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Old 09-11-2006, 09:09 PM   #21
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VeraBlue, Apicius was a cook in Imperial Rome, and he wrote a cookbook for professionals, hard to follow today, but full of intriguing info on this ancient culture. The spread of the Empire thus spread the cuisine throughout Europe, becoming the foundation of European culinary arts. Cookbooks have been around for quite awhile.

However, I agree that it is not necessary to read to be able to cook well with local ingredients so long as one "apprenticed " under someone else who knows all the methods or has had a long trial and error career behind them!
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Old 09-12-2006, 09:17 AM   #22
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I think that timing is a basic skill, especially if you are preparing a whole meal. You must think of starting to cook that which takes the longest. If you are making london broil, and it takes 40 minutes to cook, you should think of what else you need to to make and begin prepping and cooking so that all the food is ready at the same time. It is amazing to me that some do not grasp this concept!
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Old 09-28-2006, 01:14 PM   #23
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a critical skill to have on board is the finely honed ability to use salt properly.
In culinary school somepeople undersalted (myself) and some classmates used so much salt the food was inedible to me. Salting is an art: just enought to bring out the flavor of the food but not so much all you taste is salt. I have come a long way in the past two years with respect to salt. I have even become picky about when to use what kind of salt. For finishing a dish I add a sprinkling of celtic grey sea salt that I have mashed with a mortar and pestle.
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Old 09-28-2006, 02:02 PM   #24
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As Emeril Lagasse says, "Use your knobs!" Get familiar with your stove and understand that everything doesn't get cooked on HIGH. Conversely, everything doesn't get cooked on LOW.

Some of the best advice came from Julia Child in the 6 most common mistakes she said home cooks make:

1. Not reading the recipe carefully.
2. Not getting out all the ingredients BEFORE starting.
3. Fear of failure.
4. Not really following directions, for example, properly measuring flour.
5. Taking cooking too seriously, not having fun doing it.
6. Not reading the recipe – all the steps – and visualizing the process before getting started.


Being in a hurry. Take your time to do it right. (My idea.)

And, I also endorse learning knife skills. I much prefer chopping an onion by hand than having it "mushed" in a food processor.
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Old 09-28-2006, 02:29 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katie E
Some of the best advice came from Julia Child in the 6 most common mistakes she said home cooks make:

1. Not reading the recipe carefully.
2. Not getting out all the ingredients BEFORE starting.
3. Fear of failure.
4. Not really following directions, for example, properly measuring flour.
5. Taking cooking too seriously, not having fun doing it.
6. Not reading the recipe all the steps and visualizing the process before getting started.
I like to get all my ingredients out, measure them, and assemble them in order of use in the recipe. If I have abunch of dry ingredients that all go in at once (like for chili) I like to put them all in one container to make it easier.
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Old 09-28-2006, 04:01 PM   #26
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As a professional, I have to say that most, if not all, of the important points have been made.

#1 Learn how to use and maintain your knives. I started out with hand-me-down knives, and used those for awhile, until I bought a decent, albiet cheap, set which I still use. Properly maintained, they work great.

#2 Learn how to use your equipment, and how different pieces of equipment work together. Learn how you range elements heat up, and how different pots and pans work on those elements. Learn how your oven works. Does it burn hotter or colder than the dial indicates? Is it a conventional oven, or convection? Does it have hot spots? How do counter-top appliances work? Are they "quirky", or simple to operate? What can you do with them? Do you really need some of them? All of this will take experience. And, if you move, you will have to relearn some of this, particularly anything to do with the stove/oven.

#3 Mise en Place. This is a French term, which means "everything in it's place. This is usually meant that all the prep is done, but is also extended to making sure that you have the pots and pans needed, tools and utensils within easy reach, etc. For a home cook, basically it means that you've prepped all the ingredients, and you have all the equipment you need to make a meal ready to go. This catagory will fall under the "organization" heading already mentioned.

#4 Learn what goes good with what. Again, this is experience. I've found that there are basic seasonings and flavors that I like to have with certain foods, namely chicken, which I always season with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, paprika, and sage. It makes many of my chicken dishes taste the same. Now, if I'm doing something from another cuisine, I'd use the seasonings that go with that cuisine and that food item.
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Old 09-28-2006, 07:07 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllenMI
#4 Learn what goes good with what. Again, this is experience. I've found that there are basic seasonings and flavors that I like to have with certain foods, namely chicken, which I always season with salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, paprika, and sage. It makes many of my chicken dishes taste the same. Now, if I'm doing something from another cuisine, I'd use the seasonings that go with that cuisine and that food item.
A great way to learn about which ingredients go together is to make various ethnic foods; they all have very classic ingredient pairings that you'll repeated time and again in many dishes, and you'll also see themes revolving around single ingredients recurring quite often as well, like garlic or tomatos in Italian cooking, or curry and yogurt in Indian cuisine, soy in countless number of asian dishes, etc.
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Old 09-29-2006, 09:36 AM   #28
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you'll never get anywhere without a discriminating palate.

it's the #1 skill necessary in a kitchen.

take the time and the (cough,cough) money to develop it
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