Tips and tricks
to improve your cooking
and to bust some myths!
Books I’d buy again
Gordon Ramsay, Ultimate Cookery Course this book (& TV show) is the reason I started to cook, being bored on the weekends in Vaihingen. Recommended to me by my cousin; I remember I did the pork chops and thought wtf have I done. Many great recipes, totally worth to have and Ramsay is a pleasure to watch when he is not in the US.
Gordon Ramsay, Ultimate Home Cooking something ultimate again. Really, Gordon? Out four Ramsay's books I own this one is also worth to have, maybe not as good as the previous one, but still great.
Yotam Ottolenghi, Simple: A Cookbook I often tried Ottolenghi's stuff on the Guardian and finally decided for this book. A great style, a lot of Middle Eastern influences, loads of colours and taste, sometimes a bit complicated spices if you are not from London, ok?, but in general an excellent book which is missing a better list of contents.
Samin Nosrat, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking theory of cooking that finally confirmed meat and salt need time together. 200 pages of theory, a book you could study in a library. Remaining 235 pages include recipes with different variations. Excellent and creative illustrations!
Jacques Pépin, New Complete Techniques this is an encyclopaedia that could bring you to hospital if it falls on your head. Pépin includes everything you would learn in a good cooking school. Basics, advanced and things you will never do, impressive!
Things to visit online
BBC Good Food website and an app (play / apple), great for inspiration, hundreds and hundreds of interesting ideas, I suggest googling "BBC Good food <dish>" because they are straight to the point.
Serious Eats an American website with recipes and also a lot of other useful articles (like wood vs plastic cutting boards or how to clean the cast iron), google "seriouseats <any shit you wanna know>", pure quality, if only they would always use grams instead of cups!
Guardian Food website and an app, often great summary articles (like this, world’s best sandwiches) and fantastic recipes from different chefs.
J. Kenji López-Alt (YouTube) massively inspiring and authentic Kenji’s Cooking Show. I like his style of just popping a GoPro on his head and cooking, really shows you how it is not so important to follow recipes and be 100% organized; you also never need all the ingredients. What a nice chap, this Kenji.
Stephen Cusato (YouTube) Not Another Cooking Show has a great style of presenting recipes and selection of dishes; I did not ask, but Stephen probably has Italian roots and it shows. He helped me understand why my Cacio e Pepe is not as good as it should be.
Random facts and myths busted
Things I learned while reading and watching all of the above and more:
Pasta related 1. pasta water should as salty as the sea (S. Nosrat) 2. pasta needs to be rehydrated/simmered, usually no need for a rolling boil 3. finish cooking your pasta together with the sauce (take it out of the water 1-2 min before) 4. always reserve some pasta water to add to the sauce 5. keep the amount of pasta water at the minimum to increase the amount of starch building up; this will also make your sauce nicer 6. if possible get pasta pressed with bronze die, it will hold the sauce better (source 1, source 2)
- washing mushrooms is fine just before using (source 1, source 2)
- salting eggs before cooking does not tighten them up (source)
- burger patties should be salted as late as possible (source)
- to prevent avocado/guacamole from browning, cover it tightly with plastic wrap; adding avocado seed won’t help at all (source)
- avocados/apples/bananas will ripen faster if you keep them together and sealed off (source)
- measure your salt; meat 1.25% by weight, meat with bones 1.5% by weight, veggies 1% by weight, blanching or pasta 2% salinity, doughs and batters 2.5% by weight (salting guideline from S. Nosrat)
- perfect boiled eggs? 1. place in boiling water, half submerged, cover; 2. set a timer (click for a nice graphic); 3. cool down; 4. hit on both sides, roll gently (source)
- always dress your salad with emulsified vinaigrette (not separately adding oil and your acids) to prevent having a pool of acid at the bottom of your bowl (YT source, and an article)
- in winter always buy smaller tomatoes (eg. cherry) because they travel better and are picked riper (YT source)
(come back for more)