How to Cook for Beginners

This is the ultimate guide on how to cook. This article covers basic steps, tips, equipment, and techniques to help you to achieve the goal of cooking delicious food fast!

Food is one of the single most powerful objects in the world. The taste and smell of food can be so evocative that it triggers emotions and memories. It’s a force that can break down walls, uniting people of different cultures, religions, and political beliefs together. Consuming food is great but making it is even more magical.

How to Cook

Cooking is the practice of preparing food by combining ingredients. Making food at home should not be stressful. Learning how to cook food should be easy and even easier to eat!

My Top Tips on How to Cook

  • Commit to a single cuisine and recipe 
    • Each cuisine has unique flavors which is made up of fresh herbs, condiments, dried seasonings, and grains. Start with recipes from a single recipe family first before expanding into other cuisines.
    • Determine whether the recipe is easy and accessible. Does the recipe require advanced appliances, special ingredients, intricate techniques or a long prep time? I recommend starting with a recipe with a short list of ingredients and a total time of 45 minutes or less. Being ambitious is fine but make sure to familiarize yourself with the recipe well before you start especially if it’s complex!
  • Read, mise, and stay calm 
    • Reading through new recipes carefully is a very fundamental skill. By reading, we are preventing a lot of silly mistakes such as skipping steps or wasting good ingredients altogether. 
    • When we are stressed, we are prone to making mistakes in the kitchen. One way to keep stress down is to mise en place, a technique which maximizes efficiency.
      • Lay out all of the ingredients and equipment
      • Prepare the ingredients accordingly
      • Take note of the cooking time and temperatures specified in the recipe
  • Good food begins and ends with good seasoning | The most important cooking technique is having the intuition of seasoning to taste. Do you like your food spicy, tangy, sweet, or salty? Just keep cooking, tasting, and adjusting until it’s delicious. It’s simple as that.
  • Cook it again and again | If it’s good, you’ll naturally want to remake the recipe more than once. Every time you make it, the more muscle memory and intuition you’ll develop creating confidence. Soon enough you’ll be able to cook by heart!

Good food begins and ends with good seasoning.The most important cooking technique is having the intuition of seasoning to taste. Just keep cooking, tasting, and adjusting until it’s delicious.

Essential Equipment

Here are the essential tools that I need in my kitchen.

Kitchen Checklist

  • Wood cutting board
  • Chef’s knife
  • Carving knife or poultry shears 
  • Probe thermometer
  • Glass or steel mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups
  • Kitchen towels
  • Glass storage containers
  • Colander or sieves
  • Silicone whisk
  • Silicone spatula
  • Large dutch oven
  • Wooden spoon set
  • Can opener
  • Air fryer
  • Foil
  • Saran wrap

Other Important Techniques

Food Safety

  • Understanding the difference between fresh and spoiled food is a key skill for both cooks and non-cooks alike. Although the sell by and use by date are fair indicators, what is more important is being able to identify the signs of spoilage. Foul sour odors, bruising, leakage, and molding indicates the presence of bacteria which could make the handling and consumption of it unsafe which risks food poisoning. 
    • Understand the proper temperatures that each protein needs to be considered safe to consume. This does not need to be memorized as temperature charts are usually included in the menu setting of a thermometer. You may also search for the doneness temperature on a search engine or ask your virtual assistant.Egg = 160 F
      • Poultry = 165 F
      • Fish = 145 F
      • Red meat = 145 F
      • Leftovers = 165 F
  • Understand how to properly sanitize your surfaces and how to minimize cross contamination. After prepping raw meat, spray down surfaces with sanitizers that contain chlorine or ammonium before wiping it off. Soak equipment in hot soapy water and rinse well. 
  • How to safely thaw meat. My favorite way of defrosting meat is to leave it in the refrigerator for at least one night depending on the size of the protein. Many microwaves also have a defrost function for an express method.
  • Learn how to properly store food. Leftovers should always be refrigerated within 6 hours of cooking or less. Use airtight containers to prevent contamination, storing raw food below cooked food.

Lastly, YOU GOT THIS! Tag me in your cooks at @vocabularyoffood 🙂

Kelly

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