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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Cooking (Absolute Beginner's Guides)by Deb Roussou
We live in a time when culinary awareness has become commonplace. An entire television network dedicated to cooking, and mid-priced bistros serving haute cuisine, have introduced good food to the average Joe. With global products available at the local grocery store, there is no reason why you can't create great tasting meals in your own kitchen—this is actually much easier than you think! A desire to eat and a willingness to try new things are the only requirements you need to get started!
Cooking is a simple combination of food, equipment, and techniques that does not need to be complicated, intimidating, or terribly time-consuming. The first part of this book introduces you to these components in a reference format. The recipe chapters are lessons that give you the opportunity to practice the techniques and prepare the food.
This book is recipe-based, and is organized to maximize cooking and minimize reading. The cooking lessons are the recipes themselves, each with detailed steps to teach you the absolute basics of the culinary arts. For example, learning about the process of poaching is necessary; but actually poaching salmon, or artichokes, creates a memory that can be recalled the next time you need to poach a food. At the end of each recipe where you've learned how to poach, steam, or bake, you will have a completed dish to enjoy.
How This Book Is Organized
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Cooking takes you through the fundamentals: tells you what you need to get started, describes all cooking terms and techniques, and provides tips that will help you get meals on the table in the minimum amount of time with maximum efficiency. By the time you finish the first four chapters, you will be ready to use all the great recipes included in this book.
Chapter 1: Cookware and Tool Essentials
Included in this chapter is a suggested short list of essential kitchen cookware and tools that will be adequate to get started. Purchasing cookware can be daunting, so we have provided some basic guidelines to follow while shopping. It is best to start small and add items as you discover that you cannot live without them.
Chapter 2: Food Essentials for Your Pantry
This chapter includes suggestions and recommendations for food pantry items and refrigerated/freezer foods that are frequently used. Having these foods on hand will reduce unnecessary trips to the store for small items such as a box of baking soda. I've also included a Basic Cheese Chart for your information and reference. You can create your own style of seasoning suited to your tastes with the help of the handy Herb and Spice Chart and Spice Blends Chart. These charts are quick and easy references for flavors, characteristics, and use of your basic food pantry essentials.
Chapter 3: Glossary of Terms and Techniques, Conversions and Equivalents
The glossary includes detailed explanations of cooking terms and techniques used in the recipes. Terms such as dicing are explained along with detailed food-specific instructions (dicing an onion, for example). This section also includes a Weight and Measurement Conversions list, and a Food Yield Equivalents Chart, both valuable reference tools. It is not necessary to read this book start to finish. You may find a recipe you like, so jump right in, and use the glossary for further explanations of any recipe steps you may not understand.
Chapter 4: Getting a Meal on the Table
Full of helpful tips on how to plan a menu, choose and read a recipe, and shop for food, this chapter will assist you with the organization of cooking. The ultimate goal is to have a complete meal on the table with a minimum amount of time, money, and frustration. This chapter is your guide to actually making that happen!
The Recipe Chapters
Each recipe chapter contains easy-to-follow preparation and cooking instructions. Some chapters also include handy reference charts that are particular to the foods included in the chapter. You can learn how to separate an egg in Chapter 5, "Eggs and Other Breakfast Fare," as well as how to make yummy omelets using those eggs. In Chapter 9, "Meat—Beef, Pork, and Lamb," you will find Meat Roasting Charts, as well as instructions on how to use a meat thermometer. There is a Vegetable Steaming Chart located in Chapter 13, "Side Dishes—Vegetables and Potatoes."
Whether you have depleted your trust fund or are just sick of fast food, sooner or later you will have to put a pan to the stove and cook something. Remember, learning to cook should be fun, not a chore. The payoff is a fantastic meal you created yourself. So keep it simple and enjoy the process. Bon appétit!
How to Use This Book
You will find several special elements in this book designed to help you better understand the text: notes, tips, and cautions.
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