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The Beginner’s Guide to Cooking

By Yann, published on 19/07/2018 We Love Prof > Arts and Hobbies > Cooking > Cooking Guide for Beginners

“Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.” – Julia Child

Cooking is synonymous with sharing, well-being, and happiness. According to a study carried out by the University of Otago in New Zealand, participants felt happier, more complete, relaxed, and energetic the day after a creative activity such as cooking.

Just like improving your health by eating less salt, sugar, and fat (and avoiding ready meals altogether), you can improve your mental wellbeing.

So are you ready to try out this new way to be happy?

Here’s Superprof’s quick cooking guide.

What Do You Need to Cook?

Before you get started with simple or complicated recipes, you’ll need to know what to stock your cupboards with. There’s no need to have tonnes of specialised utensils in order to create gourmet dishes.

It doesn’t matter whether you need help with cooking techniques like grilling, roasting, searing, and frying, cooking times and doneness, seasoning, or different cuts of meat, you first need to get the right equipment in your kitchen before you learn how to cook.

What do you need to learn how to cook? Using the right utensils and equipment can make all the difference. (Source: Einladung_zum_Essen)

Not everyone has a kitchen like they do on Masterchef, to be fair, so here’s a list of essential utensils and accessories for learning to cook:

  • A cheap peeler for fruits and vegetables (mango, cucumber, squash, sweet potato, etc.)
  • A good knife for cutting carrots, aubergines, and herbs.
  • A chopping board because you wouldn’t want to wreck your bench
  • A small pot and a large pot for cooking things like pasta and sauces.
  • A wooden spoon and spatula so that you don’t scratch the insides of your pots and pans.
  • Lids and covers so that sauces don’t bubble onto surfaces and for stewing.
  • A good pan made of either ceramic, stainless steel, or copper stone.
  • A dish for using in the oven. You can use this for doing gratins, baking fruits and vegetables, etc.
  • A fine sieve for rice, pasta, without having to resort to the sink.
  • A measuring glass and kitchen scales. If you’re good at baking, you’ll know that you have to measure everything carefully in order to get it right.
  • A whisk or beater for beating eggs to make mayonnaise, for example.
  • A couple of salad bowls for mixing and preparing cakes.
  • A pie or cake tin. When making pies or chocolate cakes, for example, these are essential.

Don’t forget a ladle if you’re making soup and broth in the winter. With these utensils, you can make a huge range of different dishes from the best chefs.

What Ingredients Do You Need to Start Cooking?

Once you’ve got your utensils ready, you’ll need to start thinking about the essential ingredients you should keep in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer. It’s a good idea to always have these on hand.

How do you host a dinner for your friends? A few drinks with friends could turn into a swanky dinner. (Source: Free-Photos)

Whether you’re throwing together few snacks, desserts for a party, or Sunday winner with the in-laws, here are the basic ingredients you should always have in stock.

For pre-dinner snacks/drinks:

  • Fruit Juice and soft drinks
  • Ice cubes
  • Olives
  • Crisps, salted snacks, biscuits
  • Jars of sauces (pesto, Bolognese, etc.) and puff pastry.
  • Canned sardines or tuna
  • Sliced bread
  • Ingredients for everyday dishes
  • Herbs and spices: thyme, coriander, curry powder, cumin, parsley, etc.
  • Olive oil, vinegar, and mustard for making vinaigrette.
  • Pureed tomatoes
  • Pasta, rice, and legumes (couscous, quinoa, lentils, etc.)
  • Onions, garlic, shallots
  • Milk
  • Cartons of cooking cream
  • Stock (and vegetable stock for vegetarians)
  • Grated cheese

For desserts:

  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Cereals
  • Flour
  • Sugar
  • Yeast
  • Vanilla ice cream

Of course, you need to buy other ingredients to go with these but if you stock up with these, you’ll have what you need to make the majority of quick and easy recipes.

A Few Simple Recipes

Are you looking for a few simple recipes you can impress your friends with?

You’ve come to the right place!

