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Old 10-08-2011, 05:50 PM   #1
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New from Connecticut

I am an amateur self-taught home chef. I basically came to this site to learn as much as I can for free. I love to cook, and it's a great hobby, but not one I am willing to pay for classes to learn how to do it. The bottom line is the food. If it comes out tasting great, whether to me only, or to family and friends, that's my audience and that's all that matters. I don't have any plans to work in a restaurant or even to turn my hobby into a business. I would like to see what you all have to offer, what dishes you love to make, how to do different styles, incorporate other cuisines, etc. to expand my horizons and to spread variety among my family and friends.

What do you think are the things I should know or learn to ensure I have the most basic skills to be an above-average amateur self-taught home chef and make as many different dishes possible? (Think basics, not specifics, i.e. knife skills, cooking methods, identifying cuisines, etc.)

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Old 10-08-2011, 05:59 PM   #2
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You have found the right spot. Some of us are just long time seniors who have learned through feeding family for decades. Some of us are pros in every meaning of the word. Whether it be a question about what type of utensil to buy when you're outfitting your first good kitchen, to how to best boil a potato, to how to put together a restaurant-caliber meal, you can find it here. Welcome.
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:00 PM   #3
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First, welcome to DC.

Second, a good cookbook will have chapters on those skills. Many of us have favorite starter books, mine is Better Homes and Gardens.
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:03 PM   #4
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Welcome, Gargon! There is a ton of information here!
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Old 10-08-2011, 06:08 PM   #5
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Welcome to DC.

Josie
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Old 10-08-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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Welcome. Claire and Princess summed things up pretty well! Have a good time!
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:45 PM   #7
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Welcome.

Go grab a copy of Gastronomique(Larousse), and Food Lovers Companion.

You have come to the right place, ask away and I am sure you will get a wide variety of knowledgeable answers/solutions.
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Old 10-09-2011, 09:40 AM   #8
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Thank you for the suggestions on the cookbooks, but what I was really looking for was more along the lines of filling in the blank to this sentence:

If you learn/know how to do ________ you will be able to make so many different dishes.


Through an internet search in the past I learned that there are 5 Mother Sauces. In my mind, I would imagine that if I get a good grasp on those 5, I can pretty much make any kind of sauce and that the possibilities are endless.

That's kind of where I was going with my question. Once I know what I should learn or know how to do, I will search for several videos on the internet to see how other chefs do it, and find out what method works best for me.
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Old 10-09-2011, 10:41 AM   #9
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If you can make a good roux, you can make a whole lot of dishes. If you can make a decent beauchemel (sp), you can make a whole lot of other dishes. If you can make a great stock, you can make yet a whole 'nother bunch of dishes. Those are three things that I think one should strive to master in the kitchen. I am still working on "to die for turkey" stock--this after 40 years in the kitchen.
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:00 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CWS4322 View Post
If you can make a good roux, you can make a whole lot of dishes. If you can make a decent beauchemel (sp), you can make a whole lot of other dishes. If you can make a great stock, you can make yet a whole 'nother bunch of dishes. Those are three things that I think one should strive to master in the kitchen. I am still working on "to die for turkey" stock--this after 40 years in the kitchen.
Thanks, that's kinda what I was after. Another question I have is how you develop your palate. Do you treat food and cooking in the same way you do wine? Do you sit there and personally judge each ingredient and then judge the dish afterwards? How do you distinguish individual flavors as opposed to the flavor of the finished product itself? To me, lasagna tastes like lasagne. I have a tough time "tasting" the spices in the sauce, the fat quantity in the ricotta (whole vs. reduced fat), and whether it uses ground beef or ground turkey. Some people claim that they can tell the difference between a low fat/low cal lasagna and a "high octane" one, but I can't tell if they are full of it, or whether I just have no idea what food tastes like, or maybe I do notice it, but not enough to distinguish what that little something different is. Is there a way to train your palate and learn flavors?
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