Learning to Cook: Game Plan & Chapter 0

Learning to Cook: Game Plan & Chapter 0

One passion of mine that brings me great joy is cooking. From picking out the ingredients to plating the completed meal, I enjoy every step of the process with all 5 senses. With a glass of red wine nearby, and some jazz or tango on Pandora, I could cook all night. The other weekend, I felt suddenly inspired to make croissants and rocked out 24 or so plain, chocolate filled, croissants! https://instagram.com/p/7VjlffOzLG/?taken-by=ashleyjoyinc

With that said, I'm not great at it. Sure, I have mastered a few delicious go-to's, but my repertoire of recipes is not broad-reaching. But as a huge Alton Brown fan (if you haven't seen Good Eats, do yourself a culinary favor and watch it now), I'm of the firm belief that an aspiring home chef should know the science behind the madness. I want to learn the principles that will allow me to play on my own in the kitchen. I think this is what truly separates great cooks from great recipe followers.

Enter the book "The Science of Good Cooking".  I put this book on our wedding registry and my amazing mother in law gave it to me at the bridal shower. And now that I have all this free time sans-wedding planning and sans-grad school, I have the time to dig in.

So here's the plan:

The Science of Good Cooking contains 50 Concepts. I will be reading 1 concept a week and making 2 recipes that go along with that concept. Each week, I'll write a recap on what I learned and how it went.

So the first step to doing this right is starting from the beginning. Because I don't want to miss any valuable nuggets. So my journey with the science of cooking begins with the introduction pages that cover the history of cooking, measurements, ingredients, etc. Here are my big takeways from the intro:

  • Ovens are not always reliable - buy an oven thermometer  (check!)
  • You can balance flavors with other flavors. Generally speaking:
    • Salt balances bitter
    • Sugar balances spice/heat
  • The way you cut an onion affects its flavor (?!)
    • Sliced pole to pole, an onion is less pungent
    • Sliced through the equator, an onion is more pungent. This is because you are rupturing more cells this way.
  • The reason you cut flank steak across the grain is to cut the long muscle fibers into shorter pieces (thus making it more tender, easier to chew than one long piece) ( I have always wondered about that!)
  • Kosher salt does not equal table salt. Kosher salt measurement is half of table salt measurement.

I'm excited to have a plan to learn more about cooking (without paying a billion dollars to take fancy classes -- but don't think I didn't consider it! ;-) ) With the basics down, I'm ready to hit the road next week with Concept 1!