T Nation

The Art of Cooking.

My thing is, I don’t cook for myself, and I know that is very lame. My biggest excuse is that, while I can follow a recipe, I HATE following directions. I am the type of person who likes to come up with my own stuff, mainly because I find it more fun.

So here is my question, do any of you know any great websites, books, or magazines that are centered around cooking. Much like this site is centered around Exercise and Nutrition.

I’m not looking for JUST recipes, but something that would give me the opportunity to get some real information that I could put to use in hopefully making up my own dishes.

I am going to do some research on my own, I just wanted to ask you guys, to see if you had any favorites.

[quote]SwampThing wrote:
My thing is, I don’t cook for myself, and I know that is very lame. My biggest excuse is that, while I can follow a recipe, I HATE following directions. I am the type of person who likes to come up with my own stuff, mainly because I find it more fun.

So here is my question, do any of you know any great websites, books, or magazines that are centered around cooking. Much like this site is centered around Exercise and Nutrition.

I’m not looking for JUST recipes, but something that would give me the opportunity to get some real information that I could put to use in hopefully making up my own dishes.

I am going to do some research on my own, I just wanted to ask you guys, to see if you had any favorites.[/quote]

The best general resource for ccooking that I’ve found is “Cooks Illustrated”. I started reading it when it first was published as a magazine (1994), and then I subscribed to they web site.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

Reading their articles you will learn more about the theory and practice of cooking than you will ever learn watching Rachel Ray.

I’m a chef and cook for a living, well not so much anymore, but I do come up with the recipes and supervise a 70 seat fine dinning restaurtant in Toronto. Everything is from scratch. If you really want to experience websites that have a vast knowledge of experience on all levels try

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=home

http://www.chef2chef.net/

awsome thanks guys.

[quote]Loose Tool wrote:
The best general resource for ccooking that I’ve found is “Cooks Illustrated”. I started reading it when it first was published as a magazine (1994), and then I subscribed to they web site.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

Reading their articles you will learn more about the theory and practice of cooking than you will ever learn watching Rachel Ray.

[/quote]
I gotta second this. I have a subscription, and all the back copies. It’s the best, bar none.

[quote]Loose Tool wrote:
The best general resource for ccooking that I’ve found is “Cooks Illustrated”. I started reading it when it first was published as a magazine (1994), and then I subscribed to they web site.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

Reading their articles you will learn more about the theory and practice of cooking than you will ever learn watching Rachel Ray.

[/quote]

Yes.

In a recent italian recipe, they explained their choice of cheeses in the dish based on how they melted at oven temperatures and influenced the overall consistency.

I was sold on the mag after reading a fudge recipe with a sidebar article wherein the author/cook claimed to have made over 1000 lbs of fudge while trying to get the recipe right.

This is in addition to the myriad equipment reviews they do, including those for the budget minded cook, as opposed to just telling you get All-Clad.

[quote]Loose Tool wrote:
The best general resource for ccooking that I’ve found is “Cooks Illustrated”. I started reading it when it first was published as a magazine (1994), and then I subscribed to they web site.

http://www.cooksillustrated.com/

Reading their articles you will learn more about the theory and practice of cooking than you will ever learn watching Rachel Ray.

[/quote]

I love that site…

Here’s another interesting one in the same vein:
http://www.cookingforengineers.com/

Explains a lot of the WHY behind cooking and how things work.

Once you understand the basics of how things work and certain things that work well as combinations, you can literally just go to the store and see what LOOKS good and combine it together to make something delicious and nutritious.

I know I write a lot of recipes here on this site and MWA site but, typically my recipes are just a list of ingredients. I just try to write directions and amounts for people that don’t really know how to cook.

Once you have mastered a METHOD like searing or saute or roast or braise you can just apply that method to any food you know works well. For example moist heat cooking like braising or stewing works well for tough cuts of meat with lots of connective tissue to break down for gelatin and tough or fibrous vegetables.

Dry heat cooking methods like Grilling, Broiling, saute work well for naturally tender meats and softer vegetables.

Combination cooking methods are used for more tender cuts also.

Poaching is great for tender filets if you want a nice subtle flavor imparted.

