Learning

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by lifesavin, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    I am a very inspired home cook, however I missing something.  I have purchased a few books and have read on how to do some things.  I really feel like I need to take a class or two. For example on sauces, pairing flavors, techniques and so on.  Does anybody know of a way to do this without taking credit classes at a college and breaking the bank?  T

    Thanks,

    Andy
     
  2. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    It might help if we knew where you were located...
     
  3. mikez

    mikez

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    what are you interested in and like to cook? Also where do you think you need to improve your skills? Is it your knife skills, is it basic cooking techniques. Dare I say if you are a home cook maybe it is not as important to learn the mother sauces as much as how to saute or maybe different techniques on preparing a chicken. You can always check out some of the cooking shows on PBS\food network/youtube and try to recreate them at home and for friends. Same with things online you can look at videos and recipes and try and make them and learn things by cooking at home.
     
  4. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    Sorry about that.  Located in Seattle, WA.
     
  5. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    I like to cook all types of things really.  I would like to improve upon basic cooking techniques. Saute, braise and so on.  I do watch those channels on a very regular basis and cook some of what I see.  I feel like something is missing from doing that.  I am a very hands on learner so I think a class would benefit me.
     
  6. eastshores

    eastshores

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    Just a thought but there are probably some underground dinner clubs in your area where people take turn hosting smallish groups in which usually there is a fair amount of thought and effort put into the menus. It's a thing for foodies that enjoy cooking / hosting but can't realistically do it full time. Personally I've found that group involvement really makes cooking enjoyable through sharing the food and seeing others enjoy it, and importantly gaining feedback on what could be different or better about things.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  7. mikez

    mikez

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    If I were you I would take some classes at the Le Cordon Bleu center in Seattle...

    http://chefsseriesseattle.eventbrite.com/

    Might I also suggest Jacques Pépin's Complete Techniques, and maybe some of the CIA's videos on techniques which you can probably buy, or send me a PM about :)
     
  8. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Andy, you don't learn how to cook well by reading only as you may have realized already. My suggestion is to stay far away from those classic foodwriters for the time being. They are oldfashioned and mostly only usable for research.

    Buy a good food magazine. Often there's a ton of easy recipes. Also and very important; a good magazine is always very aware of seasonal products and presents recipes based on that. They obviously do the right foodpairing, make nice contemporary sauces and technique...

    Just pick a recipe or more that you're confident with to be able to make, do some shopping and make the recipe straight from the magazine, line by line. You'll learn a lot!

    Keep on doing that. The moment you start to improvise you're on the right track. That may also be the right time to buy classic cookbooks.

    On the other hand, I followed a cooking class last year...  for the first time at age 61. I learned more than I could imagine and it was fun. Same thing; learning to cook is very much a hands-on thing.
     
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Here's a different slant, Andy. Forget about recipes! What you should be doing is concentrating on techniques.

    Keep in mind, however, that you cannot start something today and have 20 years experience by tomorow. I am not being facitious. Good cooking consists of manipulating good ingredients with good techniques. And good technique is based on repetition. You can learn the basics of sauteeing, for instance, by watching someone else do it. But until you've actually sauteed something, time after time, you really don't know what it's all about.

    In short, a good part of learning is to recognize that some things only come through time in grade.

    The other part of good cooking is learning how flavors and ingredients work with each other. A good exercize for that is to pick one technique and one main ingredient and run the changes on it.

    For instance, start with a chicken breast. Pound it so it's even. Then saute it with just salt and pepper. Next time, try salt, pepper, and other herbs and spices. Then try it by dusting with flour. Finally, use a three-bowl set up of flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs. Dip in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, then the breadcrumbs. How is that different from a plain breast? What happens if you use seasoned flour? Of mix some hot sauce into the eggs? Or add spices and herbs to the breadcrumbs? What happens to the flavor and/or texture if instead of breadcrumbs you use ground nuts? Or crushed corn flakes? Or any of a dozen possible breadings? Does the addition of, say, Parmesan to the breading make any difference?

    By the time you're done, you'll #1 likely never want to see another chicken breast. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   But, #2, and more important, you'll truly understand sauteeing/pan frying, and what you can or cannot do with it as a technique.

