Dear 10 recipes for beginner cooks,

More American than apple pie. Flickr/caitlinator

More American than apple pie. Flickr/caitlinator

The other half of being an everyday gourmand is cooking. If you’re like me, cooking isn’t your strongest skill. So I found it a bit frightening as I was getting started on my food adventure.

Many of the prolific home cooks I know spent years cooking with family or friends, picking up little tips and tricks to make each dish just a little more delicious, a little more special. Already, they have a leg up. Plus, I felt pressure to invest in the specialized tools to make the food look beautiful (cupcakes, looking at you!). I sometimes crack under the desire of beautiful presentation! Next thing you know, I’ve totally talked myself out of cooking something.

But food means a lot to me, so I try to remind myself that just like any other skill, I have to practice to get good at it. If you love it enough, you don’t mind the trial-by-error nature of cooking. So for those of us who still shudder with trepidation at beefing up their cooking skills, I want to share a couple of resources I found helpful.

Check out this article Food & Wine posted earlier this month listing 10 recipes every beginner cook should master. I think each of these dishes naturally engages certain foundational, translatable cooking skills while each chef can make it his own.

Also, I’m a big fan of this book, Notes on Cooking. In easy-to-read lists, organized by logical chapters, the authors tell you what you need to know about preparing meat, vegetables, cutting techniques, spices and anything else you can think of, without making you feel like a dummy.

What are your favorite cooking resources? What’s your tried and true way of learning to cook, taste and present better?


Alma is a journalist by trade, living and working in Chicago while staying true to her tree-hugging spirit, L.A. spirit. Favorite pastimes include watching great television, listening to fantastic podcasts and daydreaming about writing a novel. Favorite foods run the gamut from sweet to salty to savory to eggs Benedict. And chocolate. Especially chocolate.