Episode 35:

Preparing To Cook

Preparing to cook is part of cooking. With a little practice and a good recipe, cooking prep can become second nature. (We tell you all of the things that cooking shows don't.)
Bonus: A rant about food blogs

Audio Only Version:

EP-35 Preparing To CookLife Admin
00:00 / 49:49

Basic Kitchen: Following recipes and preparing to cook

Set the table

We’ve talked about kitchen rhythms and shopping. Adding detail: following a recipe once you have done the shopping. And tips for actual prep. 


Segment 1: Preparing to cook

  • Read the recipes and plan the timing. When to  preset the oven or start heating the pan. Plan for the longest cooking item first. Plan backwards for the shorter items. 

  • Tidy the prep space; clean food surfaces as necessary

  • Get out equipment and confirm it is clean and in working order—note: all of this will take more time the first times you do it. Soon it becomes automatic habit. 

  • Do your mise en place. Explain. It’s the process used on pretty much every cooking show. Bonus, it is an excellent way to involve others like children in the process

    • Move from cleanest to messiest; driest to wettest, neutral to pungent. As in, cut carrots first, onion and tomatoes last. 

    • Set stuff out in order of when you need it and where you will need it. 

  • Clean as you go starts here. Clean prep items and put away supplies after the prep process. 

  • Pull out serving dishes and vessels. Perhaps set the table or serving area. 

    • buffet style - Put out food on a counter and allow diners to serve themselves.

    • Family style - Set table places. Put food in center and allow diners to serve in a round, from the table.

    • Plated - put the food on the plate straight from the cooking or resting area and set full plate at each diner’s seat

Segment 2: Using a recipe

  • Diagram description

    • Ingredients list. Instructions. Total prep time. Yield. Sometimes there is an equipment list, but most likely need to read though the recipe to know what equipment to set. 

  • Used the ingredients list for the shopping and then for the mise en place.

  • Yield was a pre-planning thing. Doubling or halving is pretty straightforward, but I wouldn’t do more than that as a beginner. 

  • Prep time helps with the timing. If doing a full meal, then coordinating prep time is a school-of-experience skill. 

  • Read though the whole recipe before starting to prep and again before starting to cook. Measure twice, cut once. 

  • Follow instructions tightly for new cooks. Can modify as you gain experience. 


Segment 3: Other tips

  • Clean as you go. Most meal preps will have waiting gaps. Since you’ve already done all the prep, you can use those to clean and put away items you are finished with. You’ll know you’ve mastered this when you sit down to eat and only the final cooking prep items remain to be cleaned. 

  • This is the goal you work towards: all food to the table at the same, ideal temp time, and almost all prep cleaned up. Only clearing the table and dishes to do after the meal. 

  • Practice with eggs.



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Copyright 2019 by: Ryan Taillon

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