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Old 09-15-2007, 01:27 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by k_young221 View Post
Hi there. I'm on a mission to improve my abysmal cooking skills and had a question for you all. I'd like to learn the basics, not just in a sense of techniques, but also in terms of improvisation. I can follow a recipe okay, but I'd like to learn to cook the way one learns to dress with style. You don't buy a book with pictures of outfits to wear, you just learn the principles of style, right? So I want to learn what flavors go together, stuff like that. I've paged through "The Improvisational Cook" which looked neat, except about 70% of the book is recipes, many of which are a little too "gourmet" for me and my family.

Can anyone recommend any books I should look into?

Thanks,
~K
Pam Anderson's "How to Cook Without a Book" sounds like exactly what you are looking for. and NO! it's not the busty Pam Anderson!
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Old 09-15-2007, 12:46 PM   #32
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The recipe was for a skirt steak. I followed the directions but the steak was VERY rare. I wanted to get it to maybe a medium or medium rare, but it took a lot longer than the recipe stated. And then the steak was tough and stringy. A question: If less-expensive cuts should be cooked slower than more expensive, then why should my $4 steak cooked on high heat? (Sorry, I'm sure it's obvious, but I know right around nothing about steak. I don't even like steak.

I looked up that recipe in his book last night and it's spot on. He also explains why it's cooked that way and also explains why you need to cut it on the bias.

His book focus on technique (in this case, searing) and uses recipes as examples for the techniques he explains. That's why its a very good book for a beginner cook. It's important to read the prose and not just make the recipe.

In your case, I suspect that your pan wasn't hot enough. Also, like others have said, cutting it properly is absolutely key.

The only thing I would take issue with is that IMO skirt steak and flank steak are great cuts to marinate before cooking. If you make that recipe again, try marinating the meat for 8 hours or so in a teriyake or fajita marinade or something. Dry it well before you sear it, though.

Steaks of all types should be cooked via high heat.
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Old 09-15-2007, 12:50 PM   #33
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The only thing I would take issue with is that IMO skirt steak and flank steak are great cuts to marinate before cooking. If you make that recipe again, try marinating the meat for 8 hours or so in a teriyake or fajita marinade or something. Dry it well before you sear it, though.
I second this. Alton has great advice and knowledge, but like anyone he is human and sometimes makes mistakes. Not marinading the skirt steak is a mistake IMO. Not a horrible one, but a mistake nonetheless.
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Old 09-15-2007, 06:30 PM   #34
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I agree with ChefJune. "How to cook without a book" is what you are looking for.
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Old 09-16-2007, 07:08 AM   #35
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k Yes you got some great book suggestions! I will share a joke about a boy who didn't know how to swim. His friend gave him a book on how to swim. A week later his buddy said come on lets go swimming. He said no thanks I read the book. The point being it takes trying failing and trying again. Learn the terms, know your pots stove etc. get the best ingredients. Start simple and be patient with yourself remember mistakes and don't repeat them. You would be surprised just playing with green beans or an egg what can go wrong and how many wonderful ways they can be prepared.
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