Cooking is an essential survival skill, and most of us learn at the right hand side of our mothers while growing up. Despite the best efforts of moms across the planet, it’s very rare for a young person branching out on their own to know the elements of cooking.
To learn how to cook, begin with the basics. You must learn about safety, knife handling, preparation, cooking methods, herbs and spices, pairing flavor profiles and presentation. Get hands-on experience in your own kitchen, and get formal lessons and helpful hints by taking a cooking course like this one through Udemy.
Obviously, the food you cook shouldn’t kill you. Food poisoning is a very real danger, so proper food handling is important. If you ignore safety precautions, it could get very sick, and so could everyone eating your meal. Keep everyone safe by maintaining a sanitary environment, cooking foods completely and using common sense preventative measures. Learn about how to stay safe in the kitchen with this food safety course from Udemy.
The most common safety tips for cooks in the kitchen includes washing hands and all surfaces frequently, don’t let raw meat touch raw vegetables, use knives and cutting boards specific to the type of food you are preparing and never eat meats that are under-cooked or have been left out at room temperature for more than three hours.
Other good safety tips include paying attention to expirations dates, tossing foods that look or smell spoiled and storing foods in a way that prevents cross contamination.
Learning to use a real kitchen knife is a little more difficult than it looks. First, you must be able to tell the difference between a sharp and dull blade. One of the best tests of a knife blade is the paper test: if the blade can cleanly slice through a piece of paper, it’s sharp! Second, know that the easiest and most efficient way to cut foods is to rock the blade rather than forcefully chopping at foods. Third, always let the knife do the work for you. A good, sharp knife requires very little force to use effectively. Finally, the secret to keeping your fingers safe is to always make sure that your knuckles are the closest part of your fingers to approach the blade. Professional chefs never get their fingertips too close to the blade.
One of the biggest mistakes new cooks make is not cutting ingredients into uniform pieces. It doesn’t matter whether foods are chopped, diced, slices or minced, if meats and vegetables are cut into oddly sized portions, they won’t cook evenly. Biting into a spoonful of stew is wonderful when flavors blend and you don’t bite into overly firm mystery chunks or masses of mush. If your mouth full of food is simultaneously overcook and undercooked, remember to be more consistent next time.
If you mess up, remember that it’s not the end of the world and practice makes perfect. Take a cooking class like this vegetarian food preparation course from Udemy for more great insights about how to cut foods for optimal results. Watch tutorials on YouTube about how to sharpen knives if you want to get the best possible edge for chopping, slicing and dicing your foods to perfection. HINT: Japanese sushi chefs have amazing knife handling, care and maintenance tips!
Pairing Compatible Flavors
Learning about which flavors blend well requires experimentation and a little background knowledge. One of the best ways to learn about flavors and how to blend them is to take a gourmet cooking class, like this one offered through Udemy. Cooking courses can be done at home and require little more than reading about foods from other lands.
Discover all you can about blending flavors while you’re still new to cooking and haven’t formed a style yet. The more you know, the better your meals will be. Prevent getting stuck in a culinary rut by being adventurous from the start.
Creative cooks make the best meals when they learn to use all types of foods together. Don’t be afraid to get wild in the kitchen. Fruits and meats, vegetables and fruits, dairy products and sweets and other seemingly strange food combinations can be successfully blended into some of the best meals you can possibly imagine. Get yourself a good cookbook and start reading.
Herbs and Spices
Here’s the thing about herbs and spices: they’re expensive, finicky and scary to learn how to use. Most beginning cooks are so intimidated by spices that foods are left under-seasoned. Don’t be afraid of using spices: they’re amazingly powerful tools. You can turn a drab, flavorless meal into a feast befitting a king if you can unleash the power in your spice rack. One important fact that new cooks need to learn is that no recipe is set in stone. Deviation won’t lead to poisoning yourself, and experimentation is a wonderful way to learn.
A Note about Recipes
Recipes are your friend, whether you’re a new cook or not. Thanks to online recipe sites, healthy eating programs and weight loss cooking courses like this one through Udemy, there is a wealth of culinary expertise available at your fingertips. Once you learn about which herbs and spices bring out the flavors you like best, you can rely less upon recipes and more upon your personal experience. In time, you will know how much seasoning dishes require without measuring. However, beginners should use recipes as a basic starting point for getting the best possible results.
Prep work is incredibly labor intensive but definitely pays off later. Getting everything lined up to cook requires a lot of planning, shopping, organizing, cleaning and chopping. Begin by deciding which meals you want to have for the next week and how much money you want to spend to make those meals.
Planning a menu is difficult, but preparing foods in advance for the rest of the week is a huge stress reliever and time saver when you need it most. Keep nutritional needs in mind, and go with the most healthy and delicious options in order to promote your health. Having a copy of the food pyramid handy while planning your menu is a life saver!
Once you know what you want to eat for the next week, take inventory of what you have in the kitchen. I like to start with the fridge and work my way around the room in a circle, going through my inventory top to bottom. When you make your grocery list, be organized. List ingredients by where they are located in the store. This will save you a lot of steps in the supermarket.
When you get to the checkout counter, keep your foods organized. This will make checkout faster, keep your foods more organized and makes bagging easier. Not only will your cashier thank you, putting away food once you get home takes about a third of the amount of time it used to.
HINT: Don’t forget to bring your coupons with you to the store. Don’t make crazy purchases just because you can get a discount. A deal isn’t really a deal if you didn’t need the product in the first place. Food is expensive. Quit wasting money.
Once you make it home, the real work begins. I like to start my prep work by chopping vegetables and then I move on to meats. I look over my recipes, take out all the veggies I need, write down how much I need and set to work. Understand that this step will create a mess and dishes are a natural consequence. However, pre-chopping and measuring ingredients for all of your different recipes for the week will save you a ton of time and effort later on. You are also saving yourself dishes by doing all the hard work all at once.
Cooking Basics – The Most Common Methods
Once you have read up on which recipes you want to try, clipped coupons, went to the store, purchased your ingredients and have all of your prep work out of the way, it’s time to get down to actual cooking. The most basic cooking methods include baking, grilling, frying and boiling. Most recipes that you want to start out with will require only the most basic methods. If you want to be adventurous, try sautéing or steaming vegetables, braising meats and veggies, blanching fruits and vegetables or steeping herbs and spices for drinks and stocks. Do not start off with highly complex recipes that require numerous methods you don’t know how to use yet!
The quickest way to find success using all of these new methods is to get a little guidance. A cooking class is a great way to learn about food temperatures, flavors, spices, knife skills, food safety and how to fix mistakes. Learning the basics from experts is the best way to learn how to be a great cook, and classes will teach you the most basic cooking methods.
Udemy offers helpful and informative introductory courses like this one for beginning cooks who want to eat healthy. These classes are easy to take from the comfort of your own home. The best part about taking an online cooking course is that you can make all the mistakes you need to without embarrassing yourself in front of other cooks. If you need to learn how to feed yourself and those you love, get started today with a proper cooking course.