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Recipes are often simple techniques

We think of recipes as instructions that have to be followed exactly as they are written to create the desired results. A better way to look at recipes is as a technique, a guide not an absolute. That gives you the freedom to be inventive and adjust what you are making to suit your tastes.

During last Sunday’s cooking class, I explained how to make asparagus soup. What is wonderful about this soup is that it brings out the full flavor and freshness of this spring vegetable. But more than that, the power of this soup is that it is a technique, not just a recipe.

This cooking technique is the base for so many other vegetable soups. Change the vegetables, and the spices and you have an entirely different flavor palate. For example, if you substitute carrots for asparagus and change the spice to ginger, you’re serving a different soup using the same method.

Once you learn a technique, you have the freedom to create various versions of that one procedure. That is the definition of freedom in the kitchen.

This Sunday, I’m teaching a braised lamb recipe. What makes this recipe so amazing is the vegetable sauce that develops as the meat is cooking. But what do you do if you don’t like lamb? In this recipe, you can change the lamb ingredient to beef or chicken. The sauce is so good that if you have any leftovers, serve them over pasta. It’s simple; add a little pasta water to the sauce and serve it over noodles with grated parmesan. It’s a dish that keeps on giving. Wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on this dish just because you don’t like lamb?

Each time you learn a technique you are increasing your cooking repertoire. The trick is to look at the recipe with a broader perspective. Can this recipe be adjusted? Is it possible to change the protein? How about the vegetables or the seasonings?

Those simple questions, plus a little experimentation, and you have an important change that will allow your kitchen skills to flourish.

So, Sunday’s cooking class is called braised lamb, but it’s really for lamb, beef, or chicken, depending on your preference. The sauce stays the same and it is the sauce that is the magic of this dish.

You can find out more about this class and the upcoming classes

Braised Lamb

Sunday, March 12th at

4 p.m. EST


Classic French Lemon Tart

Sunday, March 26, 2023

4 p.m. EST


Asparagus Soup


Available at your convenience


Easter Egg Tree


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Le Kitchen Cookbook

A Workbook

Everything you need to know to be a good cook.

by Adeline M. Olmer

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