Question: Is cooking fun or does it feel like a job when you get in the kitchen?
The good news is I have something here today for both types of cooks that will help.
If you’re young looking to learn some key skills needed in the kitchen, or are you are the type of cook that hasn’t found their stride yet please allow me to help. My name is Chef Pennington, I live in Austin Texas, and I’m a Le Cordon Bleu trained Chef. I’ve cooked in fine dining restaurants and I'm a passionate foodie/cook that loves to keep learning about the culinary food world.
I believe there are a few skills I can help you with that you can master quickly.
Remember, everyone starts out somewhere in their cooking career. Believe it or not, most professional cooks weren’t naturally talented at cooking. A lot of them started out as dishwashers. Over time their interests grew for cooking and one day they got the chance to learn from the really Chefs. Today I'm inviting you into the kitchen as an inspiring Chef. I love educating others about food
(the key to cooking well??? is having good timing ), cooking proteins to the perfect doneness doesn't come easy, takes guidance and experience.
Lesson One: Preparation Before The Cook - "Mise en Place"
#1 Cooking is not a race to the finish line. Slow Down!
Successful cooks comes to learn the most important lesson of the kitchen. "Mise en Place", which means “things in place”.
If you need 1 cup of rice, you measure out one cup of rice before you start cooking.
If the recipe calls for half of an onion, then you cut up half of an onion before you start.
If you keep lesson one in action you will become a better cook very quickly.
Lesson Two-Timing Cooking in the Kitchen
Acquiring the skill of timing. Every cook has burned food before, and guess what, you’re going to burn food again. That’s just part of the experience. So don’t get mad at yourself. Just try to pay attention better next time. Did you have your food preparation done? ( Mise en place)
I want you to start thinking of cooking as a dance. Trying to move with grace and precision.
Like gliding across the floor. No jerky movements, having smooth transitions.
Sounds good uh? To master good timing in the kitchen, please refer to lesson one.
If you do not work to master lesson one you're missing out on the key to success. Preparation of your food is everything before you start to cook. So what does food preparation entail? aka food-prep
Here’s a simple list to consider when you begin Food-Prep.
How-To list of Cooking Tips in the kitchen doing Food-Prep and Cooking Timing
- Always place a towel under your cutting board. ? They slip at times when applying pressure and the cutting board can slip resulting in mistakes or injury. ?
- Have a garbage bowl close to your work area and cutting board. You do not want to be walking back and forth to the garbage doing food-prep. Your floors will get dirty, or wet, resulting in possible injury.
- It’s good to wear shoes or sandals or flip flops in the kitchen. Another safety thing.
- A sharp knife is a safe knife. When a knife gets dull and loses its edge the knife blade has very small jagged edges that get caught on your food. Non-sharp knives are pretty much tearing your food at this point.This is happening on a micro level your eyes cannot see, but most certainly is happening. You’ve probably seen Chefs using those long metal sticks and sharpening their knives on them. Those are called honing steels. Honing steels help you maintain the edge of the knife. They do not sharpen knives. With each pass of the knife on the honing steel, you are bending the steel back and forth. Just like shaping, not sharpening. When this isn’t done regularly the knife loses its edge.
- If you are making a new recipe be sure to read the recipe more than once. I suggest you cook the recipe in your head first before beginning. You can stand in front of the stove and pretend to cook the dish. I’ll tell y’all, I will still do this myself on something new I've never made before. If the recipe is unfamiliar to you this is a golden tip. I have done this before after my food-prep and remembered I forgot an ingredient. If I hadn’t pretended to cook the recipe before starting I would have messed up the timing and possibly the whole dish.
- Kitchen timing, over time, will become an instinct like trait. Think of cooking eggs. Sounds easy, can be easy, but not easy. Yet, after you cooked an omelet a few times on your stove at home. If I asked you how long it takes you to cook an omelet you’d have a pretty good answer. That is your enter Chef timer.⏲️ Just the fact you know how long that omelet took to cook shows you're able to do this. It’s like a feeling deep inside. Like when your cooking, watching the food change shape, changes textures, you can almost feel the food cooking. This cooking instinct exists in all of you. Now you know what it is and you can start to pay a little bit more attention and start building your library/ memory of how long foods cook.
- Cooking temperature - Cooking Timing - These words go hand and hand. Learning your stove is the key to success. Remember every stove cooks differently. If you can help it I suggest trying to stay away from using super high heat. There are only a few reasons to use full level heat. I suggest you keep it around medium-high. This will work for 80% to 90% of the food you cook.
- Timing - Oils & Butter - Ok, this one can be a tough one. This is where a number of mistakes happen. If the pan is too hot and you add your oil you can start a flash fire. If you do start a flash fire do NOT use water to put it out. You have 4 options and that’s it. 1) Cover the fire with a lid (fire can not exist without air oxygen. 2) Pour a ton of salt on the fire 3) Pour a bunch of baking soda on the fire. Use a fire extinguisher.
- Examples of Timing Using Oils & Butter
- Eggs = You can turn the heat on and add the oil or butter at the beginning. Once melted add the eggs at once. No waiting. If the pan gets too hot or you need to cook another round of eggs. Always rinse the pan off under cold water to take the heat off the pan. Then start over. Butter-n-Thyme Egg Cookery Course Here ( FREE)
- Steak = Heat a cast iron pan up first on medium-high to high heat. Do not take your eyes off the pan (.ie) do not leave the kitchen. Once the pan is hot. Finding out if the cast iron skillet is the correct heat level, place your hand close to the cast iron skillet right over the middle of the pan and say 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi 3 Mississippi. You should want to pull your hand away fast on 3. Perfect heat level. If too hot, rinse underwater to take the heat off. If you do rinse the pan, you need to allow the water to steam off before adding oil or the oil will spit in your face. Learn How To Sous Vide Steak
- Fish = Fish cooks on medium heat most of the time. Fish is delicate and overcooks easy. Here’s the technique: Use a nonstick pan, turn on the heat to medium. Use the 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi 3 Mississippi technique but you are looking to be able to count higher to 6 Mississippi. Now add in your oil plus butter. Butter has a low smoke point and will oxidize at high temperatures. Destroys the buttermilk solids and burns them. Gross flavor. When you add another oil to the butter it helps protect the butter from burning. The Chef tip to cooking fish is you start it on the stovetop on medium heat, sear the fish on both sides, just put a little color on each side. A short few minutes then place into a 375 oven for a few minutes until done. Learn how to salt crusted cook a Fish
- Resting Meats
- Food continues cooking once you remove it from the heat. It's like a storm is going on inside. You must let it rest to redistribute the juices. About 3-5 minutes usually.
- You must give food time to relax before you cut into it, or risk having dry, not moist cooked food.
- Example of Foods That "Continue" Cooking Once Off The Heat or Out of Oven
- Chicken (Learn to Roast The Perfect Chicken ( Here )
- Vegetables will continue to soften
- How To Season Pasta - Salt the water heavily, it should taste just like the ocean. Which is around 6% salinity. Very important or your pasta will have no taste other than the sauce you pair it with. Once the pasta is cooked you need to do something the Italians call "Marry the Pasta with the Sauce". You need to put the pasta into the sauce and coat the pasta. You can add some of the pasta water to adjust the thickness. The pasta water has starch in it and will add a small bit of body to the sauce.