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Old 01-07-2009, 12:52 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the feedback everyone, it's all much appreciated. The cookbook/TV approach is pretty much what I've been doing for years but (and I don't know whether it's just me getting old and boring) I think I'd be better served being more methodical about it all. It may just be me but I know if I go into it without a plan I'll come out of it with a couple of new dishes but still with holes in my knowledge. Plus if I'm lucky enough to manage to get into a cooking class later in the year I may be able to skip the entry level courses and go onto something a little more meaty!

jennyema that's a fantastic idea. It's stupid of me, but I never thought about checking for coursebooks. It looks top notch, and I've managed to find its British counterpart too. Now I just have to buy my knives and I can crack on! :D
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:45 PM   #12
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TV and cooking shows?

I don't know what you get in the UK, In the U.S. I watch Alton Brown and Good Eats. I too am one of those people who want to know the why behind something, once the why is known it can be made to apply to all sorts of things. Good Eats is almost like a science show, plenty of why to enplane the what.

Failures? I have plenty of them. Last night I made a vanilla cream pie filling for a banana meringue pie. I increased the recipe by 50%, I don't know what I got wrong but now I have a really tasty pudding. I still feel bad about wasting 5 egg yolks ... thats right, it wasn't a waste, I got pudding ... but now I have 5 egg whites ... breakfast?

Only time cooking is a complete failure is if you cook poison, then eat it.
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Old 01-07-2009, 02:43 PM   #13
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Other than a class or professional leaning over your shoulder, trial and error is the best way ( at least for me anyway). Between the cook books, cooking shows, and internet , there are so many sources of knowledge and how to. Even you tube, just type in a recipe and I guarantee you will find someone somewhere who has recorded themselves making ( or trying to make) what you want to learn. Sure, knowing your source of knowledge is key, but as mentioned earlier, this forum is a great place for questions and guidance.
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wart View Post
TV and cooking shows?

I don't know what you get in the UK, In the U.S. I watch Alton Brown and Good Eats.
Good Eats t great. I have learned a lot from there also. The episodes are availale on DVD now, not sure if you can get them in the correct format or not, but might be worth a look.

The only UK cookings shows I've seen were the Two Fat Ladies series and the Jamie Oliver shows. All great shows if you can catch them. TFL series is also on DVD (and I'll admit I own it)
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:17 PM   #15
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You know there are some truly wonderful cooking teaching videos out there by such illuminaries as: Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, and even Jeff Smith.

These videos come in a series/set which cover many areas of cooking and baking. They are great to learn techniques, and if you didn't get it the first time, run the video til you do.
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Old 01-08-2009, 07:17 AM   #16
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Hi Elo! I read your post from beginning to end :-) Great list of the things you wanted to make and learn. Maybe all you need to do now is to just practice at home use any reference that you have. That's what I did when I'm just beggining to learn how to cook. I still don't know much but one thing I found out, that sometimes the best cooking instructor is yourself.:-) Follow your instict..that's when I do when I'm trying to experiment on my kitchen.
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Old 01-09-2009, 02:39 PM   #17
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I'm in the same boat as you, went looking for courses and not much (if any) existed in my area and price range. I decided that at least once a week I'm going to make a "fancy" meal for my wife and I that brings in a new skill or forces me to improve on old skills I'm not comfortable with. This really got the ideas and techniques flowing. I am still not a well rounded cook, but I definately know a bit more than when I started.

Someone mentioned above that Good Eats is a good show to watch on Food Network, I actually received Alton Brown's (host of the show) cookbook titled "I'm just here for the food", it is really good! It isn't really about recipes but techniques, the main focus of the book is about heat application, whether it be grilling, roasting, sauteing, frying etc. I would highly recommend it. I liked it so much I bought my wife his other book "I'm just here for more food" which goes into the techniques for baking. Again these aren't books you pluck recipes out of but rather books you need to read (and will enjoy doing so) and will help you understand the different applications, how to use them, and with what.

I'd like to propose adding braising and roasting (maybe they were listed and I missed them?), both of these techniques takes some practice but can produce some really tasty and delicate meals if done correctly.
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Old 01-09-2009, 03:05 PM   #18
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Cooking Advice

Cooking is definitely a hands on, trial and error thing. With all of my success there have been failure........HUGE failures. Just this past Christmas, while trying to perfect my very own, not found in any cookbook, cookie recipe I flopped, not once, not twice but FOUR TIMES before I got it!

The best advice I can give is that you *have to* know how things taste. Not just the food items, but all the spices and herbs, all the ingredients individually. I very, very rarely follow a recipe exactly....something is always altered. It makes it your own....but you can't do that unless you know what your adding tastes like and whether or not it is going to compliment it.

I learned that by working as a server in a fine dining restaurant in my younger days. The chef would let me taste something and I would have to identify the herbs/spices in it. If I got 90%, he would make me whatever I wanted off the menu for dinner. So it was definitely a win win for me .
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Old 01-09-2009, 04:23 PM   #19
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Julia Child - The Way to Cook Complete Box Set - eBay (item 300264868068 end time Feb-04-09 19:09:45 PST)
JULIA CHILD - THE WAY TO COOK COOK BOOK 1989-511 PAGES - eBay (item 170292887690 end time Jan-11-09 09:23:13 PST)

The book is designed to go along with the videos. They are absolutely fantastic! Step by step you watch the video, and go along with the book.

I have them and I know! Julia was the Best TV cooking teacher of them all.
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Old 01-10-2009, 01:24 AM   #20
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As you are based in the UK, I'm surprised that you haven't mentioned the Pommy doyenne of the kitchen - Delia Smith. her How To Cook series is both in book and DVD format - and there is even a TV show, and has won all sorts of awards for both her abilities and her methods, and I would definitely recommend you track them down as an addition to your cook book library.

On the other side of the Atlantic, there is Julia Childs - basically the Yankee equivalent of Delia, and also exceptionally good at what she does. If you can track down a UK-region coding on some of julia's programs, they are definitely worth a look.

Unless you vocabulary is already studded with disastrous sayings like "pukker" and "get that inter yer", don't bother with Jamie Oliver. I've never grasped how someone as obviously unskilled as he is can have any hope at teaching anyone else the basics of kitchen craft. A quick read through most of his books will not teach you much more than how to pour olive oil over almost everything, and an everything that has been constructed of "deconstructed" ingredients that actually require very little of the skills that you are trying to acquire.
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