To become a fine cuisine artist, you do not have to be trained in a cooking school or have a mother who worshiped Betty Crocker. However, you must have an innate desire to learn from your past cooking and not let anything go to the dinner table that is less than your best.
Experimental theatre of cooking. The best way to learn how to do anything, including cooking, is to practice, practice, practice! The art of cooking must be developed not only through trial and error but also through specifically following recipes. Many people believe that a great chef never uses a recipe, but that is not true. Great chefs have many recipes memorized, as well as developing variations of their own on traditional dishes. Do not be afraid to experiment, but remember to experiment with small portions in order to not waste food, money or time.
The recipes. The key to following a recipe is using exact precision. Do not, I repeat, do NOT use substitutions if you can help it. The only substitutions which have been used in this household for many years have been replacing vegetable oil with butter and replacing every 1 cup of sugar with 2/3 cup of honey, since honey is naturally sweeter and richer than sugar. If you do not have the appropriate equipment to follow your recipe exactly, you must purchase it. Keep in mind that there is a difference in total heat content capabilities between metal cake pans and Pyrex casserole dishes. Metal cookware tends to heat up much more quickly and, depending upon the thickness of the dish, hold heat longer.
From scratch. Another key to good cooking is to make everything from scratch. One of the banes of the busy household is the belief that boxed, pre-made sets of ingredients are the same thing and can be substituted. This is inaccurate, because boxed ingredients tend to have preservatives and extra materials which dilute the flavor and give your food a more institutional taste. Home cooking should never be the same as hospital food! If your recipe book calls for pre-made cake mix or biscuit mix, either construct the ingredients yourself or move on to a different recipe. There are many cookbooks which list ingredients from scratch without devolving into “quick, easy fixins!” If you do not have just such a high-quality cookbook, you might consider purchasing one.
Developing your own style. After you have become talented at fixing recipes from a cookbook, you might have noticed that your feel for which and how many ingredients to put together has evolved. This innate sense of what is right and what tastes good is an indication that your development as a cook is progressing. Continue using recipes, but also experiment with added ingredients or close substitutions to see if they might taste better. Some avid cooks know how they want something to taste and they spend years developing the right amount of unique ingredients. Perhaps you are not that ambitious, but remember: there are still many variations on the same old traditional recipe, and you might consider trying a few of them out. You will feel a sense of satisfaction the first time someone asks you for your recipe.
Techniques for developing your cooking are not difficult. Do not over-complicate the process by using too many detailed techniques, when you could be more basic in your methods. This should be an enjoyable art-form, instead of a rigid boot camp. Food is one of the best ways through which to develop your creative skills!