Cooking Basics: What Everyone Should Know

In partnership with
Chef-Instructor Sean Kahlenberg, AOS
The Culinary Institute of America
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4.1 out of 5
11 Reviews
81% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 9338
Video Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • Learn how to prep and cook vegetables, fish, poultry, and meats.
  • Get tips and tricks for creating roux, gravy, and stew.
  • Understand the importance of mise-en-place and timing your dishes.
  • Take control of your kitchen by knowing how to organize your tools for a variety of tasks.

Course Overview

Have you ever wondered how professional chefs are able to prepare multicourse meals that are not only delicious, but consistent and all prepared to the perfect time and temperature? Or how they pair items and create plates that are beautiful as well as tasty? It turns out it is easier than you might think, once you have learned the right tools and techniques. Presented in partnership with The Culinary Institute of America and filmed at the CIA’s flagship facility in Hyde Park, New York, Cooking Basics: What Everyone Should Know provides the step-by-step instructions you need to become a confident, productive cook in your own home. Whether you’re brand-new to cooking or want to up your game after years in the kitchen, these 24 easy-to-follow lessons demonstrate everything you’ll need to create a wide variety of exciting, flavorful dishes.

Your instructor, Chef Sean Kahlenberg, brings his experience as both a culinary educator and professional chef to every lesson. Having mastered food science in the professional kitchen, he will show you what it means for your cooking at home as he carefully walks you through the dozens of original recipes in this course. You won’t find these specific recipes anywhere else and Chef Kahlenberg’s step-by-step demonstrations—filled with stories and invaluable tips and tricks—will let you learn as if you are right there in the kitchen with him.

Prep for Success

Your potential for success in the kitchen begins before you’ve even turned on your stove or oven. How do chefs produce a full meal that comes to the table all at the same time, perfectly seasoned and just the right temperature? The answer is mise en place. Never heard of it? Don’t worry—you’ll soon wonder how you ever survived in the kitchen without it.

Mise en place is the French term often translated as “everything in its place.” In the kitchen, this refers to having all your ingredients together before you start cooking—each item measured, peeled, or sliced exactly as you’ll need it for your specific recipe. Your ingredients, tools, mixing bowls, pots, and pans should all be within easy reach, allowing you to move forward in a logical and calm manner once you begin cooking. If you’ve ever heard the butter sizzling in the pan while you run around your kitchen throwing open each cabinet to look for a particular spice, you probably want to improve your mise en place.

In Cooking Basics, you’ll learn not only how to organize your mise en place, but also the best way to prepare each of your ingredients, including how to:

  • Cut vegetables into the appropriate dimensions required by your recipe—julienne, brunoise, small dice, large dice, or slice;
  • Create the mirepoix for your recipe—the onions, carrots, and celery that form the flavor base for most Western dishes;
  • Assess, clean, skin, and fillet round and flat fish, including bottom-feeders;
  • Appraise, break down, and brine chicken and turkey;
  • Evaluate and clean clams, mussels, and shrimp; and
  • Trim and portion beef.

The Importance of Fats

You will learn (and disprove) many misconceptions surrounding food as you progress through this course, but one of the most prevalent ideas that can hold home cooks back from success is the idea that “fat is bad.” Actually, when it comes to cooking, fats are your friends. They perform a variety of crucial functions in the cooking process, as well as impacting the look and feel of the final product. Depending on your goal, fats can add flavor of their own or serve as a neutral medium in which to circulate the flavors of other ingredients, coating the tongue to improve your ability to experience those tastes. In fact, some food compounds responsible for flavor and nutrition only become soluble and accessible in the presence of fats.

But perhaps most important, fats offer one of the most effective ways to transfer heat during cooking and produce the Maillard reaction. This is the chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that forms the hundreds of complex molecules we love to smell and taste in our food. Whether or not you’re familiar with its formal name, chances are you’ve always loved the browning that results from the Maillard reaction. In Cooking Basics, you’ll watch the Maillard reaction occur in real time as you learn to fry arancini, baste scallops, sear beef, and much more.

