How should a beginner start cooking? Cooking from scratch means buying ingredients to cook from the beginning. No more pre-made tomato sauces, canned soups or instant ramen packs. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with purchasing ready made meals but learning how to cook from scratch can be easy and rewarding.
New skills can develop your confidence in the kitchen, making you a more complete overall cook for having a better understanding of concepts. It’s fun to experience new techniques while exploring your own creativity with your favourite dishes.
You do not have to be a professional chef to be able to cook at home like one. With YouTube tutorials and online cooking blogs, there has never been a better time to learn how your favourite dishes are made from scratch. It does not have to be a daunting task, after all, cooking is supposed to be enjoyable!
The most important first step is to relax and take the pressure off. Organize your countertops to make sure you have plenty of space and pour yourself a glass of wine. Diving into uncharted culinary territory can be unpredicted and stressful but have no fear. Follow the guidelines in this blog and you will be just fine.
You’re going to need to go grocery shopping. Watch your favourite Jamie Oliver video on YouTube or find a recipe on Martha Stewart and follow along. Make your grocery list and head to the store. It’s good to have a few staples already in your pantry to make cooking at home easier. Things like:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Canola Oil
- All Purpose Flour
- Unsalted Butter
- Kosher Salt and fresh Black Peppercorns to crack in your Pepper Mill
- Spices: Chili Flakes, Dried Oregano, Dried Basil, Curry Powder
- Granulated Sugar and Brown Sugar
These ingredients may seem like they have no use to you but having a good base ready to go in your kitchen makes shopping easier.
Here is a video of Gordon Ramsey going through some quick, easy and delicious recipes. Take a watch and pick your favourite:
If you want to go one step further on Ramsey’s mushroom and leek pasta, here’s a Jamie Oliver video going through the steps to make pasta at home:
Start with homemade pasta and pasta sauce.
Pasta is my personal favourite to make from scratch. Although not necessary, I recommend purchasing your own Pasta Machine on Amazon. There are so many different shapes, sizes and names, the world of pasta could be your new hobby.
Let’s talk pasta sauce. You honestly never need to purchase the pre-made tomato or alfredo sauces for your pasta. They use the cheapest ingredients possible in order to make the most money, and cheap ingredients means less flavour. For tomato sauce you need to buy the best canned tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes are number one in my opinion. Coming from California they are available year-round. Just be sure to cook out your tomatoes long enough, for at least 10 minutes, to remove the slight “canned” tomato taste.
Jamie Oliver makes a fantastic tomato sauce, with an easy and complete pasta dish. His is a very fast recipe if you’re in a rush. I’d be sure to slow it down a bit to make sure you cook out your sauce enough:
I’ve never had a good store-bought alfredo sauce. With it being so easy to cook at home I cannot understand why anyone would want to purchase it pre-made! Here is a great video from Bon Appetit making the simple dish of Fettuccine Alfredo:
Making your homemade bread
Another hobby that people really get into is making your own bread. There is a huge variety of loafs and buns that are easy to make from scratch. Making your own bread is more of a science and has less room for error compared to making pasta.
If you’re feeling adventurous, I recommend diving into learning about sourdough and sourdough starters. It’s tedious, you must keep your starter alive with daily feeding but the delicious sourdough that you can make at home is worth it.
I have recently gotten into making my own focaccia, I believe it is the easiest and most versatile loaf of bread to make from scratch. I topped my first batch with 3 varieties of olives, a lot of olive oil and flakey sea salt. My second batch I wanted to make more like a pizza. I spread it thin on a baking tray and covered it with buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced pieces of potato and leek and with a sauce of potato and leek.
I then did a dusting of pecorino cheese, olive oil, fresh snipped thyme and sea salt. I baked it until it was golden brown and crispy, one of my favourite things I have ever made. I highly recommend making this recipe for yourself.
The focaccia I made was from Bon Appetite, they have great step by step instructions. Just make sure to read the whole recipe before beginning as they include water in the instructions but not the ingredient list:
Make your own dairy free milk.
For some people with dietary restrictions, cooking from home is all they know. There can be a lot of nutritional benefits to making your own food, especially things like nut milk. Plant-based milk alternatives are turning into a massive worldwide industry, the elimination of dairy in one’s diet has been proven to have a substantial amount of health benefits.
Almond Milk is the most popular brand of dairy free alternative milk in the United States but the companies making these products have been known to put a lot of additives in them. Additives that boost the calcium content or emulsifiers that make sure the milk won’t split when poured into your hot coffee.
Making your own plant-based milks at home can not only be delicious but is the healthiest dairy free option. You can even experiment by making blends of nut and oat milks. Not only is it easy but you can also save a lot of money making it from scratch.
Here is a great article on how to make your own oat milk step by step, with just oats and water.
If you want to read more into dairy free options, I recently wrote an article on the 9 best dairy free alternatives.
Making your homemade pizza.
Everything outlined so far has been delicious ideas, but I must be honest, they are all time consuming. You may be reading this saying you just simply do not have the time, whether it be kids, life or a busy work schedule. The only suggestion I can make is to try and make it as enjoyable as possible for everyone in your life.
Making pizza from scratch is fun for the whole family, time consuming yes, but it’s something you can work on for a bit and walk away from. I like to make simple pizzas at home, topped with tomato sauce, two types of cheeses and fresh herbs. I always go for an aged cheddar, fresh mozzarella and torn pieces of basil.
Another favourite of mine is pizza “bianca,” meaning white pizza. No tomato sauce, just your fabulous pizza dough and many different types of cheese. I like to make sure I use mascarpone cheese, as when it melts it gets creamy and will act almost like the sauce.
For in depth instruction on making pizza here is a great video by Tasty. Make sure you watch the whole video before you go start, as the dough recipe they use makes quite a bit of pizza:
For pizza bianca here is a good blog post, although she is using store bought dough. I’d be sure to add mascarpone cheese to her recipe.
Cooking from scratch is not only fun but it’s delicious. Adding simple recipes to your repertoire makes you a more confident cook, and confidence in the kitchen makes your food taste better. I recommend attempting something new once a week on your days off work.
Be sure to make it enjoyable, turn on some music and pour a glass of wine. Remember it’s okay if your food doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, failures in the kitchen only leads to more knowledge of the ingredients you are working with. There is always next week to improve on your past recipes.