I recently watched a webinar by a Trained Culinary Chef. He said the main difference between trained chefs and home cooks is that chefs are taught methods and home cooks usually use recipes. if you learn some of the basic cooking methods you can use them to make your own original recipes. I have learned some methods and techniques so a lot of days I look at what I have in the fridge and cupboards and can usually come up with a meal.
At one of my recent classes, we made banana chocolate smoothies using bananas, chocolate almond milk and ice, The students were asking if they could use regular chocolate milk or white milk with chocolate syrup. The next day, one said the night before he made the same thing using white milk and chocolate syrup.
The five methods discussed in the webinar were:
- Knife skills and cuts – Consider what you are making when determining what size to cut the vegetables and other items you are including. Also, try to cut the different items you are using the same size so they cook in the same amount of time.
- The 4 effects of heat on food. Home cooks generally start with a cool pan and allow it and the food to get hotter over time. Chefs start with a hot pan and work backwards. Cooking meat this way you brown it first and have more moisture inside. He also stressed the importance of using a thermometer so you are sure when your food is done.
- Sauce – Once you learn to make sauces, you will be able to make a variety of sauces and gravies. The most used thickening agent is a roux, by melting butter, adding flour and a liquid of your choice.
- Using herbs and spices – The difference between flavoring and seasoning is home cooks us too much flavoring. Flavoring is changing the flavor of food and seasoning enhancing flavor.
- Cooking formula – Cooking method + protein + aromatics + sauce + seasoning = your original recipe
Once you learn basic cooking methods you will be able to cook meals using items you have on hand such as stir frys, omelets, pasta dishes and more. By using things you have on hand, you can save money and reduce food waste.
Recently, I used crushed pretzels for a breading for chicken nuggets instead of bread crumbs.