Learning how to prepare and cook can be quite an onerous task. Where do you find information on the ingredients required, how to prepare them, what to cook and how to cook?
There are many ways to learn such as reading cookery books, enrolling on a cookery course or working as an apprentice chef.
Cookery books mainly contain recipes and do not go into detail of how to prepare and cook. Enrolling on a cookery course can be expensive, requires commitment and travel. Working as an apprentice chef can be a bit drastic, unless the end result is to work in the catering world.
One of the best methods is to use is a well-structured video course. The trouble with the majority of video courses is that they are not well-structured; they do not start with the basics and progress to the more advanced subjects.
There are 12 things that you should expect from a how to prepare and cook video course.
1. Knife skills
One of the most important areas to master before progressing to following recipes and cookery is the correct use of knives. There are several health and safety aspects to consider before handling knives. When carrying knives, they must be pointing downwards towards the floor. Always ensure a knife is sharp. If a knife is blunt, it requires more pressure to cut items, which could result in an accident. When passing a knife to another person, hold the knife by the metal ridge opposite the blade and offer the handle to the person. Never catch a falling knife is also worth remembering. Knowing how to sharpen knives is important as is understanding that there are different knives for different tasks, for example, peeling, chopping, slicing, boning and dicing.
2. Food safety
Food poisoning is a major problem if ingredients are not handled carefully. One of the biggest causes of food poisoning is the incorrect handling of raw meat. All raw meat, especially poultry, contains pathogens, bacteria that cause illness and can kill. If raw meat is handled, hands must be washed vigorously with soap and water. If knives are used to cut raw meat, they must be cleaned with a detergent and disinfected with boiling water. If a knife is used to prepare raw poultry and subsequently used to cut sandwiches, for example, without being cleaned and disinfected, then cross-contamination and food poisoning will result.
3. Kitchen equipment
After knife skills, other types of kitchen equipment must be introduced and demonstrated. Various implements used in how to prepare and cook include: oyster openers, garnishing tools, olive-stoners, tenderising mallets, melon-ballers, sieves and ladles, pineapple and apple corers, mandolins, zesters, potato ricers and garlic presses.
4. Ingredient preparation
Preparation of all types of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs, pasta and rice must be demonstrated. All common vegetables including carrots, leeks, onions, celery, potatoes, brassicas and pulses would be included and the less common vegetables and salad items. The preparation of fruits, common and exotic, would also be shown.
5. Different methods of cookery
There are many different methods of cooking ingredients such as poaching, boiling, stewing, steaming, braising, baking, roasting, pot roasting, tandoori cooking, grilling/broiling, shallow and deep frying, en papillotte, microwave, griddle, microwave and combination cookery.
6. Stocks, sauces and soups
Meat and vegetable stocks are the foundation of all sauce and soup recipes. The main ingredients of a stock should be shown, prepared and cooked. Progression would be making different sauces and soups from the made stocks. All main categories of soups must be shown including: clear soups, broths, purees, veloutes, creams, bisques and miscellaneous potages. Hot and cold sauces, gravies and oils, compound butters and salsas would also be included.
7. Egg dishes
Eggs are so versatile and must be include within the how to prepare and cook video course. Boiled, fried, poached, coddled and scrambled are all firm favourites. Other less common dishes should also be included for example, curried eggs, frittata, Spanish omelette and eggs Benedict to name just a few.
8. Meat, game and fish meals
All types of red and white meat cuts must be prepared and featured in a meal such as beef, pork, lamb, poultry, venison, pheasant and grouse. Different species of fish, both white and oily, must be introduced, prepared and cooked.
9. International cuisine
With the increase in travel and the importation of more exotic ingredients, a how to prepare and cook video course must include different international recipe dishes. Examples of the different types of cuisine include: USA, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Spanish, Israeli Kosher, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Japanese, Indian, Indonesian, Chinese, European and Caribbean.
10. Potato, pulse, rice and pasta food
For vegetarian and vegan dishes, recipes using pasta, rice, pulses and potatoes should be featured. Potatoes can be boiled, mashed, baked and fried. Pulses such as haricot beans, soya beans, black-eyed peas, mung beans and alfalfa provide interesting and varied meals from hot foods to salads. Pasta comes in many different forms, both fresh and dried, but nothing tastes better than homemade pasta with a freshly prepared sauce. Rice can be boiled, steamed and baked. Rice can be used in a dessert, risotto or paella.
11. Pastries, desserts and buffet items
No how to prepare and cook course would be complete without pastries and desserts, especially for anybody with a sweet tooth! Other flour based products would also be helpful, for example, homemade bread, cakes, biscuits and savoury pastries.
12. Feedback and comments
It is all very well being shown how to prepare and cook food, but what if somebody has a question or wants a particular food item or recipe to be shown on the course. It is imperative, therefore, that there is a facility to leave feedback and comments.
It is very important to ensure any how to prepare and cook course contains at least 12 major areas as a minimum. The twelve items are:
- Knife skills
- Food safety
- Kitchen equipment
- Preparation of vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs, pasta, rice
- Different methods of cookery
- Stocks, sauces and soups
- Egg dishes
- Meat, game and fish meals
- International cuisine
- Potato, pulse, rice and pasta food
- Pastries desserts and buffet items
- Feedback and comments