Fixing the common mistakes most beginner cooks make

The rule in our house, whether the veggies were fresh, canned, or frozen, was “If you can eat 'em with a fork, they’re not done yet”.


This guy does a magnificent job on lightly steamed veggies, does great corn on the cob, makes the best rice I’ve tasted outside of an expensive dedicated rice cooker, and does a perfect, set it and forget it, hard boiled egg.

  1. Leave the gun.
  2. Take the cannoli.

Start with eggs, then move to soups, because once you master boiling water for eggs (after you tire of omelets and scrambled eggs and want to make deviled eggs) you can boil ingredients in water for soup!
And it’s also step two of learning flavors - how a bay leaf can elevate your beef stock, and how starting with mirepoix (it’s just sauteing some savories, like you would for an omelet filling) can stack on even more flavor.


This is how I learned!
I watched it on PBS & cooked along!

1 Like

That’s a really tough call.


How to Cook Everything is great. They converted the book into a great iOS app, but that unfortunately hasn’t been updated in a few years and will apparently soon be removed from my devices once iOS stops supporting 32-bit apps.


I love this format, because in cooking all the little unknown details are the essence of going from good to great. But for true beginners (who want to go from bad to good) I’d suggest a paired down list:

  1. Create a plan of attack
  2. Prep everything before putting the pan on the heat
  3. Control the heat of the pan
  4. Use an instant read meat thermometer
1 Like

Once again, an amazing looking app which cannot be run on the original iPad… only good from iOS6.1 and up. Grrr…


This requires deep black magic.


What I do is this:

  • preheated nonstick pan, butter. Either break the eggs right next to the surface or break into a small bowl first and then gently pour into the pan.
  • once they’re cooking, sprinkle a few drops of water into the pan and put the lid on. Let them cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. The steam will barely set the yolk.
  • turn gently and you should be okay.

I use crumpet rings for all kinds of griddle magic. Get a couple different sizes.

1 Like

That works for me for over-medium or over-hard. I have about a 10% success rate for over-easy.

I should probably just give up and bust out the kitchen torch.


I tend to agree with this but if making some kind of stew or sauce involving tomatoes, canned diced tomatoes are actually made from fresh tomatoes vs the unripened tomatoes you may get in the produce dept.

  1. it makes it much easier to do liquid volumes; 1 tbsp = 15 ml = 15 g.
  2. for dry volume, mass is always a better indicator of how much stuff you are getting. How much fresh spinach is actually in two cups? There’s no one answer and can vary hugely. 250 g of fresh spinach is unambiguous.
  3. if you can dump stuff into a tared-out bowl, you have fewer dishes to clean up.
  4. I also love it for recipes that have ratios; for example my cauliflower crust recipe starts with “take half of a cauliflower, boil the shit out of it, purée it and then take its mass. Add an equal mass of flower and knead into a dough.” It’s awesome because it doesn’t matter how much cauliflower I start with, the kitchen scale takes care of the rest.

Full disclosure; I also use measuring cups and spoons. I just feel that a kitchen scale is super useful.


Hilaire Belloc says:

Be content to remember that those who can make omelettes properly can do nothing else.


What I really want, omelet-wise, is this guy’s omurice. Watch it unfurl!


Never ask how the sausage gets made.


But vegetables boiled for at least a half hour are a cultural difference that is part of our rich tapestry of diversity.

Sorry - even mom couldn’t sell that one.


here is my list - at least for stir frys (from what I learned in a Chinese cooking course)

make sure all items are chopped in bite size pieces, both veggies and meat
and veggies should be triangular and pointy vs round for quicker heat penetration

pre-heat wok or pan before adding oil (and use an oil that doesn’t burn easily, like grapeseed
although my chinese chef teacher used peanut oil)

after oil added - and proper temperature is reached (ie. a drop of water starts spattering round)
add chopped garlic and ginger

give that a moment to start sizzling - when it starts to be come caramelized

add meat and stir- for a few mins, when the meat is nicely cooked and browned
move it to the edges and make room in the centre for veggies

then drop in the veggies, add a dollop of sauce (oyster, soy, whatever)
and half cup of water and then cover with lid.

because veggies in a stir fry are not actually fried they are steamed.

allow approx 5 mins and when you can see steam coming out from under lid
you can lift lid - mix and add some more sauce (which can be some soy, oyster, or 5spice blend and a touch of chili garlic sauce for heat - and tsp of starch to thicken

mix and ready to serve in a minute

the key thing is that veggies should be al dente and not overcooked.