But how to choose which fats to use in which recipes? Chef Kahlenberg explains the benefits of a variety of fats, including:

  • Grapeseed Oil. This oil’s high smoke point makes it a kitchen favorite, allowing foods to cook comfortably at high temperatures without risking the bitterness of burned oil. In addition, grapeseed oil adds very little taste of its own, while nicely carrying other flavors. You’ll learn how to use it in cooking coq au vin, monkfish, asparagus, and many other foods.
  • Butter. While learning to cook cioppino, pasta, lamb, and a variety of vegetables, you’ll come to agree with Chef Kahlenberg when he says, “Too much butter is barely enough.” You’ll explore what can be learned from the sound of butter sizzling—and not sizzling: It’s all about the interplay of fat; water; milk solids; and, of course, heat.
  • Rendered Fat. Learn how to render fat—how to melt and clarify hard animal fat—and use it as the primary cooking medium for paella and a variety of vegetables.

Explore the Wide World in Your Kitchen

No matter how wide and varied your personal cooking repertoire is, Cooking Basics provides a great opportunity to sear, roast, boil, pan fry, grill, and sauté foods in ways you may never have considered before. You’ll learn how and when to cook with a sachet d’epices, how to create a cartouche (and why it works better than a pot lid in some circumstances), how to harvest vanilla caviar, the difference between a roux and a gravy, when to use ras el hanout, and much more.

As you follow Chef Kahlenberg’s step-by-step directions, you’ll learn to prepare many classics with a new twist, including crispy fried chicken, sautéed scallops, grilled salmon, braised short ribs, roast beef, and Thanksgiving turkey along with traditional side dishes of coleslaw, pickles, asparagus, carrots, pilaf, and more. But you’ll also have the opportunity to branch out and create:

  • Argentinian bright green chimichurri sauce
  • French Béarnaise sauce
  • French coq au vin
  • French Provençal ratatouille
  • Italian cheesy polenta,
  • Italian potato gnocchi
  • Italian risi e bisi, traditional northern Italian rice with peas
  • Mexican grilled corn salad
  • San Francisco classic cioppino
  • Sicilian caponata
  • Spanish paella

