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How to learn how to cook?

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  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,301
    robnybbq,

    Here's what I've been doing to learn to cook since I became "serious" about it 12 - 14 years ago.

    Read and collect recipes. Also tips and tricks. Read lots of online forums like this one. Many common problems are discussed from all angles.

    Plan on spending time just experimenting, and making quite a lot of things that go quickly into the garbage. Don't get (too) discouraged. Take notes. I find doing side by side comparisons useful. For instance, melt some butter, and mix in various herbs and/or spices. Spread on bread.

    When I got serious, I set aside at least one 4 hour period a weekend to concentrate on a particular dish or technique. This was on top of cooking 3 nights a week just as household duties. As I became more proficient, it was easier to spend more time, because the results were more rewarding.

    Use all of your senses. How do the aromas change as foods are cooked? How much sizzle might there be, or steam rising from the foods? How does the texture change?

    Start simple, and do it over and over. Sauté onions, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, etc. Move on to thinner cuts of meat. Make a pan sauce from the drippings. All of that will get you closer to making good steaks.

    Realize that the old fashioned phrase "Just like Grandma used to make," was for food someone had cooked maybe 2500 times., and done it from scratch. A restaurant cook may cook the same thing several hundred times a week. Hard for today's home cooks to gain so much experience.

    ***

    As for good steaks, both my experience and reading indicate that the quality of the meat is fundamental. Yes, the steak needs to be well browned on the outside, and it should rest at least 10 minutes before eating. But the difference in flavor between standard commodity beef and carefully pastured and aged beef is astonishing. They might almost be mistaken for different species.


  • henapplehenapple Posts: 12,425
    I agree with @gdenby on meat quality. You can't build a nice table with bad lumber. Has steaks from Sam's recently.. Worst I've had but cooked the same as always. A steak pumped fill of water will steam itself making ittough.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • dlk7dlk7 Posts: 983
    You may want to look into the benefits of Sous Vide for tougher steaks and chicken breasts.  Adding the color and smoke from the egg sear is a great combination.  Put a New York Strip in at 135 degrees for 8 - 10 hours and then sear at 550 - 600 degrees on the egg for 60 seconds per side creates an incredible meal.  It's all about practice and experiments.  We try to work in 3 new recipes per week and then make notes on what worked and didn't and whether to make changes or dump the recipe.  Want to put a smile on everyone's face?  Try bananas foster on the egg.

    Two XL BGEs - So Happy!!!!

    Waunakee, WI

  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    Thanks guys.

    Will try steaks again next week hopefully.  I am working my normal shift and don't get home until after 7 now.  Too late to fire up the Egg for a quick weeknight meal (dark and cold out - I hate it).

    Doing a brisket this Friday night for my sons Birthday party Saturday night.  I am hoping the brisket will be done by 11 am on Saturday so I can FTC it for 5-6 hours.  Son has his first ice hockey game Saturday as well before the family comes over.  Also going to try pizza for the kids Saturday night (May just get dough from the pizza place down the road this time). 

    Not allot of time to Egg this weekend besides this and going forward for a while.  Son has hockey games every Saturday/Sunday until March.  Maybe a quick cook here and there but most of the cooking will be done in the house or takeout due to time.  Lots of microwaving.  I'll have to work on meals indoors for a while and hopefully learn how to add spices and recipes that I like.  I see allot of recipes out there to try but most are not carb friendly.  This is driving me nuts.  a 15 minute cook in the microwave or frying pan during the week is going to be tough on a low carb diet.

    I want BREAD/Potatos/pasta damn it...>:P



    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • HotchHotch Posts: 1,018

    So I went on a mission to learn why steak houses have such a great flavor.Most steak houses will brush or dip your steak in a clarified butter just before pulling from the grill. I am not a steak fan but the wife is. And I wanted to have the same great flavor.

