Ditch the Recipe: Learn Cooking Methods & Technique

Have you ever seen an episode of Chopped on Food Network? Four contestants line up at identical cooking stations and are given a mystery basket of (sometimes super disgusting or weird) ingredients to make a dish with. By the end of the show they have cooked three different mystery baskets in a progressive meal containing appetizer, entrée and dessert.

So, how does a chef take a mystery basket containing hot dogs, chocolate, pears, and soy sauce and turn it into a winning dish?

By understanding cooking methods, techniques, and flavor.

These days it seems like everyone has a favorite recipe blogger – who’s recipes they find tried and true. I have a few myself for anytime I am in a rut or I want something extremely specific!

But otherwise, people are surprised to find out, I don’t cook with recipes very often, and you don’t have to either. Our dinnertime routine looks a lot like chopped, usually combining leftovers with something new to make a zero waste meal!

When you understand cooking methods and techniques you are able to improvise a bit more, and end up with a hyper personalized meal you can’t help but love.

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Dry cooking methods transfer heat heat by hot metal, hot air, hot fat or radiation.

It does not use any moisture and any moisture in the food item is evaporated off during cooking.

  • Sear/Sauté
  • Roasting/Baking
  • Frying

In Culinary School I had one professor who wouldn’t let us use recipes at all. He would bark orders at us like “make the gnoochi” and “get started on the carbonara” all the while we ran around trying to look like we knew what that meant.

His whole goal was to be able to say “Chef Kati, you’re on gnocchi today” and that I would grab some potatoes and subsequently get them cleaned, peeled, and cooking without written directions. He wanted us to start using our instincts.

Each culinary lab was 9 days long and by the end we were able to execute an entire European smorgasbord for our other Culinary major classmates and we were no longer paralyzed by fear in our other labs.

We were first ones in the dry storage while our classmates waited on their recipes.



Moist cooking methods use liquid (NOT oil) to transfer heat.

The liquid might be water, stock, steam, wine, etc.

(p.s. I promise I will stop saying moist now

    • Poach
    • Simmer/Boil
    • Blanch
    • Steam

The Great British Bake Off does something similar in their technical round. Each contestant is given a bare bones recipe with single word instructions like combine or bake. Sometimes, they are confident and others they look like a deer in the headlights.

Don’t fall into the trap that your recipe will keep you from making mistakes. Hell, sometimes the recipe you are following just plain sucks! Understand your ingredients, cooking methods and techniques and become a more confident cook.



Combines dry and moist cooking techniques to cook food.

Dry -> Moist

Usually this looks like searing (dry) a protein before braising (moist)

    • Braise
    • Stew

Where to start!

You won’t find recipes anywhere on the website – it just isn’t how we work here. Instead, take inspiration from the seasons, what’s in the cupboard and what your body is screaming for to make your next meal. You might just be surprised where you end up!

We love to see and hear about your adventures in the kitchen! Please leave a comment or tag me on Instagram with @TheFryFarmette and #TheFryFarmette so we can cheer you on!

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