With Chef Kahlensberg’s guidance, you will be able to make meals that are as beautiful as they are delicious, with each component timed perfectly to be served together. Whether you are hosting a party or making a family dinner, every meal will feel like an amazing accomplishment—and, with a little help from an expert chef, it’s much easier than you think.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 32 minutes each
  • 1
    Risotto and What to Do with the Leftovers
    Rice is one of the most versatile grains in the world, and this risi e bisi, “rice with peas,” is one of the most delicious ways to use it. Among other techniques, you’ll learn how to keep the chlorophyll from turning black while cooking, how to relax the risotto on the plate for best presentation, and how to make perfect arancini with the leftovers. x
  • 2
    Choosing the Best Method to Cook Vegetables
    Should you peel a vegetable before cooking or not? Cook it in water or oil? Put a lid on the pot or leave it off? Add salt to the water—and if so, why? Chef Kahlenberg answers these questions and more as he begins with kitchen basics. Learn which knives you need in the kitchen and other tools you might need to add. x
  • 3
    An Elegant Corn Soup with Lobster
    In this lesson, you will cook, shave, and milk corn to create a delicious corn soup with julienned vegetables, an accompaniment to freshly cooked lobster. And once the lobster is cooked, you'll learn the correct way to separate it to best access all its sweet meat. x
  • 4
    Sauteed Scallops with Roasted Cauliflower
    As you begin to prepare your scallops, Chef Kahlenberg shares the “secret” way chefs decide whether or not this seafood is truly fresh. You’ll also learn how to season and baste scallops to perfection. Roasted and puréed cauliflower seasoned with a white mirepoix makes just the right side dish. x
  • 5
    How to Poach an Octopus
    In this lesson, you’ll learn a dual-cooking method for preparing octopus—poaching and sautéing—for just the right flavor and consistency, as well as how to cut and plate the octopus. Your meal is completed with fingerling potatoes and a Spanish romesco sauce. x
  • 6
    How to Break Down and Roast a Chicken
    In this lesson, you'll learn how and why to truss a chicken before roasting and the best way to season and oil the bird. Using a chef's thermometer, you'll learn how to manage the Maillard reaction while making sure the interior retains its juices. x
  • 7
    Braising Short Ribs and Making Polenta
    Cooking short ribs takes patience because it takes time to break down the connective tissue in the protein—but the result is well worth it! In this lesson, you will simmer, steam, and braise the meat before plating with cheesy polenta and delicious root vegetables. x
  • 8
    Pork Milanese and the Art of Breading
    Learn how to safely pound pork to create a thin, wide cutlet that will fill almost your entire plate. You’ll also learn how to bread the pork with seasoned flour, egg, and breadcrumbs, and how to pan fry it, not deep fry. In addition, you’ll make a beautiful salad with suprêmed grapefruit. x
  • 9
    Grilled Salmon: Breaking Down a Round Fish
    Starting with a whole salmon, you'll learn how to check for freshness; create the filets; and remove the ribs, pin bones, skin, and as much bloodline as possible. In addition to finishing the salmon on a grill pan, you'll learn how to parch and cook quinoa for a delicious quinoa pilaf. x
  • 10
    One-Dish Cookery: Coq au Vin
    Coq au vin is a French chicken dish, all made in one pot. You’ll learn how to create a 24-hour marinade, braise the chicken while keeping the fond golden-brown, safely add and cook off brandy, and create the perfectly sized cartouche for oven cooking. To accompany the chicken, you’ll make a pomme purée and a garnish of onions and mushrooms. x
  • 11
    Monkfish: From Bycatch to Haute Cuisine
    You might think monkfish is an unusual choice for a gourmet meal: It’s a bottom-feeder formerly called garbage fish and is considered so “ugly” that it’s almost never sold with the head on. But with Chef Kahlenberg’s instruction, you will turn monkfish to a golden-brown delicacy, accompanied by a whole-grain salad. x
  • 12
    How to Make Rack of Lamb Persillade
    What really brings color to this meal is the bright green persillade that will coat the lamb after it has been seared in a pan and before it goes into the oven. You’ll also learn to make a caponata—a warm vegetable salad with eggplant, raisins, capers, and pine nuts—as an accompaniment. A beautiful meal. x
  • 13
    Making Your Own Pasta: Potato Gnocchi