    So we use Ghee. Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani), North African (Egyptian and Berber) and Horn African cuisine. Total fat: 14 gm; Sodium: 0; Total carbohydrate: 0; Sugar: 0; Dietary fiber: 0; Protein: 0.04g; Calcium: 0; Iron: 0; Cholesterol: 33 mg.

    If will make your boot taste great.

    Stay the course and you will be fine. Ask away on anything you may want to tackle. That's what I do and the forum guys always steer me in the right direction.

     "You’re not a real Texan till you’ve been kicked out of every decent state in America." - Joe Bob Briggs

    LBGE, Mini BGE and R&V Fryer

    Prosper TX

    And your are correct, Texas Red has no Beans



  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    I think I got some good steak recommendations now. 

    I guess I need a good cookbook as well to learn about spices.  I just dont want to taste spices on the food but rather flavor in the food. 

    For example - coating chicken breast with basil, lemon, pepper tastes like basil and lemon only.  Does that make sense? 

    Another example - My favorite chicken is Chicken parmagiana with a side of pasta - I can no longer have it with the low carb and I tried plain grilled chicken with cheese and a touch of sauce on it and it does not work.  Spaghetti squash is OK but not the same.

    A hamburger without a bun is not good either.  Meatballs without breadcrumbs are nasty.

    I need to find other recipes/ways to cook flavorful food or the low carb will be gone and here comes the 30+ lbs I lost right back on.  I am reaching a breaking point with that.  This is what started this thread basically I think.  Trying to find ways to make great food at home but wit ha low-carb flair.  This is why I have been trying for steaks and plain chicken. 

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • Baking is a science but cooking is an art.  It just takes a little bit of practical kitchen knowledge and practice.  You have already expressed a desire to learn so you're over half way there.  A good thermometer is a must.  Have fun and don't get discouraged!!!!!

    "Let us cross over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees." 
    -Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson

    Peachtree Corners, GA
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,301
    robnybbq said:
    I guess I need a good cookbook as well to learn about spices.  I just dont want to taste spices on the food but rather flavor in the food. 


    For example - coating chicken breast with basil, lemon, pepper tastes like basil and lemon only.  Does that make sense? 
    Yeah, chicken breasts have very little flavor. Switch to thighs. There's a bit more fat, but a lot more flavor. Or dark meat turkey.

    Salt and acid are vital in making foods more palatable. A bit of lemon juice or vinegar on many foods will make it taste a lot better.

    Likewise, glutamates will make even cardboard appealing.

    Maillard reactions are a must. The reactions will happen better above 300F, so make sure surface are as dry as possible, the the food doesn't just steam itself.

    The level of spiciness may be a personal preference. I can't imagine someone from India enjoying anything that didn't have at least 6 different spice in it.

    Something you might try is switching to sauces that don't have don't have a tomatoes and onions, both of which have lots of carbs. Essentially, viniagrettes w. some spices and or savory notes like toasted sesame.

    I can only sympathize w. a lack of pasta or 'taters.

  • NsdexterNsdexter Posts: 135
    for a good steak you have to salt it and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours, take it out dry it off and let it sit at room temperature.

    http://thechive.com/2013/05/23/a-mans-guide-to-cooking-the-perfect-steak-17-photos/

    this is kind of a funny way to get it.

    In terms of learning to cook i think that the most important part is learning to taste and know what things should taste like, example you like bernaise sauce, great try something easy like a tarragon butter similar idea but much much easier to produce.

    Another good way to learn is to watch TV Americas test kitchen, gordon ramsay, cooks country, julia childs, pasquale, **** even rachel ray might say something halfway right once in a while.

