Mastering your culinary domain whether you aspire to make chicken soup like Mom or eggplant like Emeril Lagasse often requires more guidance than a classic cookbook can provide. Now, rather than shell out for lessons, you can hop online and learn to slice, spice and sauté like a cordon bleu. Just remember not to spill your béchamel on the keyboard.
Geeks in the kitchen
Whipping up a chocolate soufflé, right, is tricky, especially if you have no idea what soft peaks are. Enter the photo-rich blog Cooking for Engineers cookingforengineers.com. Before mulling your own cider, making lasagna or baking pecan pie, check the site to see how a dish should look at each stage. Learn culinary mechanics as you go. Created as an engineer's personal recipe repository, the site now has a cult following. A highlight: clever diagrams that summarize the steps in a recipe in compact, printable charts.
A pair of Australian amateurs produce Crash Test Kitchen crashtestkitchen.com,[an error occurred while processing this directive] one of the first cooking video podcasts. Unlike TV shows in which top chefs use snazzy gear to make gourmet cooking look easy, these shorts have bumbling on the menu. Their homey videos offer a realistic and entertaining view of home cooking.
Empty your fridge
If you hate throwing out leftovers, allrecipes.com has a handy feature. The free site will generate a list of recipes that use whatever you have on hand, omitting anything you would prefer not to add. Got some broccoli and beans but hate cheese? A quick search yields simple veggie soups and a stir-fry. You can even specify how much time you're willing to spend in the kitchen.
For anyone who considers cooking a science, cooksillustrated.com is an invaluable resource. Like a Consumer Reports for chefs, the ad-free site posts rigorous tests of ingredients, kitchen implements and recipes. The technical tips and equipment ratings are first rate. After a two-week free trial, full access is $25 annually.
If food porn turns you on ...
The Food Network's website, foodtv.com, features not only thousands of recipes from the likes of Bobby Flay but plenty of quick video lessons too. Rachael Ray demonstrates a one-minute party punch, while Tyler Florence explains how to make a simple salad dressing in seconds. For beginners, there are basic lessons on subjects like chopping vegetables, cleaning shrimp and rolling dough. The site is free, but many of the videos are preceded by brief ads.