    Gnocchi, sometimes called Italian dumplings, is a pasta made with flour and potatoes. Learn about a few of the 200+ types of potatoes, their range of starch-to-moisture ratios, and which potatoes are best for making gnocchi. You’ll learn to mill, cut, and shape this pasta with a gnocchi pallet—and make a delicious sauce to accompany this Mediterranean comfort food. x
  • 14
    Making Your Own Pasta: Butternut Agnolotti
    In this lesson, you'll learn how to determine exactly how much flour and eggs you'll need to measure for pasta. Once the dough is made and rested, you'll learn how to use the pasta roller until the dough is exactly the correct consistency and how to use a piping bag to insert the roasted butternut squash mixture. Delicious! x
  • 15
    Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
    To brine or not to brine? While there are pros and cons to both, in this lesson, you'll learn Chef Kahlenberg's method of brining and cooking turkey, as well as creating delicious stuffing and cranberry sauce. With the chef's tips on prep and cook times, it will all come together exactly as you've always hoped. x
  • 16
    Seafood Delight: How to Make Cioppino
    Cioppino is a Portuguese seafood stew that made its way to San Francisco and is now considered a classic of that area. For this dish, you'll learn how to prepare shrimp, mussels, calamari, clams, halibut, and scallops, as well as cleaning, cutting, and cooking leeks. Grill a baguette to finish and you'll have the perfect seafood meal! x
  • 17
    Finding Your Roots: Maple-Roasted Celeriac
    While vegan menus can be a challenge for any chef, as umami can be difficult to include, Chef Kahlenberg shares his own tricks to address the issue. You'll learn how to clean, peel, and prepare celeriac; clean and prepare a variety of carrots; and how to season, cook, and plate this delicious vegan meal. x
  • 18
    How to Make Great Paella
    Paella is an ancient, summertime, one-pot seafood and rice dish originating near Valencia, updated here to include pork and chicken. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to render fat from chorizo to use as a cooking medium, create a sofrito, parch rice, bloom saffron, prepare artichokes—and bring it all together in one special pan for a unique culinary experience. x
  • 19
    Smoking Pork with Mexican Street Corn
    This recipe requires a bit of advanced planning, as the marinated and fully seasoned pork must be smoked for 16 hours. You'll also learn how to prepare corn so it can both steam and grill at the same time for maximum flavor, and to create and dress the perfect Virginia slaw. x
  • 20
    Dover Sole: Breaking Down a Flat Fish
    Dover sole is a flat fish and a bottom-feeder that almost always comes whole with the intestines left in, requiring very different preparation and cooking than a round fish. Chef Kahlenberg demonstrates how to remove the skin by hand, which must be done before cooking. You'll also make perfectly sized fondant potatoes, as well as beautiful asparagus. x
  • 21
    You Too Can Make Ratatouille
    This French vegetable stew is given such a beautiful presentation by Chef Kahlenberg that it almost looks like a work of art! Step by step, you'll learn how to remove the bitterness from eggplant and how to cut all vegetables to the exact same size, including using a ring mold for the red and green peppers. In addition, you'll make a delicious branzino and tapenade. x
  • 22
    Making Roast Beef and Potato Gratin
    Learn how to trim, score, and tie beef before you start cooking to help with flavor and presentation later on. After oven searing, you'll use a chef's thermometer to determine when to remove the meat, resting it with carryover cooking to complete the process. You'll learn to make a delicious potato gratin, as well. x
  • 23
    Patience, Pickles, and Crispy Fried Chicken
    These easy-to-make pickles need to sit in brine for one week before eating, so you'll need to start early on that one! The chicken also requires patience, as you'll prepare your 9-cut, leaving it for 24 hours in brine and then 24 hours in buttermilk. At that point, it will be ready for dredging in spiced flour and fried to a beautiful golden brown. Coleslaw is the perfect way to top off this classic American dish. x
  • 24
    My Big Steak: Executing a Three-Course Meal
    In this lesson, you'll learn how to create a three-course meal and have it all come together with perfect timing. You'll prepare filet mignon from a beef tenderloin, create a spinach salad, a potato salad, and a chocolate tarte with raspberry coulis. Bon appetit! x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 112-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 112-page printed course guidebook
  • Recipes
  • Photos
  • Recipe list

