1. Well if you want to start small you can do
and many home brewing stores sell their own small batch kits like this one for example.
you might be able to find a homebrew supply store near where you live that sells their own.
Or you might decide to just jump in and get a 5 gallon sized starter kit.
2. Until you really have a feel for the ingredients and your brewing processes you should probably just follow the tried and true recipes (or kits) other have formulated before you. As you get more comfortable you can start making modifications to the recipes and even begin formulating your own. There are several fantastic books on the topic of brewing and recipe formulation. You can also learn a fair amount of the information here on this forum, I know I have. Then, just brew what you like.
3. I'm not sure about the whole dried hops thing, But there are three main ways of brewing.
All extract, which utilizes dried and liquid malt extracts and usually pellet hops. You can steep specialty grains for more complexity and flavor
Partial Mash, which involves using mini mashes, which is mashing (controlled steeping) of base and specialty grains at certain temperatures and then using extract to bring the gravity up to target. This technique allows a brewer to achieve more customization to their beer without the need for all the equipment and boil scale required for batches that are all grains.
All-Grain, which involves using ground malts (base and specialty) and mashing them, which is 'basically' like controlled steeping where you utilize specific temperatures to allow the natural enzymes in the malt to convert the complex starches into tasty fermentable sugars.
A lot of people who start with all grain will utilize the BIAB(Brew In a Bag) technique which simplifies the process somewhat.
I use a Gatorade cooler to mash in. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/chea...version-23008/
The type of hops you use don't really change the brewing technique
heres a basic guide to the whole brewing process. http://www.howtobrew.com
Check out the stickies at the top of the subforums to find out more information and lastly, welcome