Iowa City Scratch Cookery

In-Home Cooking Lessons From An Expert

Summertime Update

It has been some time since I last posted, but don't worry, I've been staying busy all summer. I thought I would catch everyone up on a few fun lessons I worked on over the last few months. The first lesson I'll mention, I did a "pizza party" lesson for a father and daughter; we covered thin crust and Chicago-style. I demonstrated how to prepare a simple tomato sauce, how to work with the dough, and how to easily rig a standard oven to bake like a commercial pizza oven. 

Another lesson this summer had a French theme. We prepared trout Meuniere Amandine, which is trout with brown butter, almonds, parsley, and lemon. That dish was made even more French by serving it over Ratatouille; a stewed vegetable dish of eggplant, tomatoes, red pepper, and zucchini.

Last week was an Italian lesson for my vegetarian clients. We prepared fresh pasta for ravioli and tortellini. The filling was roasted butternut squash with thyme, garlic, and mascarpone cheese. I taught my clients how to prepare a simple brown butter and sage sauce, and we accompanied the pasta with a roasted medley of carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. For dessert we made a simple lemon curd with blueberries and Chantilly cream.

The last client I'll mention commissioned me for a series of five basic cooking lessons. Each week I would show up and teach her a different meal that wouldn't take more than an hour to prepare, had less than ten ingredients, and was relatively healthy. I covered a variety of cooking techniques, we got a chance to work with 5 different proteins, and I showed how simple cooking can be with the proper preparation and planning. At the end of the series, I presented a booklet of all the recipes to the client, but they're more than just recipes. They are the building blocks to becoming a competent cook. My advice to any aspiring home cook who doesn't know where to start is to choose 5 to 10 basic meals and cook those meals a lot. Once you become proficient at those you can create countless variations simply by substitution; swap shrimp for scallops, rosemary for thyme, or pearl barley for brown rice. My client just needed some exposure to real cooking in a familiar environment. She now has five great meals anytime she needs to feed friends or family.