First, I must admit I'm not great with computers...
Then I must also admit that I'm not the greatest cook in the world...!!!
I can do recipees I know of hand. But yesterday I decided to make a special for my boyfriend's birthday...!
So, I decided on a 3 course meal: entree, main course with vegetables, and of course desert... I took a recipee magazine that said it was quick and EASY to do !!!
It took me all day...
Everything went slightly wrong.
The first course a "warm roquette salad (roquette is a type of salad): the salad at the bottom,with scallops and pears quarter slightly cooked in maple syrup;well there weren't enough scallops (I had taken the small ones instead of the bigger ones... and the warm pears were slighly hard),but, still it tasted good (Oh I forgot about adding flower sun seeds on top,which I did added).
The main course was some kind of canelloni but based upon lasagna supposedly fresh (I couldn't find any ! ) cut in 3 on the lenght side... So thought if I cooked them a little it would be easier to cut; that was a mistake !! So I ended up putting whole lasagna sheets (?)...the mixture in it was freshly cooked and in tiny pieces salmon,with ricotta cheese and cooked spinach miked all up, with mozarella cheese on top...
Well it ended up like somekind of plate with no form of cannelloni at all, and it wasn't hot enough when I served it...
For desert I tried a recipee with different layers of Graham cookies, chololate mousse,but at the end you had to make whipped cream with maple syrup; I didn't manage to make the whipped cream, so it ended up with cream on top that filtered through what I had previouly done and was some kind of mishmash desert...
Everybody thought it was good; and I must admit myself that it tasted pretty good, but nothing I achieved was what it should have looked like...!!!!!!!( or the photograph next to the recipee)
So for now, "until I recover" I'll let my boyfriend cook...
SO DON'T BELIEVE THESE EASY TO COOK MAGAZINES!!!!
If you read all this you might have become really bored, anyway, it pushed it out of my mind...
lol, i've done this! GLAD EVERYONE LIKED YOUR COOKING though, even if you yourself were not impressed.
one thing i've learned the hard way, well, actually, i've had to learn this a few times, over and over, is--
if i'm cooking to impress, stick to recipes i know well.
i'm rarely cooking to impress, though, ha ha.
but, i've got some doozies when i broke my own rule:...i once made a dish that was mistaken for cat food. I've made a few recipes, that when brought to a pot-luck dinner, were left untouched.
there's a few things i make exceedingly well, some things i do okay, and some things i can really mess up.
I don't cook nearly as often now, and am getting out of practice, as my guy likes to do almost all of the cooking.
One thing i have trouble with, that he never does, is getting everything done at same time.
And now that i cook less often, i'm even worse at that!! I also tend to use a lot of spices, which does not suit everyone. I also tend to overcook somethings. I never overcook pasta or vegetables, but, other things, i do often overcook them a bit.
My dad was a decent cook so I got interested real early. I remember as a kid equating this with chemistry (my favorite toys were chemistry sets - and I got a few =)
I'm not a great cook but there are still a lot of dishes I can execute fairly well.
More importantly, I really like to cook. I'm not very adventurous when it comes to tastes but what I like to eat I do well (and people come back when I invite them again.)
I can relate here Michael - my mother was a chef, I rarely cook to a recipie, but I can't bake to save myself - she despaired of teaching me ....
My skill seems to be in inventing and rescuing disasters back to edibility.
A noble cause =)
I would say a strategy for learning to cook, is to first learn to crawl, then walk and then run. Plus I'll second the stuff about chemistry. I think Julie Child was a Chemist; My mom had her Masters in Analytical Chemistry with emphasis on food, but she wasn't a super fancy cook, just really good basics. I think in order to get into some of the most prestigious cooking academies in Europe, you need a bachelors degree in chemistry or biology/biochemistry. A basic understanding of the science of what is going on when you cook is very helpful, concepts like liquid phases, emulsions, surfactants, dehydration, hydrolysation, heat of fusion and evaporation, polymerization, ... all these scary technologic sounding terms apply to food as it is prepared. I don't think one has to go out and get a chemistry degree to be a good cook, but getting a good basic book about food chemistry would be a good idea.
I would start out with the basics. Master those and also the kitchen manipulation techniques, like chopping, folding, sautéing, poaching, reducing, deglazing, working with doughs, rues, crusts and sauces. Get so you can do those things efficiently, without creating huge messes, cleaning up as you go, using secondary products of one food for another dish(like the boiled potato water for the gravy), and multitasking. I remember one famous cook, talking about his first days at a cooking academy in France, it might have been Jacques Pepin, said that after the classroom part of his first day, his mentor took him to the huge pantry and had him carry out this huge 50 Kg bag of onions, and said "get chopping".
Once you have some basic things mastered, first try to vary them, and jazz them up. Once you've got the box Mac and cheese down, first try to jazz it up, maybe poblano peppers, try different things or vary the way the basics are cooked. Then try to do it from scratch, basic at first, then cooked as a casserole, then jazzed up. Always think about kicking things up a notch. Then you can start to forget about the recipes, at least following them to the letter. Substitute. Improvise. Enhance. Kick! When you get so familiar with food that you are constantly kicking things up, basically you are like a maestro of food, or like a master jazz saxman or blues guitarist, and you can just jam. You know how the notes or foods go together, what brings out the best in them, and how to stream and weave them into a great jam. Along the way, you learn how to put on a pretty display, but this is secondary.
I should add, watch the good cooking shows, but especially the shows that have the good cooking teachers, that show techniques, like measuring or chopping, and not just little pre-measured containers of stuff they pour together. I like Jacques Pepin, and Emeril Lagasse. Watch for the techniques these guys use, the basic techniques not so much the whole dish, unless you know that dish, and then absorb the finer points on making it, or how to kick it up.
Thanks for the advice (by the way I definitely think that I was too ambitious). I CAN make Kraft dinner... so if I start learning how to chop to grill or to put things on the burner and practice on that as well, I'll improve my Kraft dinners and whatever else (but not tonight!)...
In Quebec there's a very rich culture of cooking lore. In our tiny linguistic niche, the volume of local French books, TV shows, websites and magazines is disproportionate. Small restaurants and food shops abound. We have lots of cooking schools and academies, it's almost a cult =)
My grandmother was a terrific cook, everything she made was done with care and tasted great. My mom disliked cooking and would order in more often than not. She did manage to teach me the basics, but most of my culinary skill I learned on my own, way before all these cooking shows were on the air.
I'm not a great cook (like Neal), but overall my cooking is pretty good. I've read that artists tend to be better cooks - they are more adventurous and seem to have a good sense of mixing flavors and spices. From my experience that's pretty true.
I do love to entertain, but I tend to have a hard time getting the food out in a timely fashion. I've learned from experience that if I want to make anything for the first time, I don't try it out on guests. Either I choose something that I know how to do well, or I try out a recipe first, knowing that it always needs to be adjusted. I've made plenty of flops and so-so meals, but it's a learning process. The more you make a dish the better it becomes, just like most anything one undertakes.