A couple of you have asked me where to start with home cooking. This series on basic tips and skills will be geared towards the 20-somethings of the world that are tired of eating ramen with marinara sauce. We will start slow and build on the skills we learn each week so be sure to watch this spot on Mondays.
There is a golden rule to cooking that every “janky home cook” should know. Even if you don’t know what you’re making when you start, this is a simple footpath for you to follow as you pull things out of your fridge and cabinets:
“If it smells like it goes together, it probably does.”
This is a simple and straightforward place to start. For instance, if you’re wanting to use cumin but want more depth: smell it. You’ll smell the warmth and depending what kind of cuisine you’re craving, you could then reach for the dried onion, garlic, and cayenne or maybe ginger, cardamom, and turmeric.
If all of this is still terrifying to you, remember to add ingredients slowly. If you end up not liking the pairing, generally you can “fix” it. A fantastic resource is the cookbook, The Flavor Bible. You guessed it – a book about flavors.
It’s basically an encyclopedia for ingredients. Choose an ingredient and find pages of flavors and other ingredients that pair well with it, as well as chef recommendations for dishes. Any time I’m feeling uninspired (read: lazy), I will look what I have in my fridge and then look what directions the book is offering me.
The other thing that I really want to touch on before I sign off of here is more of a safety thing. I jokingly earned the nickname “Safety Sarah,” in culinary school. No I’m not kidding, but God I wish I was. Pretty much anything you’re going to be cooking will require a cutting board. It is so important to secure the cutting board to your counter because it can slide and cause you to cut yourself with your knife. Or worse, throw your food all over the floor.
How does one secure a cutting board? If you’re my sweet, literal husband, you may be reaching for your tools, but there is a fast and easy way to do it. I’m about to blow your mind:
Get a wet paper towel, ring it out, and put it underneath the cutting board, pressing gently to ensure that it won’t slide on your counter.
If you’re skeptical, humor me. I promise you can feel the difference and your fingers will thank you.
Next week we will talk about some basic knife skills and how to make clarified and fortified butters.