Wednesday, September 9, 2009

foodie 101

my brother aaron & his girlfriend sarah came over this weekend for their very first class in our exclusive cooking school. (it is so exclusive that so far, they are the sole participants.) we are so official: we made up special folders for them with all of the evening's recipes, and well as brief yet enlightening biographies on their two awesome instructors (matt and myself.) {in case you are wondering, our tuition is very steep: it involves babysitting (which we immediately cashed in last night to go see julie & julia) and running to the store on the way over to bring whatever last minute food items we realize we don't have on hand.}

once the syllabus and menu was out of the way, we got cooking! 
(note: these photos do no justice to the fact that sous chef sarah worked very hard and tackled lots of food making. for some reason i only captured aaron in the act of actually preparing food. i also neglected to get pictures of half the food we made and the finished product.)

our menu, (which we pillaged from various alice waters cookbooks and mark bittman's how to cook everything):
  • baked figs stuffed with goat cheese
  • homegrown garden lettuces with basic vinaigrette
  • meatballs with a simple tomato sauce
  • homegrown green beans
  • homemade herbed ricotta ravioli with butter and parmesan
  • raspberry sorbet with shortbread
we began with dessert so it would have time to freeze (raspberry sorbet) and chill before baking (shortbread cookies). here sarah helps aaron strain the berry puree so it is seedless once we put it in our ice cream maker.

an important thing to remember when cooking is that you need a snack so you don't get too hungry, or nibble so much along the way that there is no food left when it is time to eat! (or maybe i am just justifying our appetizer) with this in mind we started with the figs stuffed with goat cheese & baked. yum. even aaron, goat cheese hater, was down for the goodness.
with so many items on the docket, we had quite a full kitchen. food preparation was happening on every single surface; add in 4 adult bodies and a toddler, and it was definitely a party.
little m attempted to "help". or something along those lines...
aaron gets to work making the pasta dough, under matt's tutelage, while sarah and i make the tomato sauce and prep the green beans.

aaron grates onion into the meatball mixture...
and attempts to squelch his tears with matt's sunglasses. not so effective.
lots of backyard herbs to add to our various recipes.
meatballs ready to go into the oven. (they are my favorite!!!!! well, they are my super favorite when he throws in pinenuts, but we forgot to add them this time, so i demoted them to just my favorite.)
pasta rolled out and dotted with ricotta filling. look at that focus!
pressing the pasta into individual ravioli.
ravioli ready to go!

and then, somehow, i stopped documenting the evening. maybe it was that we slipped into a food coma...instead of one big meal we just ate as things came out and took little breaks over edibles. 

despite matt and my bickering over the tomato sauce, i don't think we scared our students off! next class? improvise and make a full meal using only the ingredients in the pantry, fridge and freezer. unfortunately sarah's pantry consists of...literally nothing, and aaron's stove is a hot plate, so looks like we'll be back in our own kitchen for round two!


  1. I think their final exam should be set up like Iron Chef or Chopped. Make something divine with these set ingredients, under time pressure, while the cameras roll, and try not to lose any fingers.

    I've gotta try those figs.

  2. I want your ravioli recipe! Last Christmas, inspired by your food writing, I put together a squash ravioli (w/ brown butter sage sauce--sage from our garden) and for the non-squash eaters (lwp), a ricotta-prosciutto-sage ravioli.

    What a lovely, satisfying way to spend an evening! Little M is a lucky girl & I hope her taste buds remain open. My Q, who used to eat anything, is now remarkably narrow in what she will eat. Fortunately, she likes quiche lorraine, which is what is for supper tonight...

  3. I would LOVE to know how you make your meatballs and homemade sauce. I have two "men" (husband and my almost teenager) who absolutely love spaghetti and meatballs. When you said pinenuts in the meatballs, my mouth watered. Mmmmm ... so yummy!

  4. ahhhhhhhh! i can hardly stand the perfect-ness of this post!

  5. looks fun! love that you swapped for babysitting...very smart.

    any chance those were Jonah's homegrown green beans from Nancy's house on the menu?

  6. I'm so happy I've officially made your blog! SOOOO much fun...I can't wait to do it again. LOVED learning all the tricks of the trade from you and Matt...and EATING!!!! Anytime you need a babysitter or someone to use up all your food, you know who to call:)

  7. Don't be decieved bloggers, I really did ALL the work. Sarah just stood there and ate all the appetizers. (Now I wait for Susannah to berate me in another blog)

  8. um...

    can i come over and just taste everything?



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