"So Sunday night, Meghan and Carter came to the house for a cooking class. But instead of doing the usual thing and walking them through a couple of recipes, I wanted to try something different. I love recipes as much as the next guy, but it does seem to me that they are an imperfect way to learn to cook. Sure, a well-written recipe can teach you how to re-create a specific dish, but that's a different thing from actually knowing how to cook, isn't it?
"What I wanted to try out was more along the lines of teaching the structure of a dish, how it is put together. Rather than the details of a recipe (1/2 teaspoon of this, 1/4 cup of that), I wanted to see if I could teach them to prepare a dish by explaining its general outline, allowing for (even encouraging) the kind of freedom to experiment and personalize we all want to enjoy when we cook."
Russ walks Meghan and Carter through a few classic dishes -- roast chicken, pasta and salad -- exploring the structure of each dish to show how it can be varied and adapted to create a variety of additional potential dishes and meals.
Want recipes? Follow along and take notes as Russ breaks down each dish, and see what flavor combinations inspire you.
Finally, Russ wrote a great story a few years ago exploring pasta as a simple solution to the weeknight meal, and included a recipe for pasta with broccoli and Italian sausage. You can find the recipe below.
All set? Than go forth and have fun cooking!
Pasta with broccoli and Italian sausage
Total time: 25 minutes
Note: The recipe calls for sausage, but prosciutto will work too. Broccoli is a no-brainer, but try the Chinese kind for a change of pace. Finally, you can go meatless with capers and olives, unless you want anchovies too.
1 head broccoli (about 3/4 pound)
2 links fresh Italian sausage ( 1/4 to 1/2 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil