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Old 01-19-2009, 07:22 PM   #31
Senior Cook
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 337
Originally Posted by Elo View Post
I've been wanting a new challenge. I love cooking at home but have no basic training so I can cook a few things very well but have huge gaps in the basic foundations of the skill. So, I thought a 6 month to a year evening cookery course to a qualification would be just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately after a lot of hunting around there seems to be nothing in my area, at least for the next six months or so. So instead I've decided to teach myself, with a little help from the internet and my small collection of cookery books. The problem is, it's tricky for me to find holes in my own knowledge as I'd guess the things I need to learn are things that I wouldn't be familiar with. So I'm hoping more experienced heads may be able to identify what I'm missing.

The basic back-of-a-beer-mat list of skills and produce I've came up with so far is below. These are mostly things that I've either never done, or aren't confident of and/or would love to do well. There are a few things, like roasting, veg prep, I've purposefully missed off as I'm quite used to them but any and all suggestions are appreciated!!

Cooking areas

  • Making breads
  • Cooking with pastry
  • Making pizza dough
  • Dessert breads

  • Roux
  • Bechamel
  • Mayonnaise
  • Tomato pasta sauce

  • Making fresh pasta
  • Ravioli
  • Tagliatelli
  • Tortellini

  • Risotto
  • Fried rice

  • Langoustine
  • Scallops
  • Crab
  • Monkfish

Meats, poultry
  • Game
    . Wood pigeon
    . Guinea fowl
    . Pheasant
  • Rack of lamb
  • Venison

  • Omelette/Frittatas
  • Poached

  • Souffle



  • French onion

  • Beer batters
  • Tempura

Deep frying

Thanks in advance and God bless anyone who actually managed to read the whole thing.
Hi Elo,

This is likely to be a long post!

I live in the UK also and the first thing that I would recommend - sorry folks - is that you sign up to the BBC Food Messageboard. I`m a member there and often debate and give recipes for all the areas that you mention.

You state that " you love cooking but have no basic training". Now, this is not the same as "can`t cook, won`t cook"! It would help to know what YOU have cooked in the past. For example, if you have ever melted fat, added flour and cooked it for a couple of minutes and then and liquid and turned it into a suace then you have made a ROUX. A roux is simply melted fat, preferable butter to which one adds flour. Now - the liquid you add determines the sauce. Plain milk and it is a white sauce. Add milk in which you have infused onion, bayleaf, a blade of mace, a few peppercorns, a couple of cloves and then strained before adding to the roux and you have made a bechamel. From this simple sauce you can make a mulittude of different dishes.

Add chicken stock or fish stock and you make a chicken VELOUTÉ or fish VELOUTÉ which again enable you to create many classic dishes.

Put the butter, flour and milk in the pan, heat and whisk continuously and you make an "ALL-IN-ONE-SAUCE". Whisk in some mustard and a grating of fresh nutmeg, remove from the heat and add grated cheese and you have the basis for a great Macaroni Cheese. proprotions depend upon how many portions you wish to create.

Re. breads - we have a resident Guru, known as Paulthebread who teaches breadmaking and has several threads currently running. In addition, posters with breadmakers frequently post questions, advice and recipies.

Mayonnaise - one of the easiest sauces to make if all ingredients are at room temperature or, preferably especially the oil, slightly higher and you have an electric hand whisk. Trust me, I can post a recipe which works every time.

Tomato past sauces - may members, like those on DC, are Italian and have posted recipies which work and are well regarded by the community or used successfully, commercially.

Skipping to Risotto:
Lots of threads on this discussing; type of rice to use (Arborio, Canaroli or Vialone Nano); pan to use; proportion of rice to liquid; method; deconstructing a risotto to the 4 classic ingredient groups like the soffrito, liquid, rice and condimentori (flavour), etc.,to enable you to create any risotto, are discussed and debated.

Indian, Chinese or Japanese dishes - we have many experts who post recipes, plus blogs, plus photos, plus videos to show you how to make tempura, pot stickers, dim sum, etc. One web site which I would suggest you look at is: www.mamtaskitchen It is a great site and used by many. I know that many professonals use her recipes in their business so well worth checking out.

Stocks - the secret is not to salt whilst making. Reduce to concentrate to the flavour intensity you require and season last!

I could go on. However, suffice to say it would be interesting to know what you have cooked so that we can deconstruct the recipes to see what skills you have.

Hope this helps,

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