How to become a great cook

For cooking beginner, I would love to share this article from Summer Tomato:

I have a confession to make: I don’t love to cook.

Sure I like the idea of cooking, and I’m glad that I can cook, but my idea of a perfect day rarely involves spending time in the kitchen.

What I really love is food.

I love to shop for ingredients and envision the delicious dishes I can make with them. I love the taste of fresh, ripe, seasonal produce from the farmers market. I love the way good food makes me feel. I love the knowledge that what I eat helps me thrive.

But cutting stuff up and putting it in a pan isn’t particularly fun for me, though I certainly enjoy the fruits of my labor.

For me cooking is a means to an end. I cook for my own health and happiness, and for whomever I happen to be sharing my time with at the moment.

This is enough for me.

I came to realize my lack of cooking passion over the past several weeks as I’ve watched my fellow food bloggers fret on Twitter over holiday meal plans, perfect cookies and fallen souffles. It became very obvious to me that I had no desire to entertain dozens of people or perfect the quintessential holiday recipe.

I’m proud of the food I make and it’s always important to me to do a good job (I love eating, remember), I just don’t have that extra drive that distinguishes a good cook from a true chef.

For some, cooking is a true passion–they adore being in the kitchen and everything it involves. These are my heroes. They are the brilliant chefs responsible for the exquisite food all over this wonderful city. They construct the fabulous recipes I count on when searching cookbooks and blogs for something new. They photograph the beautiful dishes that inspire me to try a little harder. Without passionate chefs we would not have spectacular food, and I am profoundly thankful for them.

But not all of us can be amazing cooks. Fortunately it isn’t necessary to be a Michelin-rated chef to make delicious food.

Simple, fresh cooking doesn’t require any special talent. It all starts with excellent ingredients and just a few basic techniques that anyone can master with practice.

The moral of the story is that you do not have to be a kitchen ninja (or even particularly enjoy cooking) to be able to feed yourself well on a daily basis. The most important step is getting in the habit of buying good-quality, seasonal food and learning the basic skills you need to whip up something you enjoy.

If you get in the habit of cooking for yourself, it will one day stop feeling like a big ordeal and become second nature. You’ll get faster at chopping, you won’t need to constantly check recipes and measure ingredients, and you’ll intuitively know when and in which order to add things to the pot. But all this takes practice, and if you don’t make a regular habit of cooking for yourself it will continue to be difficult.

The good news is once you are comfortable in the kitchen, more interesting and complex recipes start to sound appealing. This is not necessarily because you learned to love cooking, but simply because it is easier for you.

Once you’ve broken the proficiency barrier you open a world of different dishes and cuisines, unchaining yourself from repetitive stir fries and culinary boredom.

For the non-chef, this is the level of proficiency you want to achieve. You do not have to love cooking to enjoy making dinner. You just have to get beyond the point where you struggle with it. It really isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Source: How to become a great cook

Shun-sharp Cutting Edge Kitchen Stuff

Using the world class Shun knife is indeed a life changing experience and not just a marketing phrase, as I found out.

It is not often that the man in the kitchen is more interested in the knife in front of him than the sirloin steak on his cutting board, but it’s hard not to be when given the right an exceptional knife set to use as your weapon against the food in the cooking area.

The Shun knives can definitely be put down on one’s list of being the perfect wedding present for 2017, as well as the most suitable gift for anyone who works in a kitchen.

They say the Shun Premier utility knife used by many chefs, is folded over 32 times, and made from Damascus steel, before being finished with a class symmetrical walnut handle. The handle…. Oh the handle…. You know class when you can feel it!

The 9-piece set is indeed a sight to behold, for any knife loving connoisseur. Forged with precision in Japan by internationally-acclaimed blade manufacturer KAI, the set comes with a 2 1/2 inch bird’s beak knife, a 3 1/2  inch paring knife, a 6 inch chef’s knife, a 9 inch slicing knife, a 9 inch bread knife, plus a honing steel, kitchen shears and a superb bamboo storage block. All in all, this is knife heaven for any chef who is interested in the world of blades!

My motto during usage of the knives was that if the Shun can’t cut it, nothing else will.

To ensure a rust free ending, the Damascus look is used, with each blade covered with 33 layers of stainless steel. To be 100 percent safe, hand-washing of the knives after use is recommended.

While the 8 inch Shun Premier Chefs Knife ranges from around US$400 to the 9-piece set at around US$900, the purchased product is well worth the outlay of cash. With a Shun product you can’t go wrong and I have heard that few people seem to have complaints about the knives, hence the limited lifetime guarantee is often stored in the kitchen drawer for eternity.

A point of warning! Keep your fingers out of the way. The Shun knives does its job to the best of its ability, be it steak, fish or vegetables.

Awesome products by an awesome company!

Skills every cook should know

Technique 1: Slow Roast

This hands-off method (the oven does the work) gets the most flavor out of vegetables and ensures an even, fork-tender finish on a large cut of meat. (Fast, high heat can dry out the edges before the center is cooked.) You’ll need time, but slow roasting can transform tough ingredients. Take tomatoes: Even not-so-great ones become irresistible as the low heat slowly removes water and concentrates their flavor. They’re excellent in a simple pasta salad or served with ricotta on crusty bread or toasted baguette slices.

Technique 3: Sear

A crisp, golden brown exterior on meat or fish signals deep, savory flavor—and looks pretty, too. Start by patting down the meat or fish with a paper towel. (Moisture creates steam, which hinders browning.) Next, preheat the pan over high heat, then add the oil. When the oil is shimmering and hot, add the meat and let it cook unbothered. It’s ready to flip when a corner lifts easily from the pan. If it sticks or tugs, give it a minute or so more. Thin cuts (like the chicken shown here) can be cooked completely on the stovetop. Thicker cuts (like steak) need to be transferred to the oven, either in the skillet or on a sheet tray, to cook to a rosy medium-rare.

Learn more technique here.