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Cookery and Culinary Arts/Help I'm 30 and can't boil water :)

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Dear Adam,
This is Russell from Sydney,  Australia - not sure where you are

All my life I have wanted to be able to cook, now I look in the fridge and I have the following stuff but no idea how to do anything with it.
2 bags of basmati rice, six tangelos, raisin toast, 2 sheets of Yaki Nori, Chocoloate topping (the kind for Icecream), 1kg bacon, a bag of green lentils and six sheets of  vietnamese rice paper.
If you can assist in Designing a recipe - I have my slowcooker which is a godsend, and also working with unfamiliar ingredients like cornflour and aioli.

Answer
G'day Russel,

I'll do my best to steer you in the right direction.  Those are some eclectic ingredients, and I doubt we're going to be able to use all of them, but here are some ideas.  Please keep in mind that these are just some outlines, and actually developing a recipe would be a hands on project.  As you cook, the most important thing you can do is taste the food as you go.  Taste, smell, use all of your senses - you know what you like.  Get an intuitive sense of what you are cooking and you will be able to throw the recipe book away.

Lentil Soup
Chop the bacon really fine and put it in your slow cooker until most of the fat has rendered out and there are crispy bits in the bottom.  Here you can add vegetables, I'd recommend onion and garlic, and cook them in the fat for a few minutes.  You can do an Asian twist on this by adding some ginger as well.  Add water or broth, or even vegetable juice, and then add lentils and some rice as well.  This is going to require some math from you, as you will need to coordinate the amount of liquid you have, the amount of liquid the water and lentils will absorb, and the difference in cooking time of the lentils and rice.  I would recommend you use 2-3x the amount of liquid that would be required to cook the grains (it should say on the boxes).  That should be something like four to six cups of liquid for one cup grain (half a cup rice, half a cup lentils).  To finish the soup you could use some dry time, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or for your Asian theme, try chopping up the nori (I like using a scissors) and adding that to the end of the cooking process.  A little soy sauce and rice vinegar, maybe some scallion greens would complete it.  Sesame oil is always a great touch if you have it.  I like to run mine briefly through a food processor, but that's a matter of taste.


Asian Roll
Cook your rice as per the directions on the box, with the addition of just a pinch of finely chopped nori.  Then prepare a 1:3:12 ratio of salt:sugar:rice vinegar (1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp sugar, 4 Tbsp vinegar - Sorry my units are all American) by putting them in a microwavable bowl and heating until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  When your rice is done cooking, set it out in a bowl and let it cool slightly.  When it is warm but not hot, drizzle in some of the liquid (don't make soup, just coat the rice).  Stir the rice around gently to coat.  This is something like sushi rice, but don't tell your local sushi chef that I said that.

Once your rice is cool, roll it in your rice paper (You may have to soak the paper in water, I forget at the moment if Vietnamese paper is flexible or hard, it will say on the package.)  You can add some crushed peanuts or cashews, your oranges, skinned and segmented.  Other good additions would be shrimp, sliced carrots, cucumber, or cabbage, or any Asian style sauce you prefer (oyster sauce, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, etc.)

Grilled PBJ
It's a classic at my house.  Not sure how culturally specific peanut butter and jelly is, but you can use maple butter, apple butter, Nuttella, and for all I know Vegemite if you like.  A bit of butter or oil on your raisin bread, your favorite spread in between, and grill it just like a grilled cheese sandwich.  Makes a good dessert with chocolate sauce and ice cream.

Hope this was some help.  Otherwise, it may be time to go to the market soon!  Good luck.  

Cookery and Culinary Arts

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Adam W Price

Expertise

I can answer general and specific questions related to all manner of food preparation, food cookery, and peripheral disciplines such as applied food science, nutrition, or sanitation. I am knowledgeable in meat, poultry and seafood fabrication, recipe development, world cuisines including 'fusion' styles, and all of the primary cooking methods (grilling, steaming, etc.). I can assist you with developing or redesigning recipes, planning for events (from a caterers point of view), troubleshooting recipes, identifying and working with unfamiliar ingredients or cooking methods, or (most importantly in my opinion) figuring out exactly why things happen the way they do. If we understand the science and reasoning behind our craft, then we can start learning how to cook instead of learning to recreate recipes. Other sides of the craft that I am experienced in include: sugar work (though limited experience with chocolate, sad to say), ice creams/sorbets, baking and pastry, wines (specifically when paired with foods), and others. If for some reason I cannot answer a question, I will do my best to point you toward a source that can.

Experience

I have nearly two decades of experience as a professional in the field, and I enjoy experimenting with new ideas on my own time. I have worked in restaurants ranging from quick service to fine dining, bakeries, butcher shops and institutions. I have done event planning and execution for large and small scale catered events. I have managed several kitchens and developed menus ranging from simple buffets to elaborate multi-course meals. I have an extensive library of recipe books as well as books on cooking techniques, food science, food safety, and nutrition.

Education/Credentials
I graduated with high honors from the Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park). I am ServSafe certified for food safety and sanitation, and I take this very seriously.

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