Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life Lessons in the Kitchen

Last night we had friends over to redeem their wedding gift certificate: a his-n-hers cooking lesson. They're two of the busiest people I know, so I wanted to teach them how to make dishes that are simpler than they seem and that they'd want to make again. Italian's always a winner, so that was our cuisine.

I feel like I learned more than I taught.

I learned that it's okay to strip down the agenda. Casey and Missi were just returning from four days of camping, so they were tired when they got here, and it was a little late when we started. Instead of teaching them to do everything on the menu, I went beyond prepping and made some of the simpler things myself in advance. I selected two items to focus on teaching them: pasta and tiramisu.

A pasta machine can be an intimidating contraption, but once you give it a go, you realize it's not so difficult. And once you've had fresh, homemade pasta, you never want the dried-stuff-in-a-box again. So I talked them through making and rolling dough, cutting fettuccine and assembling ravioli.

Ravioli: Hide the yummy filling between a couple of pieces of dough and glue 'em together with a painting of egg.

Fresh fettuccine: Putting those Play-Doh skills to practical use. This is waaaay more fun--and tastier, too! They were impressed with the pasta maker and pleased to know that it doesn't cost a gazillion dollars. I see more fresh pasta in their future.

I learned that in this setting, you don't have to sweat too much technique. After all, this isn't for a grade. The tiramisu wasn't quite as voluminous as it could have been, but I figured it was more important to demystify the dish than to get into the minutiae of folding the yolk mixture with the whipped egg whites just-so for maximum volume. The results tasted great.

Divide and conquer: Missi combined the yolks and sugar,
while Casey focused on frothing up the egg whites.

And I learned that it's okay to set something on fire--within reason. And that you don't have to panic if it happens. While I was busy explaining how to broil the bruschetta without setting it on fire, IT CAUGHT FIRE! (There's a humility lesson in there, too.) But a quick dousing in the sink took care of that, and, after laughing our butts off and taking pictures with the cremated bread, we moved on to make the pasta while Andy produced some relatively carbon-free bruschetta. The bruschetta was supposed to be a starter, but we had it later with the pasta and enjoyed the tomato-bread salad as a starter. No problem!

Which wine pairs best with charcoal?

Essentially, it's all about having a good time, so if everything isn't explained to the n'th degree, that's okay. We had fun and enjoyed each other's company, and the food wasn't half bad either.

Most importantly, we made memories. That's a gift we all received, one that doesn't need exchanging, can't break and won't gather dust.

1 comment:

sis003 said...

What a wonderfully relaxed homecoming meal and treat of learning new ways of having fresh foods. It all sounds perfect, even the charcoal bruschetta! It's obvious that good memories were the main course, and what better fare can you have? Carol, you know how to make life flow in the right direction!