    Dont focus on making massive production meals until you get the basics of one or two of the big pieces, example roast beef, potatoes , yorkshire pudding, green beans and another veg. If you cant do the roast on the egg try the yorkies and the spuds on it.
    HFX NS
  • brianwdmnbrianwdmn Posts: 359
    It's important to distinguish between spice and seasoning. Seasoning is basic, think salt and pepper. Many poorly written recipes fail to mention it because it's presumed the cook would know. Earlier you got the recommendation to tune in/subscribe to Cooks Illustrated. Follow that advice. I've been amazed with the thorough explanations of not only what works but what didn't and why. And I attended Culinary School. The last thought I'll reinforce is, you can't learn to cook eating at restaurants. Practice, fail, order pizza.
    Marietta, East Cobb, GA
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 12,425
    In terms of learning to cook i think that the most important part is learning to taste and know what things should taste like

    To a degree I agree. I'm happy when my family and friends are happy. I've had people on here say you can't bacon wrap shrimp yet when I cook it my family loves it. I'm sure my paella would be scoffed at by some but seeing my son scarf it down makes me happy. You'll probably never be Aaron, Rachel or Guy... Be Rob. Be patient, adventurous, stubborn... Enjoy it.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • IMHO the Egg makes low carb much easier to follow.
    Originally from the Caribbean I grew up with spicy flavourfull foods.
    With the Egg, I season most meats overnight prior to putting on Egg and everything usually turns out amazing - from chili, curries, brisket, pork everything.
    Take a gander on Google and look up green seasoning recipes - make your own low carb seasoning and marinate your meats overnight - you will need a very small amount of "sauces" after that.
    Cook a ton on weekends and package up for during week when you don't have time to bbq.
    At the end of the day, have fun - your cooks will taste better when you are enjoying yourself :)
  • WeberWho?WeberWho? Posts: 1,147
    It's also part of your brain messing with you.  The biggest and hardest critic to impress is usually yourself.  The best food I eat is food I don't cook 
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    WeberWho? said:
    It's also part of your brain messing with you.  The biggest and hardest critic to impress is usually yourself.  The best food I eat is food I don't cook 
    Agreed!

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • The Cen-Tex SmokerThe Cen-Tex Smoker Posts: 11,813
    edited October 2013
    If you want low carb with great flavor that is fast and easy to do on a weeknight go here:


    I've made dozens of recipes from here and she's great. Tons of flavor, simple processes and all low carb. She will make you a better cook for sure (in all areas, not just low carb). The whole family loves her stuff. She's South Beach focused so it's very healthy too. 

    The best steaks you will ever eat can be cooked inside in mere minutes. 

    I'll put this steak ^^^^^^^ up against any egged steak any day.I never cook straight up steak on the egg anymore. I do all kinds of marinated steak like mexican/asian etc on the egg but when I want a big, thick steakhouse quality steak, I cook them inside. 

    The sous vide recommendation in the post above is perfect for you. You can put steaks/fish/chops/chicken in when you go to work and they will be perfect internal temp (no Thermapen needed) and ready to finish any way you want in under 5 minutes when you get home . This can be done in a pan, on the egg, or in the oven, or even with a blow torch (if you want to look like a badass) in no time. It will be the best, easiest proteins you have ever made. Great for eggs and veggies too. You get home at 7 and a great dinner is on the table at 7:15. Plus you can make extra and just rewarm throughout the week. We SV multiple chicken breasts most Mondays and eat them throughout the week.They are bursting with juice and flavor even if reheated days later. 

    I love my egg and use it 3-4X per week but I have tons of time on my hands (I office at home and have for 20 years). That being said, give me a some decent protein, a very basic knowledge of seasoning and sauces, a single cast iron skillet, a decent heat source with 15-20 minutes to cook (including prep) and I'm eating like a king. You can learn the seasoning/sauces in a few hours of reading and trial and error. That will benefit you for a lifetime. 

    Let me know if you want more info on this stuff. Glad to help if I can.



