Cooking is something that can be enjoyed if you know what you’re doing. To some, cooking can be a breeze, and even therapeutic. To others it can simply be a pain, a hassle that cannot be understood. In truth, cooking does not have to be intimidating. Even though you see big, fancy meals, it doesn’t have to mean it was complicated to create.
You might think that in order to become a great cook you’ll need to go to culinary school. That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of ways for you to learn how to cook in the privacy of your own home. With basic steps, you’ll be on your way to hosting a dinner party, with delicious food that you’ve created all on your own.
Methods of Cooking:
The first step would be to learn the different methods of cooking there is. There are different ways to prepare your food, depending on the particular texture and taste that you want, and also depending on your eating habits and lifestyle.
Boiling – Boiling simply means you’re bringing your food, or liquid to a certain temperature in order for it to start bubbling. Many dishes are prepared this way, but keep in mind to only boil what you’re cooking according to the amount time it takes your food to get to the consistency you want. Don’t over boil. You can dry out your food or even “disintegrate” it before it’s finished.
Stewing – A form of slow boiling. This is what you’re doing if you’re creating a type of stew dish or soup.
Braising – This is similar to stewing. The only difference is when you’re cooking something such as chicken of beef, it isn’t completely covered in the liquid. Only partially covered.
Simmering – Is when you’re cooking food in a hot liquid and kept just below the boiling point. When you’re making a stew or preparing a dish by braising, you let it simmer for a while to allow all of the flavors in your dish to mix well.
Blanching – This is when you’re food, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, are plunged into boiling water for only a minute or two. With vegetables, for example, blanching is done to get rid of that raw taste but still allow a crunch to maintain when you’re eating. Once you take the vegetables out of the boiling water, you immediately plunge them directly into cold water to stop the cooking process. Before eating, you can submerge them back in warm water to heat them up before eating if you wish.
Baking – When you’re food is put inside the oven and cooked with dry heat on a certain temperature.
Roasting – Similar to baking, except that roasting can mean you’re food is cooked uncovered over an open flame as well as in the oven. When you’re roasting, you’re allowing your food to caramelize (the browning of sugars and starches within your food) to create a strong nutty taste. As opposed to baking, roasting enhances the flavor considerably.
Frying – This is when your food is cooked in oil or a type of fat (which are similar, just with different melting points) on top of the stove, usually in a frying pan.
Sauteing – As opposed to frying, sauteing is when you’re cooking foods in a small amount of oil or fat, and is usually only for small foods that are chopped or minced, such as onions or garlic, for a short amount of time.
Searing – This is not actually cooking. Searing is only meant for browning the surfaces of meat to get a nice color, before a complete cooking process such as baking, stewing, or braising is done.
Once you begin to understand the different methods of cooking, you can begin by starting with something easy. There are a variety of foods that are easy to start out with, like eggs for example. If you’re unsure of what to do, do a little research on beginner recipes. You can even begin on things you would normally eat for breakfast. I personally think that for a beginner, choosing a breakfast dish to start out with would be easier than choosing a dinner dish.
When you’re ready, you can progress to doing bigger, more complicated dishes such as steak dinners, and even gourmet dinners if you’re feeling confident enough. It won’t take long for you to realize that cooking isn’t rocket science. It’s so simple and fun! With a little organizing it doesn’t have to be exhausting either.
Naturally, if you would like to get someone to help you that’s perfectly fine. Another thing you can do is watch cooking shows, such as Barefoot Contessa, The Pioneer Woman, Italian at Home, Giada at Home, Kelsey’s Essentials, Cooking for Real, Downhome with the Neeleys’ and any show with Bobby Flay. I’ve been cooking since I was a child, so it comes naturally to me, and is very easy, but I still love watching these shows for inspiration on new and exciting recipes. These shows are fun to watch also. You can’t go wrong here.
If you’re not the television type, or don’t have access to these shows, you can get ideas from cookbooks, and even find recipes from these shows online. The list of recipes are endless, and yes there are plenty of healthy recipes and recipes for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free fanatics. Simply go to the Food Network website, or The Cooking Channel website.
The most important part with cooking. In order to perfect any recipe, you have to practice. Sometimes recipes won’t come out quite right. That’s okay. It’s happens to the best of us, especially if it’s a new recipe that you’ve never tried before. Don’t be discouraged if there’s something you’re trying to mimic, and it doesn’t look the same. If it tastes the way it’s supposed to, be proud of that because it means you did something right. Your stomach won’t care what the food looks like, after all. If it doesn’t taste right, just keep at it. Natural mistakes are likely to happen when you’re just starting out.
When you’re cooking a regular dish, once you get the hang of it, don’t be afraid to get creative and add ingredients to change up a recipe if you like. Once you really get good, you can do what is called, “eyeballing,” meaning you don’t always have to rely on measuring equipment to add ingredients to your recipes because you can easily tell how much of what goes into it.
Baking, on the other hand is a different story. You can eyeball recipes when you’re cooking regular dishes but with baking desserts, the recipe has to be exact! So make sure to measure every ingredient that goes into baking a dessert. Cakes, brownies etc. are not forgiving. So take your time and be careful.