good feel for cooking theory)
The Way to Cook by Julia Child. (once you've gotten familiar with that one, try Mastering the Art of French Cooking.)
How to Cook Without a Book I consider myself an advanced cook, but I learned a lot from this. It will show you, for instance, how to sauté chicken breasts and then make a sauce with infinite variations.
America's Test Kitchen cookbooks (I use mine a lot, but I did try the library one first, because it's big & expensive.) See if your library carries back issues of Cook's Illustrated magazine.
The Professional Chef[ It's really a textbook. This is really solid in terms of giving you a idea of cooking theory and how to master a lot of basic recipes-everyday and classic, as well as modern. The downside is that it is meant for a professional kitchen so everything serves 10 people or assumes you have a restaurant stove. This is one that I would definitely do from the library first. If your library doesn't have it, they can get it on interlibrary loan.

The Epicurious web site is pretty "foodie" but has some interesting recipes.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2008, 01:24:39 PM by nutraxfornerves »

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Veronica

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Re: Advice to DaeOne wannabees
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2008, 01:24:29 PM »
I took cooking classes and it helped alot.  Look online to see if there are any schools near you.

Florida

Arista

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Re: Advice to DaeOne wannabees
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2008, 01:38:10 PM »

I love Americas Test Kitchen/Cooks Illustrated for recipes. They do all the work by testing recipes over and over and are very clear in how to make a recipe work.


POD to this!  My sister got me the America's Test Kitchen Family Style Cookbook for Christmas back in 2005, and not a week has gone by where I haven't used it (usually 3-5 times a week!).  Most of the recipes serve 4, so it will make a fair bit of leftovers for a single person, or you can halve most recipes.

Poppea

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2008, 03:55:17 PM »
The Silver Palate Cookbook.  Simple delicious recipes, that never fail to draw compliments.  Menu suggestions, music suggestions and decorating ideas are included.

Alida

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2008, 04:15:15 PM »
Experiment!  And invest in some good basic cookbooks.  I adore the Silver Palate, my copy has seen many many years of use and shows it.  I also swear by a copy of an Italian cookbook my grandmother gave my mother when she married Dad.  It's dated 1945, translated from Italian, and is what I learned to cook out of when I was 12. 

And remember, the dog loves mistakes ;)

ETA: Get a Taste of Home subscription.  They tend to be very simple recipes, but they help you to build up your skills in the kitchen.

lovinAZ

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2008, 04:46:21 PM »
ETA: Get a Taste of Home subscription.  They tend to be very simple recipes, but they help you to build up your skills in the kitchen.

We had a subscription to Cooking For Two (same parent company) and prepared many tasty meals from those pages.

Alida

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2008, 04:52:28 PM »
I just recently stopped my subscriptions to:

Taste of Home
Cooking for Two
Light and Tasty
Cooking Light
Bon Apetit
Food & Wine

OP, any of the first 4 are going to have great recipes that are easy to follow.  The second two can have recipes that are a little more advanced, but they're great!

Anyone want to buy a decade's worth of cooking magazines? They've overtaken my home!

Aggiesque

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2008, 07:08:43 PM »
This is a bit of a different take but... I grew up never using recipes (excepting desserts), and that's still how I cook to this day. Yes, I have a billion recipes in my head... :/ not sure when it happened, but that's how it is now. I have a HORRIBLE time following written recipes.

As far as stuff I see I want to try making, I find out the ingredients and go by taste. It's not hard- once you have lots of practice, and that's the hardest trick to cooking.

I've had many friends who wanted to cook come over every Fri. night (or I'd go to their house, if I knew they had the right instruments) for a semester or whatever, and I teach them how to make whatever they want- how to cook meats, how to make specific sides, desserts, breakfast stuff, etc, how to tell to what degree of doneness things are, etc. I really enjoy teaching people. So, if you have any friends you know that enjoy cooking, you may want to set up some sort of cooking night with them. For dinners, I was taught a meat dish + starch + two veggies, unless it's a hotdish, then other rules come into play... things like that. I have lots of odd food rules in my head lol.
Aggie

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purplemuse

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2008, 08:02:53 PM »
I'm not a great chef by any means, but I found the TV show Good Eats to be a big help with my cooking, especially when cooking things I'd never even done anything close to before (like cooking my first turkey).

I like how he explains the how and why of everything-- I find if I know why I'm folding the egg whites in, instead of just that I need to use a spatula rather than a mixer, I'm able to cook better because I know exactly what's happening with the recipe.

littleblue

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2008, 08:17:52 PM »
Seconding your local library as a place to go for cookbooks - that way you can get out a whole stack and compare ideas and styles. 

I also have found ingredient guides as useful as cookbooks - there is an Oxford guide to herbs and spices, and also a great book called the French Cafe Cook Book, which while it has some recipes also has more ingredients and style tips (and really pretty pictures!)  If you're a cheese fan, I recommend The Cheese Lover's Kitchen Handbook, written by Juliett Halbuit (sp?) which has guides to pretty much all European and British cheeses, plus really great recipes.  For vegan/vegetarian recipes, I often turn to The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld.  Also a scouting visit to your local fresh market and wholesalers is useful -there are heaps of really interesting foods out there that are really easy to prepare (my latest find is Asian White Turnip :D

Elle

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Re: Advice to MarinaDCA wannabees
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2008, 08:44:27 PM »
I'm not a great chef by any means, but I found the TV show Good Eats to be a big help with my cooking, especially when cooking things I'd never even done anything close to before (like cooking my first turkey).

I like how he explains the how and why of everything-- I find if I know why I'm folding the egg whites in, instead of just that I need to use a spatula rather than a mixer, I'm able to cook better because I know exactly what's happening with the recipe.

POD

Alton Brown has three books.
I'm just here for the food - how to cook darn near everything
I'm just here for more food - about baking
Essential Kitchen Gear - the proper tools for your kitchen

His big thing is expalining the why's and hows of cooking. If you have cable, it's well worth catching the show. If you don't you might be able to find clips on foodtv.com youtube or Netflix.

It's a lot more than just recipes and techniques. He explains things so that you can easily make substitutions or 'fix' mistakes. He also covers common pitfalls and myths. And he's darn entertaining (kinda cute too!  :-* )