OK another great way to learn to cook is to get an all inclusive cook book like I highly recommend ‘The Professional Chef’ from the Culinary Institute of America. It includes several chapters on each cooking method, all different cuts of meat, fish, foul, vegetables etc. Then in the back there are tons of just classic recipes that utilize the different methods taught. You’d think I went to school there or something!

buy a crock pot and a crock pot cook book.

most crock pot recipes have two steps:

  1. put ingredients in crock pot
  2. turn crock pot on until cooked.

meat is actually really tender and good when cooked in a pot, you can cook tons of food at a time and store it in the fridge and they are relatively easy to clean. just one dish.

when i’m not bar - b - queing i live on my crock pot during the week. fortunately my gf enjoys cooking and does so on the weekends.

every wednesday this guy mark bittman writes a column in the nyt called “the minimalist”. the dishes are simple and the nice part about his writing is he gives good information and explains why he makes the choices he makes, rather than just telling you “do this”. everytime i read him i get a recipe, but i also get a few ideas of my own because of all the good info he gives.

here’s his current column with video:

Hello

I watch “foodtv.com” they have a variety of shows. A show called Good Eats usually does the science behind the cooking.

[quote]Chef Lisa Marie wrote:
Once you have mastered a METHOD like searing or saute or roast or braise you can just apply that method to any food you know works well. For example moist heat cooking like braising or stewing works well for tough cuts of meat with lots of connective tissue to break down for gelatin and tough or fibrous vegetables. [/quote]

A good book to learn the method is the redesigned and updated edition of previously out-of-print James Beard book The Theory and Practice of Good Cooking.

http://www.amazon.com/Beards-Practice-Cooking-Library-American/dp/0762406135

The original edition taught me how to saute, braise, boil, steam etc. well enought to get a job in a restaurant kitchen when I had no prior experience. I also claimed on the application that I had a genetic predisposition for cooking. There were a number of chefs father’s side (french) of the family. My father, on the other hand, never learned to boil water.

Thanks guys. I really loved the stuff on the theory and science of cooking.

I guess I have to approach this like I did weights. Read, practice, perfect.

This is a great idea for a thread.

I had a book called “how to cook without a book” (ironic I know)

wow when I look it up on amazon it tells me the day that I bought it, how weird.

Anyway, not a bad book.

But really, cooking is easy, heat pan, throw in things, when cooked, pull them out. If some cook faster than others then put them in and take them out earlier. Make sure chicken is 100% cooked. Don’t use ingredients you don’t like.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/ This a GREAT cooking site . They have at least 25,000 recipes that are all rated by people like us that made them . Plus they got Emeril , BAM !

I forsee a great deal of egomanical line-“chef” arguments arriving.

No , You must have us cooks confused with the steroid heads on this site . You know , the guys ready to snap into insanity because somebody said they liked celltech ! Thats a few forums down …

No that’s the idiots. Unfortunatly idiots are like cockroaches and adapt. They are everywhere.

[quote]Magarhe wrote:
This is a great idea for a thread.

I had a book called “how to cook without a book” (ironic I know)

wow when I look it up on amazon it tells me the day that I bought it, how weird.

Anyway, not a bad book.

But really, cooking is easy, heat pan, throw in things, when cooked, pull them out. If some cook faster than others then put them in and take them out earlier. Make sure chicken is 100% cooked. Don’t use ingredients you don’t like.[/quote]

I could say getting dressed in the morning is easy. Just insert your legs into your pants one at a time. Then insert your arms and head into your shirt one at a time. However it is OBVIOUSE that some people can dress better than others.

So yes while I can cook edible meals, that is not what I am looking for. Basically what I am looking for is being able to cook for people, and they talk about it afterwards. To give you an Idea of the level I want to be at.

Not only do I want to be able to cook things that people are used to eating. I also want to be able to make things that are foreign to the area I live in. Which means I have to extend some effort to reach out and learn how to make things, that none of my friends really know how to make.

[quote]SwampThing wrote:
I could say getting dressed in the morning is easy. Just insert your legs into your pants one at a time. Then insert your arms and head into your shirt one at a time. However it is OBVIOUSE that some people can dress better than others.

So yes while I can cook edible meals, that is not what I am looking for. Basically what I am looking for is being able to cook for people, and they talk about it afterwards. To give you an Idea of the level I want to be at.[/quote]

Another skill that will impress the hell out of folks is learn how to plate the food. Take a few seconds to arrange the food on the plate rather thank just dump a pile in the middle. Watching the food network will help with that skill.