One of the biggest factors in cooking good food, is using good food to cook. This is a point we stress over and over, with every kid that comes through out cooking program.
Not expensive food, not even “fancy” food (though that can be a lot of fun, when you can swing it), but good, real, recognizable food.
Start small, instead of buying that can of diced tomatoes, buy three roma tomatoes (about the same price), dice them in a bowl, and sprinkle a little salt and sugar on them.
10 minutes later you’ll have the same, but far superior tasting ingredient: diced tomatoes in juice…and really, was it that hard? (…and it doesn’t taste like the can!)
And I’m not even going to bring up the subject of the health benefits of freshly made food, vs. pre-packaged.
Now, let’s take that one tiny step further…now that you have your diced tomatoes, is it really that much harder to dice up an onion, chop a little garlic, and squirt some olive oil in a pan?
Saute (that means a low fry in a small amount of oil) for 10 minutes. Toss in some fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and Italian parsley (which you can now buy pre-packaged in small amounts in just about an produce section) and your diced tomatoes, and give a stir.
Throw some salt and pasta in a pot…spaghetti, linguine, angel-hair, whatever, and let heat and water work it’s crazy magic for you. (Here are some tips for cooking perfect pasta!)
Meanwhile, grill a chicken breast, or cook and crumble some ground pork, or saute some zucchini slices, or if you’re feeling really crazy, poach a dozen little-neck clams in their shells with a little white wine…(don’t flip the clams), and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper…don’t worry about a bunch of spices, see the what food tastes like first, and to quote a guy I know…”Bam!” you’ve got a dish of pasta that probably cost less, and certainly tastes much better than you’ll ever get from that bottled muck on the shelves.
Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids.
Sprinkle on a tablespoon or so of fresh grated asiago cheese (it’s in the deli section, it’s expensive, and it’s worth it. Plus, a little goes a LONG way) and I promise you, I PROMISE you, you will never, willingly, go back to prepared, bottled “spaghetti sauce.”
Why’s it so darn good?
Not because it’s harder to make (it really wasn’t, was it?) Certainly not not because it was more expensive…it wasn’t, at least not much.
No, it tastes so darn good, because you used good food to make it!
Congratulations…you’re a cook.