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Your professor

Sean Kahlenberg

About Your Professor

Sean Kahlenberg, AOS
The Culinary Institute of America
Sean Kahlenberg is a Chef-Instructor at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Hyde Park, New York, where he also earned his AOS in Culinary Arts. Additionally, he is a Certified Hospitality Educator. Chef Kahlenberg began his cooking career in his hometown of Wollongong, Australia, where he learned the trade of hospitality and restaurant and hotel management. After moving to the United States and graduating from the CIA,...
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Reviews

Cooking Basics: What Everyone Should Know is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 11.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Happy. We really liked the presentations by Bill Briwa (RIP), but these are equally as good, if not better. We've watched only three episodes (one-half of one of the four DVDs), but they are very informative. Not as entertaining as Briwa's courses, but there is more of the science and technicalities of cooking-which I think are important. Our children are learning to cook, and there is much in these DVDs for them, as well as my wife who is a seasoned and excellent chef.
Date published: 2019-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Cooking Course I’m an experienced home cook, have watched a lot of G C cooking courses but this one tops them all....not sure I’ll use all the recipes, but I have tried out all the techniques....
Date published: 2019-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Cooking Basics: What Everyone Should Know While waiting for my DVDs of this course I started watching on streaming. So very happy I did. I LOVE this course! I may never make any of the recipes demonstrated, however, the techniques that Chef Sean Kahlenberg taught are more than worth the cost of the course. He is making restaurant quality food and if you are interested in the recipes this course may or may not satisfy you. What I enjoyed are the techniques of what and why to prepare certain food. Those are techniques I am able to apply to my own home -cooking. Excellent!
Date published: 2019-10-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Overall very good with one disturbing exception As an intermediate level cook I felt this course added a lot of valuable content to my cooking skills. But Lesson 3 contained something that I feel needs to be commented on. I am not a PETA person by any means but I did find it very disturbing that Chef Kahlenberg felt it was acceptable to boil a lobster alive - "he's not going to be too happy at first" was Chef's comment - there is plenty of content online regarding humane methods to kill lobsters. I find it interesting that the CIA appears to still feel it is acceptable to use this method to kill a live animal. Other than that one instance however, an excellent course.
Date published: 2019-10-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This is a very good way to learn in a structure way. Some of the curses are a little bit old, but for some topics it doesn't really matter.
Date published: 2019-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course for Foodies I purchased this course about a month ago and downloaded them lessons to my computer so I can watch them on a plane. I have watch 8 of the 24 lessons and the time flies. Chef-Instructor Sean Kahlenberg is fantastic in my book. Well done hopefully he does more.
Date published: 2019-10-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A disappointing start As a big fan of The Great Courses, especially Bill Briwa's cooking courses, I am disappointed in Cooking Basics. At least to start. I've watched most of the lessons but have only attempted to cook the first one, Risotto. My disappointment extends to TGC rather than to Chef Kahlenberg, who I found to be a clear and qualified instructor. Because of some glaring errors, its fairly clear that TGC did not independently test the recipes as written in the manual or as presented in the video prior to releasing the course. They should have. My first issue is with the yield of the ingredient list. For Risotto, the yield shown in the manual is 16 portions instead of a more standard 4 servings. When would someone taking a Cooking Basics class be cooking for 16 people? Leafing through the manual at the other recipes, we see the yields to be from a low of 2 portions to a whopping 25! Adjusting the quantities of ingredients up or down to match 4 servings is not that hard to do. My second issue is with editing or continuity and has to do with butter. The ingredient lis for the rise e bisi (risotto) calls for 240 g of butter (60 g for 4 servings). During the video, Chef Kahlenberg presents the butter and instructs that the dish requires quite a bit of butter. Surprisingly, Chef Kahlenberg never uses the butter. It just sits next to the cooktop through the plating of the dish and the end of lesson. The manual also does not describe when or how to use the butter. At the end of my cooking, I simply put the butter back in the fridge. The end result of my dish probably suffered by the lack of the butter. These two problems were easily detected and corrected and its disappointing that TGC did not take more care prior to the release of the course. As I work my way through the rest of the lessons, if I find that these types of issues only appear in the first lesson and that the others present a higher level of quality control, I'll come back and update my review.
Date published: 2019-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Cooking Techniques This was an excellent and inspiring course. Chef Kahlenberg demonstrated many foundational cooking techniques that students will be able to apply to other dishes. Each lecture was full of interesting and practical information. I appreciated learning the many tricks that restaurant chefs use to take their food to the next level. I hope that Chef Kahlenberg offers more courses in the future. He is a wonderful teacher and has a great presentation style. This course was one of my favorites, and has given me a newfound confidence in the kitchen. Thank you!
Date published: 2019-10-08
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