The thing is, you can’t not cook for 14 years and then expect FABULOUS, like you are some kind of super hero, doing a fast one in a phone booth and coming out ready to serve in your super suit.
In case you haven’t really seen your kitchen for a while, I’m on a little mission to get you back in there with just a few hints on what to make, and how to make it–no need for tights.
Rule 1: buy yourself the best ingredients you have available to you–ingredients that make it hard to think about anything else once you have them in the bag.
Rule 2: try a week with no soda, and nothing with additives or preservatives.Â You are looking for food that is as close to it’s original form as you can get it.
Rule 3:Â make your own stock (start with vegetable or chicken).Â This may sound like a small thing, but this is what is going to make you feel like you can cook with the rest of them.Â And you can do it.Â Fill a pan with water, throw in the bones (1 lb.).Â Bring to a boil, toss out the water, new water, same bones, and add a piece of celery, a carrot and an onion.Â Even better, add a piece of parsley and a bay leaf.Â Let it simmer, and skim every once in a while for an hour (or 2).Â Use it or freeze it.
Rule 4:Â Stick to things like:
omelettes with a gorgeous cheese melted inside, toast from bread that is so good it makes you want to cry, and a braised or sauted vegetable along, with the best olive oil you can find, sea salt and a grind of pepper
a roasted chicken (try just the breasts with skin on bone, season them sear them skin side down, shove a few sprigs of rosemary under them and a few whole cloves of garlic.Â Let them roast in the oven at 400 degrees until just cooked through), roasted potatoes and roasted broccoli.
Sizzle a few whole green onions until dark green, and then set them on a plate; in the same pan, sear a piece of salmon in that beautiful olive oil after you have given the fillet a good sprinkle of sea salt, and cook until it is a gorgeous brown. Flip.Â Cook over medium heat on the other side until nearly cooked through.Â Serve with a smashed avocado and potato salad that is nothing more than hot potatoes, smashed, then drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
Make potato leek soup (2 ingredients, unless you want to add your homemade stock to the potatoes and leeks)
Make meat balls and a spicy tomato dipping sauce on the side and big garlicy croutons.
Make rice in one pan, and in the other pan, saute one onion and 2 cloves of garlic.Â Add a sprig of thyme and a bay leaf.Â When the onion is completely soft, as if it never knew what crunchy was, add a teaspoon of chipotle pepper in adobe sauce.Â Add a few whole tomatoes from a can of San Marzano, that you squish in with your hand.Â Rinse a can of black beans (you can make them next week), and add those.Â If you made that stock, add a little of that as well.Â When these have simmered for at least 20 minutes, give them a good squeeze of fresh lime juice and serve them with a pile of shredded cheddar and the rice. (–and tomato salad and avocado salad and a dish of new radishes)
Make pasta with lemon zest, red pepper flakes, sauted garlic (fresh only), with a little chopped parsley thrown into the garlic pan, toasted fresh breadcrumbs, and a grating of parmigiano reggiano.Â Have a salad of arugula greens on the side with just beautiful olive oil, lemon and salt.
Make a pan of garlicky fresh (look the fishmonger in the eye and ask for the truth) mussels, with white wine and serve with that bread to die for that you are buying now.
Make a homemade mayo and drizzle it over halved and hardly set boiled eggs.Â Serve with proscuitto, carrot sticks, the inside stalks of celery and a the prettiest dish you have of olives.
See how it feels.