Friday, June 5, 2009

Cooking School at Home

I'm writing because I can't sleep and I'm anxious.  Jennifer, thankfully, is has been mercifully drugged by her night nurse and I'm sitting here trying to find things to take my mind off reality.  Lately I've been contemplating ways to improve my overall skills in the kitchen.  Apart from going to culinary school, there simply aren't many resources out there that aren't basic recipe books.  I'm tempted to work through a techniques book, page by page to accomplish these things and hopefully have some fun.  My initial thought would be to work through Jacques' book, but I also found this website that teaches fundamental and is linked to podcasts.  What do you guys think?  My other thought would be to work through Ratio, but that isn't as much about technique as it is an understanding the essence of a food.


MAB said...

Culinary school, in my opinion, would take the fun out of cooking, since the intent is to learn the techniques and be able to repeat them without thinking, and also be exceptional at cooking almost everything. Ruhlman's book "The Making of a Chef" is a great guide to the stress and difficulty of culinary school - which I know we have all read and enjoyed.

I think for guys like us, the best bet is to cook through a book like Pepin's, and use Ruhlman's "Ratio" and "Elements of Cooking" in combination with it to get better.

It seems to me that there is little reward in completing a class at the CIA or online when you can do something like Blymire did on FLH, and share your accomplishments with your family and friends, while learning a great deal from the success and failure of new recipes and techniques.

JW said...

There was an old episode of Pepin's "Fast Food My Way" on PBS here a few mornings ago. During the recorded live 20 minute broadcast, Pepin made 5 dishes, including prep, that each would have taken me ~ 30 minutes. He paused to take a sip of wine and commented, "The reason I'm able to do so much in so little time, is that I've perfected the techniques so that I never think about what I'm doing, I'm 100% focused on the ingredients and the final product. (drinks a huge glug of red wine) Bon Apetit!"

OG said...

You already have a day job! I agree with MAB that there are enough resources in books and internet to help you get wherever you want to be. Set a goal and achieve it, learn variations, etc. Also, I bet you can take destination vacations with a week's worth of cooking instruction. Whenever you want to go to NYC, SF, Paris, Shanghai, Bangkok, or Naples, let me know!

JW said...

I think I've decided to work through the sections of Ratio. This morning I made some blueberry muffins, in literally 5 minutes without a recipe and I was amazed at how different the batter was from a pancake batter. The only difference being the addition of sugar and more fat. These "experiments" may take some time to unfold on the blog, but I think will be informative and fun.