What Are the Best Tips for French Cooking?

Angela Crout-Mitchell

There are several important elements to learn in order to prepare excellent French cuisine in the home, including an understanding of French cooking terms and techniques as well as a familiarity with traditional French spices. Most French cooking techniques are incredibly simple and easy to master, though there are some recipes that require exacting procedures and perfect execution to produce restaurant quality results. The key components of most French food preparation are fresh ingredients, basic kitchen skills, and the equipment to properly follow the recipe's instructions. There are many books, magazines, and websites that can provide a great deal of information about French cuisine and how to prepare it properly.

Marjoram, which is commonly used in French cooking.
Marjoram, which is commonly used in French cooking.

The art of French cooking begins with understanding the basic French cuisine cooking terms. This knowledge is incredibly important for reading the recipes correctly and ensuring the reader understands how to carry out the instructions. Most well written French cookbooks contain a glossary of terms to help the novice cook with this issue. The reader should expect to see terms referring to techniques, specific types of ingredients, and measurements. In some cases, it may be necessary to consult a measurement conversion chart to ensure the correct amounts of ingredients are added to the dish.

An understanding of French cooking terms and techniques is essential when learning French cooking.
An understanding of French cooking terms and techniques is essential when learning French cooking.

Many of the techniques used in basic cooking are used in French cooking as well. For a brand new cook, it may be necessary to review what actions those terms refer to. For example, the word whisk can refer to both the action and the tool used. There are cooking techniques that are unique to French cuisine, including braising, flambeing, and poaching. The definitions for these terms can be found on food TV shows, in cookbooks, and from French cuisine websites, often with video or illustrations to better describe the techniques.

Many culinary experts feel one of the most important elements of French cooking is using the best, freshest, and correct type of herbs and spices in the recipes. Like other countries, there are specific herb blends used in different regions of France. In order to produce a truly authentic dish or meal, it is crucial to use the exact herb and spice combinations called for in the recipe. Some grocery stores and markets carry French spice blends, such as herbs de Provence, which includes savory, thyme, marjoram, and lavender. Other herbs can be purchased singularly fresh or dried as needed.

Chefs who specialize in French bistro cuisine often use fresh ingredients that come from local farms and dairies.
Chefs who specialize in French bistro cuisine often use fresh ingredients that come from local farms and dairies.

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