  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,244
    your jambalaya cook is a good way to learn to cook, when your eating it ask your self what it needed, more salt, maybe some red pepper flakes etc, what would it need to be better. i can see you go light with the spices, im thinking there isnt a jambalya cook that even owns a 1/4 teaspoon, best way to learn spices is to overpower a few dishes with an ingrediant and then back it down with the next cook
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    Well its brisket time tomorrow evening for Saturday night and pizza's (Store bought dough, sauce and cheese) on Saturday for appetizers and kids dinners.

    Then who know when I will use it next.  I need to learn more in the house cooking now as the cold weather/lack of daylight is here.

    The Sous Vide idea looks interesting but I do not have any more room for ANY more kitchen stuff.  I only have 5 ft of total counter space available and that includes 1/3 gone for the kitchen sink. 

    That jambalaya cook - I used a recipe I found on the web for those spices.  The thyme was strong in flavor but the cook lacked "Creole" - or deep flavor.  I do not think adding more garlic, parlsey (which I have yet to taste in any meals I make other than color), or cayenne would have changed that.  More cayenne would have made it too hot and over powering.  I do not know what it missed.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • johnkitchensjohnkitchens Posts: 1,813
    I think I also need to call Mickey. :(
    image
    Louisville, GA - 2 Large BGE's
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 16,244
    robnybbq said:
    Well its brisket time tomorrow evening for Saturday night and pizza's (Store bought dough, sauce and cheese) on Saturday for appetizers and kids dinners.

    Then who know when I will use it next.  I need to learn more in the house cooking now as the cold weather/lack of daylight is here.

    The Sous Vide idea looks interesting but I do not have any more room for ANY more kitchen stuff.  I only have 5 ft of total counter space available and that includes 1/3 gone for the kitchen sink. 

    That jambalaya cook - I used a recipe I found on the web for those spices.  The thyme was strong in flavor but the cook lacked "Creole" - or deep flavor.  I do not think adding more garlic, parlsey (which I have yet to taste in any meals I make other than color), or cayenne would have changed that.  More cayenne would have made it too hot and over powering.  I do not know what it missed.
    theres something to learn right there for you tastes, parsley is useless for me as well, maybe sub some out for cilantro or sliced green onion added later in the cook, since its cauliflower and not rice, a squirt of lemon, shrimp would be good, fresh bay leaf has great flavor compared to the dry stuff. make the dish yours, not just a recipe. this is a good dish to hide things from the wife, some zucchini wouldnt be bad in it to offset the cauliflower
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 12,425
    Try one small pizza with.. Olive oil and a good coating, fresh sliced tomatoes, more cheese topped with fresh basil and drizzled with evo.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    henapple said:
    Try one small pizza with.. Olive oil and a good coating, fresh sliced tomatoes, more cheese topped with fresh basil and drizzled with evo.
    I want a pizza badly.  Low-carb means no good stuff.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 4,301
    If you have a slow cooker, and can find room to set an 8" square Auber controller next to it, you have room for a low end SV cooker. I'll concede that even chicken breasts may be considered food when cooked SV.

    There is one aspect of Creole cooking that is different than Cajun, or so I'm told. Creole uses tomato. Tomato savory flavor is built by slow cooking, so the tomato goes thru both Maillard reactions and caramelization. I don't know if store bought tomato paste is reduced by slow cooking, but to me, using some tomato paste works as well as letting a pot of something w. 'mater's cook for half a day.

    Fresh flat leafed (Italian) parsley has a pretty strong flavor. Dried parsley of any kind is rather straw like.

    I've found that a couple of dashes of celery seed adds a nice savory quality to many dishes.

    Also, some jambalaya recipes use roux. A "chocolate" roux has a great deep flavor. Roux was the base of many classic French dishes, and can range from "blonde" to "chocolate." Essentially, some flour is browned in an equal quantity of oil. Altho considered rather heavy these days, one advantage is that it can be made and frozen, and added to dishes as desired.

    Unfortunately, both tomatoes and roux have carbs, and you are avoiding those.

