Advice for the New Cook-by Sister #3


Over the past few years I have spent some time talking to Millennials about food, their cooking (or often more accurately) ordering-in and dining out habits.  And it seems to me that there are two distinct camps. The smaller group of the two, are the foodies.  Perhaps they grew up in a house where cooking was a family affair, or maybe they took full advantage of growing up with access to food network and endless food blogs and YouTube videos to teach themselves how to cook.  On the complete opposite end is the majority of young people who, for whatever reason, didn’t have the same exposure or interest in learning to cook.  

A few years ago I did a cooking class for four such young women.  All of them had very limited experience in the kitchen but were keen to learn and overcome the intimidation they felt.  All were interested in home cooked food that was budget conscious and didn’t take a lot of time.  One of the things we made was sheet pan pork tenderloin with bean and potatoes. See the “recipe” below.   

So here is my advice to the new cook.  
1) Start with the basics.  Learn how to make really good scrambled eggs. It’s a dish you are likely going to eat a lot in your life, so make the most delicious version you can.  The technique is simple and demonstrates that by doing a few things differently; you can take your food from alright to really yummy. Most of us tend to cook our eggs on too high a heat; we often forget to season them well. You can find a good tutorial on YouTube  

2) Cook in big batches. You may only be cooking for yourself or the two of you, but why not make a lot and prepare portions to enjoy for lunch, dinner the next night, or stick it in the freezer for down the road.

3) Master 5 or 6 dishes.  You likely don’t entertain the same people over and over again.  So why not learn to make a dish well and then serve it to each group of friends once.  Then, learn another and repeat. I would recommend recipes by Jamie Oliver, the Barefoot Contessa, or Food Wishes.  They all have videos you can follow.  

4) Not everything needs to be from scratch.  It’s OK to take short cuts.  Not everyone needs to make their own pie crusts.  A pizza made on store bought Naan bread can be as good as one made with homemade dough. If time is important to you, take the shortcut.

5) Never try a new recipe if you are having guests that you want to impress.  It is a good idea to practice first to make sure it is a dish you will be proud to serve.  Also keep in mind that if it is a flop, it may not be you, it could be the recipe.   

6) Simple food is the bomb!  In my opinion nothing beats a roast chicken with roast potatoes and veggies.  Making the fanciest food is not the be-all-end-all.  It takes time and patience to master complicated recipes.

Pork Tenderloin Sheet Pan Dinner

2 1 pound pork tenderloins, trimmed

1/2 cup hoisin sauce

1 pound green beans, stems trimmed

1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes cut in half lengthwise

4 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

non stick cooking spray

Position oven rack to middle lower position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray heavy duty baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine green beans with 2 tablespoons of olive oil,
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Arrange green beans in center of baking sheet. 

In the same bowl, toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Transfer to baking sheet and arrange cut side down on either side of green beans.

Remove silver skins from tenderloin.  Here is a great video of how this is done. 

Next slather with hoisin sauce, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Lay on top of the beans and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until thickest part of tenderloins reaches 140 degrees on a meat thermometer. 

Feeds 4 – 6 people

Kath’s quote: “People find cooking therapeutic. You get to make use of all of your senses, and that’s what makes this activity worthwhile. Cooking is a highly diverse subject, but what makes it unique is that it connects people from all over the world, regardless of their race, religion, or ethnicity. The vast variety of cuisines represent people and their cultures ever so beautifully. Most people find that cooking uplifts their mood. After all, good food is directly proportional to a good mood!” 

Love never fails.

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