Smoked Salmon Verrines

These delightful looking dishes make great hors-d’oeuvres and don’t need to be cooked. They’re great for an impromptu couple of drinks and snacks.

How do you make blinis? A few blinis with cream cheese, dill, and salmon. (Source: PublicDomainPictures)

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Budget per person: £3

Ingredients:

  • 150g of smoked salmon
  • 200g of whipped fromage frais
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 2 sprigs of dill
  • Salt and pepper

Recipe for serving four people:

  • Mix the fromage frais and lemon juice in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Wash and cut the sprigs of dill. Keep 6 cuttings to one side for decorating later and add the rest to the mix.
  • Slice the smoked salmon into small pieces and add to the mix.
  • Fill the glasses and decorate with the dill.

If you don’t have suitable glassware, you can always put them on blinis.

Aubergine Lasagna

This is a great recipe and is suitable for vegetarians. It’s also useful that you don’t need to constantly monitor it while it’s cooking. However, you should check on it intermittently.

Preparation time: 40 minutes.

Cooking time: 1 hour.

Budget per person: Around £2.50

Ingredients:

  • 4 aubergines
  • 8 lasagna sheets
  • 500g of pureed tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 25g of butter
  • 25g of flour
  • 500ml of stock
  • 50g of parmesan
  • 150g of comté cheese
  • Olive oil

Recipe for serving four people:

  • Peel the aubergines and cut them into fine slices.
  • Grill the aubergines with a bit of olive oil before placing them onto some absorbent paper.
  • To make the sauce, melt butter in a pan and add flour. Then slowly add the pureed tomatoes.
  • Peel and dice the carrot. Finely chop the onion and add to the sauce. Add pepper and let it stew for 30 minutes.
  • In an oven dish, add a bit of the sauce, add a lasagna sheet, then add some sliced aubergine. Add salt, pepper, parmesan, and comté cheese. Repeat this step three times.
  • Bake for 50 minutes at 210°C.

Apple Tart

This is a delicious and nostalgic dessert. It can be made really quickly and everyone will be wanting seconds!

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 25 minutes.

Budget per person: £1.50

Ingredients:

  • 2 normal apples.
  • 70g of flour.
  • 1 vanilla pod.
  • 50ml of milk
  • 60g of sugar
  • 20ml oil
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1/2 sachet of yeast/baking powder.

Recipe for serving four people:

  • Mix the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
  • Add oil, milk, and the egg and mix well.
  • Pour the mix into a dish that’s been buttered and floured.
  • Peel the apples and cut them into slices.
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 180°C.

You should also consider getting a cookbook on easy-to-make meals for beginners. There are also plenty of culinary websites with the best way to cook simple and cheap meals. No more leftovers for you!

Inspiring Cooking Quotes

Do you need some inspiration or just something to put on the wall of your kitchen?

Which are the best cooking quotes? Meals are a great time to talk to friends and family. (Source: JerzyGorecki)

Here are some of the best quotes about cooking and food in general:

  • “One cannot think well, love well and sleep well if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
  • “People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child
  • “You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” – Paul Prudhomme
  • “Laughter is brightest in the place where the food is.” – Irish Proverb
  • “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” – Oscar Wilde
  • “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard
  • “You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  • “The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” – Mark Twain

Which is your favourite? Which one inspires you to start cooking?

Important Vocabulary

Cooking vocabulary is as wide and varied as cooking and it can make you feel a bit lost when you first start. That’s why it’s important to learn some important terms so you don’t get confused. We’ve got a few explanations of important terms in a number of our articles on cooking so make sure you read them all!

Deseed

This means removing the seeds of certain fruits and vegetables. It’s always much nicer biting into a juicy piece of fruit without having to worry about the seeds. However, if you’ve had seedless grapes, you’ll be aware that you can now buy a lot of different fruits and vegetables without having to worry about seeds or stones.

Lumps

We usually talk about lumps when making dough. You’ll get lumps if you don’t carefully mix or prepare your dough. A good dough will have the same consistency throughout. Lumps can negatively affect the cooking process.

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