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The Easiest cooking guide ever

The best bang for reading-time guide for cooking

Let's divide cooking in a four steps and analyze each one of them:

Cleaning

Buying

In the first step we also consider the process of acquiring the ingredients. Discount stores are nice because of wider offerings, you can work around the shorter shelf life by freezing anything that you don't intend to use right away.

Storage and preparation

Let's consider some groups with some tips:

Cutting

You can cut with knives, but there are many cheap tools that you can buy that help reducing vegetables and fruits into slices, or mashing into rough or fine powders. They either use some spring mechanism, or have a shape fit for some particular fruits/veggies.

Eggs

Eggs have a wide adoption in cooking, they are used as:

Mixing

During mixing we try to give the right shape and consistency to our subject.

Order

Usually you want to mix by groups, solids with solids, and liquids with liquids. By solids we mean powder like ingredients, and by liquid anything that doesn't hold its shape. Unless you want air, in which case you mix sugar with butter.

Cold or Hot?

If you are making a cake you want butter to be melted first before mixing, if you are making ice cream, you want pieces in ice cubes that will be blended together. If you are blending almonds and sugar to make nougat, you want them to be cold to avoid caramelization of sugars, which would prevent paste formation.

Time

Sometimes it is important to pay attention to the duration of the mixing process. Making a dough for tarts you want it to be short, to prevent development of gluten bonds, which would give rigidity to the baked cake. Mixing too much liquids that already holds air (like beaten eggs or butter/sugar mix) breaks the air bubbles and lets all the air escape the batter. On the contrary when mixing a dough for bread, you want to give the mixing process enough time to allow gluten bonds to form to give elasticity to the dough which is important afterwards to shape the bread and give it mechanical strength to rise during the backing process.

Quantities

Adding all the fats at once, like oil, can make a dough loose its consistency, breaking it down in smaller pieces. You want to gradually add fats to balance gluten creation with fat absorption. In the same way add ingredients like water or milk all at once is not a good idea. It is easier to work with a dough where solids and liquids are gradually mixed, and it helps spot errors in dosages sooner rather than later. Different ingredients have different water contents. You can find out how much water an ingredient has by checking the nutritional facts and then subtracting from the total (usually 100g), the sum of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. The weight of minerals and vitamins is negligible. Total water contents are important to avoid a dough from becoming a batter and viceversa. Some ingredients (like potatoes, and blended fruits/veggies in general) can hold more water, because fibers prevent other ingredients like flour from absorbing too much water, however the resulting dough still ends up stickier and is harder to handle.

Leavening agents

Doughs ratios

Different preps require different ratios of these ingredients:

Heating

Resting

Some preps are supposed to be consumed right away, like souffles others might require a few moments of relaxation:

[2] preparation, a general term when no dough is involved during cooking.
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classificationofwine
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