Muppet’s guide to simple cooking terms and various ingredients:
If you want to have any success with your cooking career, you have to be very familiar with 3 things:
“Main ingredients”. What they are and how to cook each one.
Side dishes/accessory foods. What makes a good accessory food and what main ingredient each accessory can accompany.
Flavouring methods. This includes sauces, spices, marinades etc.
Part 1. Main ingredients.
I’m going to cover four basic meats, lamb, beef, pork and chicken.
When you cook lamb the general rule is the closer it is to the head the more time it needs. Neck pieces, for example, should be cooked longest (at least 3 hours, 4 and 5 better). The leg however needs much less time.
The better cuts of lamb can also be eaten bloody and still taste good.
I dont really have much experience with beef other then ground beef and nice steaks. With a steak, you can cook it as little as you like as long as you scorch the outside nicely. You should not, however, cook it very long. A steak should be bloody and will not be good otherwise.
Ground beef is usually fried until its no longer pink and then used. It can be put in “chili” type dishes or just eaten with some vegetables and sauce.
Pork should always be cooked all the way through. This is just in case of parasites (and remember, 1/6 members of this planet have pork-originated parasites and dont even know it). Ground pork can be used the same as ground beef, but has less flavour and more fat.
Chicken should also be cooked all the way through because it can be contanimated (can be, not nearly all chicken is). This can also be longer then you think. For example if you want to fry up a piece of chicken it will be at least 25minutes before you should even test it. And put the lid on the pan while you fry it and turn it over once in a while.
Part 2. Side dishes.
This includes vegetables, fruit, nuts and bread.
Mixing these is pretty easy. Generally, you can use any low or medium flavor vegetable with everything. You can use spinach, bell peppers, lettuce and such without much worry. Vegetables that are harder then most, like carrots or vegetables that have stronger flavours like onions and ruccola warrant more thought.
With ruccola you should be very careful not to use too much as it can easily ruin a salad, especially if your not used to it.
I dont like fresh carrots for a salad unless you grind it down. Using something sweet, like orange juice, is a good idea with carrots also.
When you use carrots along with other vegetables/ingredients in a cooked dish you should allow the carrots significantly more cooking time before you add all other vegetables. A few minutes at least until the carrot is tender depending on the size of the piece.
Because most fruits are sweet and have a definite taste you cant really throw them anywhere like veggies. If you use them in a salad you want to include only mild flavoured vegetables for best results. For example a great salad is spinach, strawberries and pine nuts (not sure I translate this one correctly…its that small soft “nut”)
As I mentioned, orange juice is good with certain kinds of salads, like those with ground carrots.
Nuts can be either fried up and tossed in a salad or ground for a chili dish. They are generally mild-tasting and can add texture to foods.
Part 3. Sauces and spices.
The ingredients in part 1 and 2 are the easiest to master. One only has to cook beef 3-4 times to know whats good and what isnt. Not so much with sauces and spices.
Its really important to just know some basic spice blends and some sauce bases and just really taste it around, adding whats missing after each taste.
A very simple spice blend can be chili powder, garlic powder, salt and ground pepper.
A bland like that is great with a mix of tomatoes, fresh onions and bell peppers. Just put the vegetables in blender until your desired consistency and add spices while cooking the blend. A low heat will do. What you get is pretty close to a “taco sauce”.
Pre-made spice blends are also very useful since they take the guesswork out of spiceing and don’t require much experience.
Part 4 - putting it all together.
Using what we know now, we decide to cook ground beef.
Most unsuccessful cooks fail with preperation. Have everything ready before anything gets hot. Cut the vegetables, make the sauce or get your spices ready. Lets say you decide to use a frozen vegetable blend and taco sauce. First make the sauce. Then fry the ground beef. Next, remove the beef from the pan and cook up the vegetable blend until hot. Then add sauce and meat and spice to your liking.
And thats my very short beginners intro to cooking stuff. This should make it a bit easier for you to follow recipes and handle simple ingredients.