A picture of a Julia Child quote: Always start out with a larger pot you think you need.

Lessons Learned

The process of bringing a Flying Aprons Tucson class to life is a labor of love for the awesome chefs, pastry chefs, bakers and mixologists. They spend hours creating menus and experimenting before you cook along with them.

From my unique vantage point, I’ve observed and learned some common ground tips that go beyond recipes and techniques. It’s the things the professionals teach us home cooks.

Mise en Place (Everything in Place). Kitchen efficiency starts with organization, taking the time to prep, weigh and measure ingredients.

Clean as you go. Cooking and baking are hard work. Who wants to face a mountain of mess afterwards?

Don’t forget to season and do it the right way. Salt brings out the flavor of ingredients, making them yummy. Season from above. It’s fun and a little dramatic to elevate your hand and arm and sprinkle kosher salt, freshly ground pepper or whatever so you can see it all over the food.

Acid. In addition to salt, vinegar or citrus amps up flavors. It’s not just for salsa and salad dressings.

Taste, taste, taste! Keep a good supply of spoons handy – tasting is one of the most important parts of cooking. Taste throughout the dish’s journey to the plate, not just at the end.

Stirring isn’t a cooking method. Baking, boiling, braising, grilling, poaching, roasting, sautéing and searing are cooking methods. The more you stir, the more you cool the food you’re trying to cook; put the spoon down and step away.

No poking, prodding or pressing. Yes, patience is a kitchen virtue. Let the ingredients tell you when they’re ready to flip once they release themselves. And two more, no peeking by lifting the lid and/or opening the oven door.

Spatchcock poultry. Removing the backbone then flattening poultry with your hands not only lessens the cooking time, but it also cooks more evenly and with more surface area, it gets crispy all over.

Knife safety. No one ever tries to catch a falling knife a second time.

Don’t overwork the dough. Enough said.

Love is the secret ingredient you can never add too much of.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen,

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 hothouse cucumber, halved, seeded, but not peeled
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
1-2 zucchini
4 plum tomatoes
1 red onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
23 oz. (3 cups) tomato juice
¼ cup white wine vinegar
¼ cup good olive oil
½ tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Roughly chop cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and onion into 1-inch cubes. Put each vegetable separately into a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until coarsely chopped. Don’t overprocess!
2. Combine vegetables in a large bowl and add garlic, tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and chill before serving. The longer it sits, the more the flavors meld together.

Leave a Reply