For some people, cooking a meal is as easy and effortless as a walk in the park. But for others, even frying an egg may seem like a hike up Mount Everest. Designed for everyone who feels clueless in the kitchen, Your Time to Cook is a true “first” cookbook, packed with important kitchen essentials and cooking fundamentals—as well as a collection of basic, easy-to-prepare recipes.
Kicking off the book is an introduction to kitchen gadgets and gizmos, essential guidelines for stocking the pantry, and a review of common cooking terms and food-preparation techniques. Hundreds of magnificent full-color photos help make the information clear and accessible—whether it is a description of how to chop an onion, scramble an egg, cook the perfect steak, or brew the best cup of coffee. Over 250 foolproof recipes include everything from breakfast favorites and party appetizers to hearty soups, salads, veggie side dishes, pastas, and seafood, as well as chicken, beef, pork, and lamb dishes. There is also a dessert chapter that’s packed with your favorite sweet treats. To further ensure successful results, photos accompany each recipe’s step-by-step directions, while practical tips and “tricks” make sure that each meal is not only picture perfect, but also perfectly delicious.
Whether you are a newlywed struggling in your first kitchen, a single out on your own, or just someone who’d like to gain more confidence in the kitchen, Your Time to Cook is your key to cooking success.
1. Welcome to Your Kitchen, 00
2. Stocking the Pantry, 00
3. Terms and Techniques, 00
4. That’s Entertainment, 00
Recipes for Love
5. I Love Breakfast, 00
6. Bottoms Up!, 00
7. Appeteasers, 00
8. You’re My Hero, 000
9. Salad Days, 000
10. In Hot Soup, 000
11. Simple Sides, 000
12. Pasta . . . That’s Amore!, 000
13. A Little Fishy, 000
14. Chicken Tonight, 000
15. What’s Your Beef?, 000
16. Pigs ’n Lambs, 000
17. Holiday Feast, 00
18. Just Desserts, 000
Metric Conversion Charts, 000
Before You Cook, Read This
Before You Cook,
To help ensure that your cooking experience is an enjoyable one, especially if you’re a novice in the kitchen, keep the following recommendations in mind:
Keep it clean
After preparing and enjoying a delicious meal, the last thing you’ll want to face is a huge kitchen cleanup. But it doesn’t have to be that way. While preparing a recipe, try to “clean as you go.” Put away utensils and ingredients after using them—put dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher, dry goods back in the pantry, and fresh items back in the fridge.
During any breaks in the preparation—while the soup is simmering or the cake is baking try to clean up as much of the kitchen as you can, especially before serving. No matter how delicious the food is, a big mess in the kitchen can take the fun out of cooking. So try not to let it get out of hand.
It’s also important to clean dirty dishes and utensils as soon as possible. The longer the food remains, the harder it becomes to remove. If, however, the pot, pan, or casserole dish has a difficult-to-clean baked-on mess (from long oven-roasting, for instance), presoaking it in hot soapy water is recommended before you attempt to clean it.
Many people who say they cannot cook simply don’t pay attention to what they’re doing. Unless you are simmering a pot of soup or stew, cooking on a stovetop requires constant attention. Food that is cooked on the grill must be checked every few minutes. And baked goods should be checked a few minutes before the recipe’s recommended cooking time, and then every minute or so until ready.
Give it a taste test
When you prepare a recipe, especially for the first time, let your taste buds test the dish before you serve it. Even if you have followed a recipe exactly as written and the dish looks and smells good, you might find—depending on your personal likes and dislikes—that it needs something more. You may, for example, find the food to be bland for your taste, so a pinch of salt or some other seasoning or herb may be needed. But no matter what you add, be sure to do so a little at a time. You can always put in more, but once you have added too much, the dish can be doomed.
Use the suggested testing
methods for doneness
Cooking times for most foods will vary depending on a few factors, including the type of oven and/or stovetop that are used, and even the altitude in which you live. For this reason, cooking times are approximate, not exact. Along with estimated cooking times, this book also includes recommended tests for doneness. For instance, you’ll know that a cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For roasts and large fowl, a meat thermometer, which reads internal temperature, will indicate doneness. And pasta is ready when it is soft yet firm to the bite. Many other methods for testing doneness are presented for all of the different foods found in this book.
Follow baking directions
Here is an important culinary fact—cooking is different from baking. With cooking, you can usually alter a recipe (throw an extra clove of garlic in the soup, add more salt to the casserole) and still have it come out great. Baking, however, is more like chemistry. In order to ensure successful results, you have to measure the ingredients and follow the preparation methods exactly as written.
Take care in your
I typically design my recipes to produce dishes that not only taste delicious, but also look delicious. Always take time to organize and present your food. Don’t just fling it in a bowl (like the “slop on the gruel” technique you’ve seen in prison movies) or thoughtlessly dump it onto a platter. And consider adding a garnish or other finishing touch to give your delicious food even greater visual appeal. Keep in mind that when food looks good, it is always more appetizing.
Cooking should be enjoyable. Once you understand cooking basics, feel free to use any of the recipes in this book as starting points—springboards to which you can add your own creative touches. And most important, remember to have fun. Revel in your successes and learn from (and laugh at) your mistakes.