I’ve recently discovered The Kitchn’s free “Cooking School.” Although technically its “classes” took place over a year and a half ago, all of the lessons are still up there, and they are really useful!
I don’t really consider myself to be a “beginning” cook anymore– I’d say I’m at the beginner’s end of intermediate, if that makes sense. But I find the Kitchn’s articles to be really great at covering the fundamentals of cooking in a way that is fun and interesting. I always end up learning something that I didn’t know I didn’t know, if that makes sense.
Here are a few Kitchn posts that I think go really well together: about how onions, garlic & veggies often go together to form the base of meals, and the best and most efficient way to prepare them.
For the easiest chopping, start with Cooking School Day 1: Knife Skills. My roommate and I currently don’t have any super-sharp knives, which is somewhat annoying. Thanks to this article, I know what we should be aiming for in the knife-department.
Next, Cooking School Day 2: Onions & Garlic. Some basic info about the onion and garlic plants themselves.
We control the “bite” and overall flavor of onions and garlic in two ways: the size of the cut and the cooking time. Smaller bits of onion and garlic will melt into a dish, becoming a subtle presence that gently infuses the whole dish, while large slices will have a more dominant presence. Also, the longer you cook onions and garlic, the more their flavor goes from sharp and biting to sweet and unctuous.
Next, Cooking School Day 3: Vegetables. I love the common-sense, straight-forward tone of this article:
Vegetables are fairly logical things. Spend a few minutes looking at a new, unfamiliar vegetable, and you can probably figure out how you’re supposed to chop it up: Remove inedible bits like stems, seeds, cores, and rinds. Remove peels if they seem tough. When you’re down to just the edible parts, start paring it down to bite-sized pieces by first slicing the vegetable from top to bottom — usually through the stem or the root. From there, it’s a matter of continuing to cut the vegetable into smaller and smaller pieces.
The article makes the point that in order for vegetables to cook evenly, you want to make sure you cut it into pieces that are all somewhat the same size and thickness.
This is honestly kind of embarrassing, but I never really gave my vegetable piece “sizes” that much thought before. I used to just try to get through chopping as quickly as possible, stopping when things looked “close enough.” Now I realize it might be worth it to pay more attention, if only so it’s easier to cook the dish evenly later on..
Finally, How To Roast Any Vegetable: My favorite article in this post!!! Makes roasting seem so straight-forward and easy.
I usually use a mild olive oil when roasting vegetables, but you could also use coconut oil, avocado oil, or any other oil you like to use. Also, I usually toss the vegetables with my hands so I can rub the oil into the vegetables and make sure they’re evenly coated.
Last but not least, toss your vegetables with some salt. You can add black pepper or any other seasonings, as well. Again, be generous, but not excessive — add enough salt and other seasonings so that each piece of vegetable gets a little.
The article gives suggested cooking times for different categories of veggies. It also has cool combination suggestions, like putting beets, sweet potatoes, turnip, and fennel all together.
Definitely check these articles out!