The Fearless Cooking Club is a video training program that includes tons of printable cooking charts and a 24-7 cooking support community. New modules with 10-20 videos and cheat sheets are released every single month. The FCC contains everything I wished I had when I wanted to learn to cook, and again wished for when I was determined to up my cooking game. Instead I had to go to culinary school. Now I’ve put all of my knowledge into the FCC, just for you. Basically, I’m going to turn you into a ninja cook. You’ll have me by your side, personally, every step of the way.
When it’s the rainy season, I want sunny FRUIT. There’s not a lot growing this time of year, but take heart: frozen fruit it a great option — and I swear! You’re not compromising your health or ideals. Here’s why: Frozen fruit can be fresher and more high quality than the fresh fruit you buy in the produce aisle. Yes, you read that right. Let me explain. Fruit picked for fresh sale is often picked long before it’s ripe, leaving it to ripen off the vine or branch. They do this because under-ripe fruit is easier to transport without damage. This is the case even for organic fruit.
Every time I make this cake, people raise an eyebrow at the addition of oats. They don’t consider them a dessert ingredient outside of oatmeal cookies. That’s too bad, because when tossed with butter and honey, then toasted, oats take on a super crispy, crunchy texture that’s missing from the vast majority of the desserts I’m served. The lesson here? There are two:
When it comes to flavor, there are two primary factors: 1) What we have, and 2) what we do with it. We may have a pantry full of goodies, but if we don’t know how to use them — or better yet, how to enhance them — then what good are they? Take these lemon halves, for example. Just a regular Meyer lemon, but what we’ve done here is placed it face-down in a cast iron skillet to give it a good sear. Why? Because that searing causes the sugars in the lemon to caramelize, which then enhances not only its flavor properties, but also its aesthetic qualities. (I mean, come on… how gorgeous is that seared lemon?) While the searing might not necessarily affect the flavor of the juice, it will affect anything you used pieces of the lemon on. Think of lemon slices on a fillet of salmon, used to garnish a lemon pie, or even a gorgeous wedge slip onto the rim of a gin and tonic, which would allow the smoky aroma to permeate every sip.
We’re in the homestretch of winter, inching into what looks to be a dreary spring time that will hopefully yield a profusion of flowers and produce come summertime. As someone who suffers from seasonal depression (AKA Seasonal Affective Disorder ) this time of year is especially tough for me. 🤕😵
This is my favorite pizza, a pizza Margherita. It’s seriously one of the most delicious things in the world. Look closely and you’ll notice there are really only three ingredients besides the crust: tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil. How can three ingredients bring so much flavor?
This shot is from the photo shoot of my cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese. Me looking over proofs shot by Matt Armendariz and styled by Adam Pearson. It’s a week I go back to in my head often — I dream of having a studio filled with dishes and fabrics, but more important, I miss the energy of that week: a handful of passionate people working together to cook, style, shoot, and eat. Creating art and then immediately letting it go.
An easy way to cut through all of that fat and salt is… a huge pile of pickled carrots, daikon, and cabbage. Plus a creamy cilantro dressing with lots of green flavor, a fluffy cloud of cilantro greens, and an extra lime wedge to push it over the top and into #flavortown.
Ok, let’s talk salt and acid… two of the most important tools in your cooking arsenal. They bring simple ingredient to life. They transform any dish from “meh” to “WOW.” This dish, a basic red-braised pork from the cookbook Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees, is a perfect example. It’s flavor profile comes primarily from shaoxing rice wine (acid) and two kinds of soy sauce (salt + #umami). And of course, slow cooking — which is a HUGE flavor factor in and of itself.
This simple Persian spiced veggie dip is another great example of flavor in action. Plain yogurt is gussied up with a few herbs and spices, but nothing extravagant. When it comes to layering flavor it pays to be smart about what you’re creating. You need to add only what works well together… without muddying the flavor.