Teaching Techniques and Food Comb
I am trying to find -- with surprising difficulty -- a specific kind of cooking instruction.
I am looking for a cooking "how to" book or website that teaches different techniques (e.g., braising), the types of foods to which to apply these techniques, and simple variations necessary for the various foods.
I would like to see things like a discussion of mirepoix (french) and its variants for regional ethnic cooking -- e.g., sofrito, the holy trinity, etc.
I would like to see what ingredients lend ethic influences (sherry, soy and ginger for Chinese, lime for Mexican and Thai, why chili and curry taste similarly, etc.).
I would like to see what foods go with other foods when constructing a dish or a menu. (Apples and rosemary with pork, sage with poultry, etc.).
In short, I would like to see something that will enable one to cook what's available well, to put together one's own recipes and menus, and not be bound by books (and even shows) that are recipe, recipe, recipe.
I want something that would help me become a creative -- and good -- cook at home. No commercial equipment or processes -- no robocoup, no sous vide, no salamanders, no cooktop that is as hot as the sun's surface. Just down-to-earth home-based cooking.
"Cooking Basics For Dummies" http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Basics-Dummies/dp/0470913886/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326828303&sr=1-1 has a suprisingly good section on the techniques of cooking with definitions and detailed discussion.
"How to Cook Without a Book: Recipes and Techniques Every Cook Should Know by Heart "
http://www.amazon.com/How-Cook-Without-Book-Techniques/dp/0767902793/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326828491&sr=1-1 specifically addresses cooking whatever is in your pantry. The author also gives you several general recipes that are fairly easy and quick and talks about how to mix and match ingredients from your pantry. She also gives a list of items you should keep handy.
As already stated, "The Flavor Bible" tells you about flavors that go together.
"Cooking Know-How: Be a Better Cook with Hundreds of Easy Techniques, Step-by-Step Photos, and Ideas for Over 500 Great Meals " http://www.amazon.com/Cooking-Know-Ho... has several master recipes and then lists 8 very similar recipes with different ethnicity profiles.
Searching on the web will show several articles on cooking techniques.
Finally, watching "Chopped" on Food Network has taught me a lot about combining foods and thinking of foods and ingredients as building blocks.
For regional and ethnic information, try the instructional cookbooks from the 50s through 70s. At a time when the only Mexican food in Pittsburgh was a can of Hormel tamales, or in the TV dinner section, Diane Kennedy was a revelation. You can thank Julia Child for the first nonprofessional instruction cook book.
My latest find involves Hungarian cuisine. Author had a restaurant in NYC and had great traditional recipes as well as clear instructions. From the 60's.
I've recently discovered James Peterson's 'Essentials of Cooking'. Here's the description from Amazon:
'In this unrivaled guide, one of America's most widely respected cookbook authors distills his vast knowledge and experience into the 100 essential techniques that every cook needs to know. Now in a paperback edition, Essentials of Cooking will help unravel the mysteries of the method and provide practical application on the spot.
Each technique is further explained in terms of what it does to the taste of the food: What happens if you cook a fish in butter versus oil? Why does roasting make vegetables taste so good? How do you decide whether you want to make a chicken stew or sauté?
Here are the answers to just about every cooking question from the simple to the sublime: how to boil an artichoke, cook a soft-boiled egg, and even butcher a whole saddle of lamb. Knowing how to execute a technique makes you efficient; knowing why you've chosen that technique makes you a master.'
I don't think he goes into ethnic cuisines etc. but this book was definitely written to help people be more creative in the kitchen and free them from being tethered by recipes.
LaVarenne Pratique by Anne Willan is good comprehensive book on techniques and ingredients, with only a small number of recipes. It is strongest on French and other European cuisines (published in 1989).
One of my favorite recipes from that book is a rosemary and lemon sorbet. It also mentions using rosemary in Italian cooking, and with lamb (but not apples or pork :( )
>>> mirepoix (french) ...- e.g., sofrito, the holy trinity, etc.
>> I would like to see what ingredients lend ethic influences (sherry, soy and ginger for Chinese, lime for Mexican and Thai,
- simple, those are distinctive local ingredients; combine that with a tendency to construct stereotypes. I've seen books that try to codify cuisines by certain flavor combinations (basil and tomato for Italian, lemon and marjoram for Greek, etc), but that approach treats those cuisines superficially. Spanish cooking is not simply pimenton and sherry vinegar.
>>> why chili and curry taste similarly
- cumin and chile pepper
I would like to see what foods go with other foods when constructing a dish or a menu. (
Apples and rosemary with pork,
sage with poultry, etc.).
Aren't those just simplified recipes?
You are already starting to make generalizations and connections. Wouldn't it be more satisfying to collect that kind of information for yourself, than to have it handed to you on a platter?
I've been buying a lot of Hermes House picture cookbooks from the clearance bookshelves. Many of those volumes are devoted to specific countries or regions. The first third or so describes typical ingredients, the rest recipes with lots of photos. It's a quick and easy way to get a feel for a cuisine and representative dishes.
Not EVERYTHING you are looking for, but Ruhlmans 20 would be a very good place to start for the techniques aspect. The addition of "the flavor bible" will fill your need of "what goes with what" and would put you well on your way.
In addition, you could add "the profesional chef" to your bookshelf and use it as an encyclopedia of what the other 2 books dont contain.
I know its 3 books, but I cant think of one book that does everything you want.