    What I'm saying is that there's nothing wrong with taking classes. But when you're done, you'll still have to repeat what you've learned, over and over again, until you're fully confident with it.
     
    gourmetm likes this.
  10. ursy10

    ursy10

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    If I'm interested in developing my skill in something, I immerse myself in it - I go through recipes on various sites, read blog posts, and read the reviews on recipes and comments on the blog posts as well - you can learn a lot from them about what has worked for other people, what problems they encountered, how to fix it. I also look up videos on YouTube and just explore the topic. I don't just look up one recipe, read one blog post, view one video - I look at many of each. You can learn a lot about what is important, even if some of the opinions expressed conflict with one another - it doesn't always mean that one is wrong.

    Then I just put it all into practice! I have a lot of fun with it, my family enjoys taste-testing for me, and I am learning all the time because of it.

    Plus, I go on forums like these and read what other people are doing, share ideas with them, and build friendships with like minded people. 

    So I'd say you're off to a good start :)
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  11. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    Great Advice!  I have done some of this.  It always seems though that the videos I find on Youtube are not the greatest.  Probably just need to look around some more.  What other websites/forums do you read?
     
  12. newtothescene

    newtothescene

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    Alton Brown has a great show that I'm sure you heard of called Good Eats. He gets down with the very basic and does step by step instructions. He also explains the science in food so you can get a basic understanding of whats going on when your cooking or baking. Along with the show he has written and published three volumes of Good Eats books that you can find in hard cover for about 20 bucks a piece. These books will go through every episode noting episode highlights and step by step instruction on how to prepare whatever was done in that show. You can find many episodes of the show on youtube or you can catch it on Food Network. 

    I would also recommend looking for a local business that offers hands on beginner culinary classes. Google should be able to help you find a local business that does such a thing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2011
  13. ursy10

    ursy10

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    I used to frequent Chowhound, but I really didn't like their heavy handed moderation style. It's a shame, because I really liked some of the members... anyway that's how I found cheftalk, was looking for a more relaxed place. So far it looks really promising! 

    I love allrecipes.com just for its reviewing system (and there are a few other places with similar systems but for some reason allrecipes has become my go-to). 

    Oh! And I love watching MasterChef when it's on! Here in Australia, the final is tomorrow - I'm really going to miss that show when it ends, I'll have to replace it with something else. You might be able to watch the videos at www.masterchef.com.au (I'm not sure if it's available to the whole world though)

    Sometimes you can find online videos of cooking shows, I'll have to investigate that a bit more too.
     
  14. nicholas beebe

    nicholas beebe

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    Ideas In Food : By the authors of the book of the same name

    Serious Eats  : Blog authored by many people and home of the seriously awesome Food Lab. My favorites are animal fat mayonnaise and beer cooler sous vide.

    egullet.org: Forums for a not-for-profit organization that promotes food and cooking knowledge. Among guests there have been Grant Achatz (of Alinea) and Chad Ward (wrote An Edge in the Kitchen).

    Ruhlman: The blog of the guy who helped Thomas Keller write The French Laundry Cookbook. It's good stuff.
     
  15. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    I also watch MasterChef.  It is a great show and always gets me thinking.  Always telling myself that if those home cooks can learn to make a souffle and braise those short ribs that I can also learn and become a decent cook.
     
  16. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    Thank you for the links!
     
  17. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    I do watch Alton Brown, Good Eats.  I do enjoy how he teaches while he preparing.  He really needs to make some new episodes of the show.
     
  18. nicholas beebe

    nicholas beebe

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    Mr. Brown announced that there will be no more Good Eats. He did, however, hint that he was starting something new. I look forward to it.
     
  19. lifesavin

    lifesavin

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    Ah!   That's no good!  I am sure what ever he comes up with will be great.  Maybe he decided the quirky antics weren't a good idea anymore.
     
  20. apprentichef

    apprentichef

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    May I humbly suggest the community at http://www.stellaculinary.com which evolved from freeculinaryschool.com

    Watch video lessons, ask questions in a comfortable and more relaxed community. They have a varied membership from around the world including home cooks, professional chefs and caterers.

    As always, everything is free because it is about the community and learning, not making a buck off of you somewhere. The more people that cook and take an interest in it, the better.