Cooking for the Novice does not have to be difficult. When cooking most of the main ingredients of a meal. Most have the same basic additives or ingredients. In this article we will have a look at some of the required basic principals for cooking just about any dish.
I have been cooking food for approx 40 years, and can produce mediocre, passable and excellent meals, depending on my frame of mind, ingredients and motivation. I have found that most cooks tend to categorize their meals in the same way and it will be near on impossible to cook home meals every day of your life without sometimes or often producing just "filling the gap" meals.
The first steps to cooking often seems like a daunting task to the inexperienced cook. Watching all the TV Chefs can be intimidating to a beginner and create the feeling of being too complicated to try without guidance or assistance. There are a few basic ground rules involved in cooking that has not changed over the passing of time and getting to know these principles is the first step towards being successful in your kitchen, without stress.
In spite of new techniques and cooking methods, these guidelines have never failed, i.e. beef, lamb and chicken can all successfully be prepared with onion, tomato and garlic, safe meals, and by the adding wine, cream or yogurt, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and a few herbs can be turned into "wow!." Fish can impress without adding anything baring seasoning, because it has such a distinctive flavor and aroma, although by adding a few simple ingredients like wine and cream can become real "wow" meals. It is so gratifying to experiment and produce a tasty meal, all it needs is a bit of courage and a glass of fine wine for settling the nerves.
When you begin learning to cook get into the habit of smelling what you intend adding to your meat or vegetables. The stronger the aroma, the less you need to add to improve a simple dish. Garlic, pepper, herbs, soy sauce and wine or balsamic vinegar are very popular in cooking, but so often when used without restraint they can overpower whatever you are cooking. Rule of thumb is always, "less is better." It is simple to add a touch more than to try and hide the overuse of flavorings. Test your dish while it is cooking by smell, if one aroma comes across stronger than the rest, it is probably more then needed.
Another hint in cooking, don't cook anything you don't particularly like eating yourself. I have found that I cook the things I love eating far better than those my guests expect to have on an "impress" plate. In this category artichokes are top of my list, my palate rejects the flavor and I will avoid cooking it at all costs.
Each item, meat or vegetables, has its own distinctive favor. An beginner cook should concentrate on cooking them individually to maintain their own distinct favor rather than adding what does not always combine well. Personally I would rather eat carrots that taste of carrot instead of heavy wine and spices or herbs. Although some combinations can really produce a "wow" meal, it takes some experimenting to achieve if you are not cooking from a recipe.
Now to recap; onion, tomato and garlic form the basis of most meat dishes. The adding of herbs and spices should be determined by smell. Strong smell, use less. Taste and smell the dish while cooking. This gives a very good indication of the strength of your additives. And finally, stay with what you enjoy eating and by adding a little wine, cream or yogurt you can turn the dish into a "wow" dish and no longer be regarded as a novice when it comes to cooking for friends.