"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > General Cooking Information > Menu Planning > Today's Menu
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 11-11-2008, 09:05 PM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2
Should I develop a "specialty"

Hey guys I'm new to the forums here and am just starting to cook more often. My question is, should I start in one area and develop a specialty for a certain type of food [BBQ, Steaks, Pasta etc.] or should I just try and make whatever I feel like. What would you recommend I do? Thanks in advance for any advice.


Drk2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 09:20 PM   #2
Certified Pretend Chef
Andy M.'s Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 41,105
Welcome to DC.

I recommend you try lots of different things. Develop a large base of dishes from many cuisines you are familiar with. Try to understand how different cuisines create thier flavors.

If you are going to have a specialty, it's something that will come from your experience and the foods you like. It's not something you choose up front.

"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
Andy M. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 10:05 PM   #3
Chef Extraordinaire
pdswife's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Washington
Posts: 20,308
Send a message via AIM to pdswife Send a message via MSN to pdswife Send a message via Yahoo to pdswife
Hello and welcome.
iAndy is right... keep on trying lots of different things. The more you cook the more
you learn and the more you understand. Have fun!!
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on. Robert Frost
pdswife is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 10:07 PM   #4
Chef Extraordinaire
Katie H's Avatar
Site Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: I live in the Heartland of the United States - Western Kentucky
Posts: 15,088
Hi! Welcome to DC.

I agree, too. Build a good foundation with a variety of recipes. After a while, it will be apparent what you like/excel in. It takes time, so be patient and enjoy the process.
"As a girl I had zero interest in the stove." - Julia Child
This is real inspiration. Look what Julia became!
Katie H is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 10:10 PM   #5
Executive Chef
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Collier County, Fl.
Posts: 4,198
I agree. Diversify, along with your palette. Life would get pretty boring eating just one thing all the time. And in a pinch, you would know the ground rules to make something of anything.
quicksilver is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 10:38 PM   #6
Sous Chef
RobsanX's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 526
Originally Posted by quicksilver View Post
I agree. Diversify, along with your palette. Life would get pretty boring eating just one thing all the time. And in a pinch, you would know the ground rules to make something of anything.
I completely agree with having the ground rules of cooking down. Learning how different ingredients interact with one another is an essential step in moving from "I can follow a recipe pretty well..." to "I know how to COOK!"

You can easily mix it up though. Take butter and flour for instance. Put equal amounts in a pan, start heating them, and you have a roux. From there the possibilities are endless. Whisk in some chicken stock for a white sauce, fish stock for a fish sauce, milk for a bechamel, cook the roux longer for brown sauce, etc.

If you like fish then learn 3 or 4 different ways to make your fish. Even if you are using the same kind of fish, different cooking techniques will give you different flavors. You can reinforce the basics and keep your palette satisfied at the same time.
RobsanX is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 10:59 PM   #7
Head Chef
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Des Moines Iowa
Posts: 1,214
If you can eat in different ethnic restaurants each week and get a feel for what you like then start to cook. Using your library cook book collection and read the different styles of cooking get some ideas floating around then act on them
It may not be perfect but it will teach you every time you cook soon you will be swinging out all kinds of good food
Cook with passion or don't cook at all
Dave Hutchins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-2008, 11:32 PM   #8
Savory Tv's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 50
I agree that it's great to branch out. I think you will find your own special "signature" dishes as you go, the ones that people love and ask you to bring to parties etc. If you are just starting out, I would try to avoid frustration by sticking with simpler recipes, and then accept small challenges as you go!
Savory Tv is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2008, 01:09 AM   #9
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Canada
Posts: 2
Thanks for all the replies guys, is there a thread somewhere that has some basic recipes? And as far as hardware goes, what would should I invest the most money into [Knives, Pots, Cutting Boards etc.]
Drk2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-12-2008, 01:33 AM   #10
Senior Cook
Ekim's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Indianapolis, IN, USA
Posts: 118
I have a friend that keeps wanting to get fancier and fancier. But I keep telling her to keep things relatively simple at first and go from there. It's easier to add one additional flavour to a recipe and decide how it works than to toss in 20 ingredients and try to figure out which ones don't belong.

A few things I wish I'd learned a long time ago:
1 - Use Marinades. Very easy way to impart a lot of flavour.
2 - Bake or roast longer and slower on chicken and pork to get them more tender and juicy.
3 - as said a few posts up, making roux. I never made gravies or sauces from scratch until I started making sausage gravy.
4 - use as natural and fresh ingredients as you can get / afford. This has made a big difference in my diet and overall health. I use raw sugar, kosher salt, filtered water, honey, olive oil and real butter.

Keep a sense of humour and don't take it too seriously. Cooking is fun more than work.

As for buying hardware, try to do more with the little hardware you have instead of blowing a lot of money on things you might not really need.

I would say for essentials:
1 - cutting boards and mineral oil for treating them
2 - a decent set of knives and a good sharpener. I have the Furi Fingers sharpener and it works pretty well.
3 - a microwave veggie & rice cooker - wonderful for steaming veggies and rice. (I hate cooking rice on the stove, I almost always burn it)

There are a ton of things I would like to have for my kitchen. But by trying to work with what I have, it helps me figure out what I really need to buy next. I had to buy a new stove a few months back so I'm working on paying that off before buying anything else.

Ekim is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

» Discuss Cooking on Facebook

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2015 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:21 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.