Getting it all together
One of my favorite cook books is Youtube. I can find dozens of various ways to make any given recipe, sometimes with valuable tips or insights. So, making just one recipe is pretty easy. My problem is when I try to cook three recipes, to make a whole dinner, I wind up running around like a Chopped competitor and having some ingredients not make the plate, despite my best planning. My question is, how can I learn to make several recipes simultaneously have them finish at the same time.
And learn to know which foods can happily sit around for a little while. And which can't.
For me it's just something I have been able to perfect (well, sort of) over time. You can say it comes with experience. I could never sit here and write down instructions or even helpful hints. I just "make it happen." I'm sure other more succinct and fastidious CHers will chime in with more useful information though.
"I wind up running around like a Chopped competitor and having some ingredients not make the plate, despite my best planning."
Don't worry. This happens to all of us "vets" now and again. The more you cook the better you will become at it.
Never do three new recipes at once. If you're doing chicken a new way, make the salad and sides things you can prep ahead and no how to make. If you're doing a new salad, make the main dish something that doesn't require attention and you've made it before. Trying to do all new is a "recipe" for disaster.
I'm still learning myself but this is advice above has been key for me.... especially the mis en place part. So often I was ending up realizing that I needed a cup of chopped onion or something halfway through the cooking process, and the "Chopped" scenario would commence.
Also, I read the recipe multiple times to make sure I'm not forgetting anything, before I get started. I pick out my recipes well ahead of time, but I always read them again right before I'm ready to start making the food. I also try to "pair" recipes... so I'm not stuck with two things that need to be in the oven at vastly different temperatures or two different things that both needs lots of attention.
Whenever my husband cooks he comes out with meat. He forgets the other stuff.
It does just take practice, but until then you could strategize on paper. Some stuff can be cooked and set aside or partially done and then cooked off (while sitting on the stove - waiting for the time to turn on the burner). Also, if you detect something is going to be done too soon, you can remove it from the oven and then reinsert it.
Meat can certainly sit tented. And should. If someone gives you the hairy eyeball for it, get high handed and say you let your meat rest for optimum juiciness! ~slipslap!
Start with easy things and then get more complicated. Dark meat chicken. Salmon. All one pot things.
When I have a dinner party I write out everything I am serving and what needs to be done and preset the table and lay out dishes and silver. It cuts down on the last minute flurry.
When you are putting the meal together right at the last - shoo the company or family from the room so you can think.