  • cazzycazzy Posts: 6,499
    henapple said:

    Just come spend a week with me.. We'll find someone to teach us both. Either mentally or in a journal document your cooks. Try something different if it's not working. Don't give up. After several pizzas I'm still disappointed but I'll learn... Might waste $100 worth of King Arthur flour, but I will learn. What's wrong with your steaks. Also how long have you been egging?

    I have you don't have pizza figured out by next summer...I will help you dial it in sir!!
    Just a hack that makes some shitty BBQ...
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    That is definitely needed - presentation is a train wreck but that is another story.  Friends/family that have come over love the food off of the Egg - I am not satisfied. 

    I have also thrown out allot of food or made enough for the weeks lunches to eat it for dinner and chuck it out as I did not like it or cooked incorrectly.

    Growing up mom did not cook with allot of variety - mac-n-cheese from a box, hotdogs, spaghetti, and the occasional different meal or at holidays.  So I am rebelling against my childhood eats.

    This low-carb diet I have been on has limited me to allot of foods so that is one of the reason I want to learn to cook and using spices/etc to keep me going.  I am finding this very hard to want to stay on as far as food goes as I am bored with the meals I am making but affraid to try things/spices I never heard of.  Mainly wasting time and money.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • henapplehenapple Posts: 12,425
    @cazzy is right about the presentation. I line a bowl with romaine lettuce, put my potato salad in and line the edge with cherry tomatoes. I decorate my deviled eggs with a sliced olive or jalapeño. Taste, presentation and atmosphere... Oh yeah, alcohol.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    Alcohol helps me get through it - mostly watching others eat my meals as I taste them and criticize what I have made.

    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
  • The Cen-Tex SmokerThe Cen-Tex Smoker Posts: 11,813
    edited October 2013
    robnybbq said:
    That is definitely needed - presentation is a train wreck but that is another story.  Friends/family that have come over love the food off of the Egg - I am not satisfied. 

    I have also thrown out allot of food or made enough for the weeks lunches to eat it for dinner and chuck it out as I did not like it or cooked incorrectly.

    Growing up mom did not cook with allot of variety - mac-n-cheese from a box, hotdogs, spaghetti, and the occasional different meal or at holidays.  So I am rebelling against my childhood eats.

    This low-carb diet I have been on has limited me to allot of foods so that is one of the reason I want to learn to cook and using spices/etc to keep me going.  I am finding this very hard to want to stay on as far as food goes as I am bored with the meals I am making but affraid to try things/spices I never heard of.  Mainly wasting time and money.
    again- go HERE: http://www.kalynskitchen.com/




    The last one is the one that got me hooked on her stuff and it will teach you to make an awesome, super easy mustard tarragon sauce. That exact sauce might sound familiar if you read this: http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/1155810/best-pork-chop-i-ve-ever-had#latest

    I took her sauce and put it on my chops. That's what I meant when I said if you spend a little time learning a few sauces, it will make you a better cook across the board. I use that sauce on lots of things. Once you know it, you own it and can do what you want with it.

    I haven't tried the others but they are new and figured they might be something outside the normal stuff you are bored with. They looked easy enough and you can do all these inside.

    Come on in, the water is fine. 

    Protein+Pan+heat+a little knowledge= good (low carb) food


  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 26,707
    robnybbq said:
    Alcohol helps me get through it - mostly watching others eat my meals as I taste them and criticize what I have made.
    Most of us probably critique our own food. Many of us don't eat what we cook for guests when they eat. If your friends and family are loving it you should be happy.

    Steve 

    Caledon, ON

     

  • robnybbqrobnybbq Posts: 1,615
    Thanks for the tips.  I will have to give some of them a try next week.  Also, I will keep the pizza place on speed dial.

    Have to search for a real pork chop then.  the ones we get are tiny and thin - they will be over cooked fast with that method.


    _______________________________________________________________
    LBGE, Adjustable Rig, Spider, High-Que grate, maverick ET-732, Thermapen,


    Garnerville, NY
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