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Old 01-06-2009, 04:22 PM   #1
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Teaching myself to cook...what am I missing?

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

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

Sauces
  • Roux
  • Bechamel
  • Mayonnaise
  • Tomato pasta sauce

Pasta
  • Making fresh pasta
  • Ravioli
  • Tagliatelli
  • Tortellini

Rice
  • Risotto
  • Fried rice

Seafood
  • Langoustine
  • Scallops
  • Crab
  • Monkfish

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

Eggs
  • Omelette/Frittatas
  • Poached

Desserts
  • Souffle

Appetisers

Salads

Stocks

Soups
  • French onion

Batters
  • Beer batters
  • Tempura

Skills

Steaming
Caramelising
Filleting
Boning
Deep frying
Presentation

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

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Old 01-06-2009, 04:27 PM   #2
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Honestly just grab a good basic cookbook, (I think BHG is great!) open, close your eyes and point!

Make what you land on... keep doing it.... each recipe will one at a time probably force you to learn something new.
A good basic cookbook will be full of techniques and illustrations for a beginner. If not, asking here always is a GREAT back up plan!
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Not that there's anything wrong with that.....
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:05 PM   #3
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I think this book is a great setting started refernece AND it is a great read also:

Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook by Jamie Oliver

I got it last year for Christmas and I love it!!!
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:08 PM   #4
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Well, I'm just a home-cook schmoe, but I'm with suzi on her approach.

I focus on the actual dishes I want to make, and if I need help with an ingredient, a technique, and/or equipment, I ask specific questions here.

Maybe one of the pros will chime in and give you an idea of what a cooking school curriculum might look like.

Good luck, Elo - we'll be here for you!

Lee
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Old 01-06-2009, 06:40 PM   #5
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I agree with suziquzie. Also watching cooking shows on tv helps too. Sometimes watching it being done helps when you read a recipe :o)
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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FUN! Dont take it so serious... just figure out the things you wish you knew how to make that you dont...or buy a new item and figure out how to cook it... in the process you will cover all the "topics" in your outline and it will feel more like an adventure than a lesson plan

Good luck
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:52 AM   #7
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The book "The Professional Chef" is the textbook used at the Culinary Institute of America.

It will teach you all of that and much more. It's very interesting.

Amazon.com: professional chef culinary institute of america
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:09 PM   #8
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Try anything. I will tell you what I tell my wife. “High is not the only setting on the stove.” Just take your time. Once you make something for the first time, you will know what suits your taste the next time. We happen to be garlic fens. I usually add twice the amount of garlic, unless it is something like 50 Clove Chicken. I found that Wolfgang Puck’s dough recipe for his duck pizza is very good, and comes out perfect every time. It also makes enough for 4 pizzas which means I only have to make dough every other time. It freezes well.
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema View Post
The book "The Professional Chef" is the textbook used at the Culinary Institute of America.

It will teach you all of that and much more. It's very interesting.

Amazon.com: professional chef culinary institute of america
Is on cooking not better?
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:52 PM   #10
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Much as I hate TV, the cooking shows have a lot to offer. I have learned a lot of technique from them. The second most important for me was hands on experimentation. Once I realized that the worst that could happen is that you had to order a pizza for dinner, cooking suddenly became more enjoyable
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