The Cook: An Introduction

Unlike the calculating Baker, the Cook is not afraid to embrace the chaos of a kitchen. Wielding both fire and steel, the cook harnesses the elements to cull new and intense flavors from common ingredients. The role of the cook is not one to be taken lightly, it requires fortitude and a bold spirit of exploration. The more experienced eschew classic recipe in favor of creativity and inspiration, relying on their skills with the various implements to chart a course through the unknown. But before starting your next adventure, make sure you have the appropriate questing gear and items!

The Cook’s Pantry

Butter – One of the most basic of all ingredients and the foundation for the class
Eggs–
As valuable as it is versatile. Make sure to always have a fresh dozen on hand.

Olive oil–
Available in many varieties, generally Spanish, Italian or Greek. Use more expensive richer flavored bottles for fresh applications, rather than ones that involve cooking.

Garlic –
an ingredient suitable for almost any dish, or for warding off vampires.
Peppers
– They come in many different colors, flavors, and pack different levels of punch, much like elixirs of dragonsbreath. Similar to those elixirs, all good adventurers know not to leave camp without some.
Onions –
It takes a stout warrior to stand up to the stinging effects of the onion. Chill them before you slice to reduce the tears.
Stock –
Quite nearly “primordial” broths perfect for soups, sauces and flavoring. Buy lower sodium varieties to control the amount of salt in a dish, though homemade is preferable.
Potatoes –
The most versatile vegetable in the kitchen, with nearly endless permutations and uses.
Ground beef –
Anything more lean than 90/10 (fat ratio) will become really dry when cooked. Combine leaner and fattier combinations to find the right balance.
Chicken breast –
Does everything taste like chicken or does chicken taste like everything? Either way, no refrigerator is complete without it.
Bacon–
While adventuring, the first thing any traveler worth his salt should pack is bacon. When cooking, always make it crisp. The world has little use for limp bacon.

Pepper
– Black pepper adds depth to any dish. Pepper mills are nice for table service, but for use in recipes have ground pepper on hand. It tends to be finer and allows for easier measurement.
Garlic Powder
– Best used when you want to add garlic flavor to a sauce or dish, but don’t want guests finding pieces of garlic. Perfect for rubs and vinaigrettes.
Salt
– The most villified ingredient other than high fructose corn syrup and anything with the word “hydrogenated” (transfat!) in it. Essential for bringing out the best flavors in other food.

(Note: all dried spices other than salt, are indeed perishable. As time passes they lose their potency. For best results, replace them every six months. Salt will last indefinitely.)

These simple ingredients are the foundation of all cooking. Without these cornerstones, you have little hope of every making anything that resembles the epic designs of this craft.

The Cook’s Arsenal

Chef’s knife – The primary tool, look for good balance. An elegant weapon for a more civilized cook.
Serrated knife –
Versatile for cutting through harder shells.
Paring knife –
Small but important for intricate cuts and peeling.
Carving knife/fork –
The ultimate weapon for slicing perfect portions.
Set of pots/pans –
Either non-stick or metal. Preferably a set that can go from stove-top to oven
Roasting pan –
The ideal vessel for roasting, braising and broiling.
Cutting board –
Various sizes and materials from wood to plastic for dealing with various food types

Wooden spoon –
The perfect implement for sauce making.
Spatula –
Metal or plastic depending on what type of pans you have (no metal tools on non-stick).
Dish towel –
As indispensable in the kitchen as it is anywhere else in the galaxy.
Tinfoil –
The perfect barrier against cooking Hell-fires which would otherwise render food charred.
Potholder –
Essential armor for those working in the kitchen

Vigilance –
Success or failure for the cook is a very fine line. The same forces that can bring forth incredible food will just as easily reduce a dish to utter ruin. A cook can never afford to allow his attention to waiver.

There is one recipe that all cooks should know and be ready to produce at a moments notice, it is your first level recipe: the frittata

Frittata

An Italian version of the omelet, the frittata is the perfect beginner dish for breakfast fans. Easy to make and endlessly versatile it really encapsulates the most basic premise of the cook. That simple techniques and fresh ingredients make all the difference. Its quick cooking time and ease of serving makes it great for feeding a large crowd. Though it derives part of its name from the Italian “to fry” the version here is baked. This makes it a little simpler, less time consuming and on the whole a little bit more healthy. Often found on brunch menus at Italian restaurants its well known as a popular way to discard of leftovers in Italy.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons of butter
3 medium eggs
1 tablespoon of milk
1/2 cup of diced onion
1/2 cup of diced peppers (any variety)
1/2 cup of crispy bacon
1/4 cup of grated cheese (any variety)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2. In a medium sized bowl whisk the eggs, milk, and spices.
3. Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.
4. Add the vegetables to the butter and saute until they are soft and begin to become translucent. Then add the cheese and bacon by crumbling it into the pan.
5. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, ensuring that it covers the vegetables and fills the pan completely. Let the egg set by leaving it over the heat for a minute.
6. Using a plastic spatula, run around the edge of the pan ensuring that the egg is separated from the pan itself. Merely separate the two, do not mix the mixture itself.
7. Place pan in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the top begins to become slightly golden and the cheese melts completely.
8. Remove from the oven, slice and serve.

(serves 2-3 people)

The advantage of the dish is its versatility, so virtually any vegetable or protein can be substituted for those that are listed. When deciding to add starches like potatoes blanch or par boil them first to reduce their cook time once they are added to the dish.

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