I'm looking for a good book that would teach me the basics and fundamentals of cooking techniques. Not just how to boil water, but more of the ins and outs of cooking the classics that have stood the test of time. I used to have the professional chef book way back when i was in culinary school(sadly and reluctantly, i had to drop my culinary classes and merely got a certificate in pastry due to money issues...still sad about that) but had to sell it during some rough money times. Should I re-buy that book? Anyone have some suggestions??
I do all the cooking at home and do like to cook up some relatively exotic (i.e. more expensive) dishes. I don't have a very big budget, and usually end up spending about 80% of it at the grocery store each week. i just love to cook and am struck with an undeniable desire to whip something up that just popped into my head almost every day. I don't like to plan too far ahead, cooking is much more fun if its spontaneous for me. So, its off to the grocery stores about every other day for me, sometimes every day. I've tried to cut corners here and there to stretch my money further.
Some products I've learned not to skimp on are cheeses...especially parmesan and bleu! And, now, which seems rediculous to me, rice. I was using some walmart brand rice and it was turning out just awful! How could walmart f*** up rice!? I've genrally come to despise the walmart brand anything these days.
I'm learing to splurge on a few pricy ingredients, here and there, like good stock and wine, olive oil, spices, some fancier italian cut pastas, and better cuts of meat, then trying to go a more classic route with my dishes. Meaning learning to roast veggies to give them a lovely nutty taste, braising, more simple pastas with fewer ingredients, and herb oils. Been doing quite a bit with chimmichurri over grilled beef this summer.
Are there any ingredients you splurge on?? Something you can't live without, even if its pricy and feels a bit naughty to buy?
I remember the days of being a single girl on her own, having her own place downtown and working like a dog in a restaurant, cooking, prepping, waitressing...you name it, to get the bills paid. I think i maybe had $20 a week to spend on groceries(thankfully soups, salads, and breads were free to employees at the restaurant!) Needless to say, I ate A LOT of ramen and popcorn! Once a week would try to make actual food though.
I used to "splurge" every now and then and make my own version of chicken (i'm about to butcher some spelling folks) caccatori, It was divine for the time being! I would get a cut up whole chicken, 2 jars of tomato pasta sauce, some pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms, and celery, some wine if i had it, and throw it all in a pot and let it simmer for a few hours on low and in the last half hour, throw in a cup of orzo(i was essentually trying to replicate a braised lamb dish i'd had at a greek restaurant in chicago, of lamb shanks braised in tomato sauce with rosa marina). It was the best thing ever! The chicken would be so juicy and fall off the bones, the veggies were rich and sweet, and, best of all, my belly would be full and i would be eating well the following 2 nights.
Anyone else have some favorite foods from the struggling young foodie days?
I've always dodged fennel in cooking, fearing its anise flavor. I pretty much have only come to appreciate anise in christmas cookies. I've seen giada on food network blather on and on about how delicious it is, how it doesn't taste licorice-y once cooked, but instead sweet. I made a roasted chicken tonight in which the recipe called for a bulb of fennel (in effort to complete the recipe as written, as it had gotten a myriad of praises)chopped up with carrots and onions for the bird to be nestled in while roasting, i added fresh parsley also. I was leary of the questionable fennel. Once my bird was out of the oven I began to sample the veggies, fennel last, of course...dreading it. If I could kick myself in my butt hard enough for not trying fennel sooner i certainly would! It was amazing! I ended up picking all of the bits of fennel out of the roasting dish before the chicken was even ready to be carved. I also made braised celery, another first time trial. Its was also excellent. It was a pretty flippin' delicious night =)
It seems like lately there really aren't any primetime cooking shows left, that are just about cooking...not trying to out-cook someone else, anymore other than good eats. Once 6pm hits its almost all competitions and not really a whole lot else. I don't mind Diners, drive ins, and dives, at least you get to see some dishes you probably never would have on your own. Maybe I just haven't got the competitive spirit. A lot of the time when i'm watching food network during the day I end up wandering into the kitchen and trying to conjure up something similar to what i've just seen because i've been inspired. I wish that was something that carried on into the nighttime hours. Have been watching foodnetwork less and less these days.
Each time I've cooked brown rice lately it has turned out an awful, mushy mess. I'm not certain, but I think I may be cooking it on too low a temp(stuck using an electric stove, bleh) for too long. Any pointers? I love the flavor and healthful qualities of brown rice, It's really bumming me out that I just can't seem to get it right.
I fell madly in love with the basil pesto goat cheese cheesecake at restaurant near my home last fall....it came on an antipasti plate with soft french cheeses, salty italian salami slices, baby spinach leaves, walnuts, and a silky balsamic drizzle...sigh, so good! I tried to redproduce the cheesecake at home, using Alton Brown's savory cheesecake recipe, after tinkering with cream cheese to goat cheese ratios( as the AB recipe had no goat cheese in it- I used one third goat cheese). I added few generous tbsp pesto and made a crust from crumbled garlic bagel chips tossed with butter. The flavor was wonderful, extremely close to the restaurant's version....just not as smooth. I'm wondering if my cheese ratio was off or perhaps too much pesto? It definately wasn't over cooked. Any ideas?
I often buy a tiny tin of anchovies in oil when I make caesar dressing from scratch...but, in my house, I'm the only one who will use or eat them, my husband detests any form of marine life =( A lot of these little guys go bad in my fridge. Any budget-friendly ideas or recipes for simple dishes I can prepare for myself other than the usual punttanesca sauce???
I fell madly in love with the basil pesto goat cheese cheesecake at restaurant near my home last fall....it came on an antipasti plate with soft french cheeses, salty italian salami slices, baby spinach leaves, walnuts, and a silky balsamic...