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18 Reasons
San Francisco, CA
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Sundays September 9th, 16th, & 23rd  
with Jill Santopietro and at 18 Reasons

Sure, we love a good recipe and cookbook, but having worked as a recipe writer and editor for the last ten years, Jill Santopietro learned that for most cooks, including herself, recipes become crutches. We often follow them blindly without ever questioning why we do something or what a certain ingredient does to the flavor and texture of the dish.

The goals of this 3-class course (which is the first part of a two-course series) are to teach you: 1) the fundamentals of composing a well-balanced dish, and 2) how to choose and carry out a cooking method. The hope is that by the end of the course you may cook without a recipe. That's not to say recipes are bad. It's quite the opposite  there's always a learning opportunity in a recipe. But since recipes are a dime a dozen, we'll spend time learning to taste (understanding flavor composition) and learning how to use a particular technique to create desirable textures and flavors.

Through the structure below, I'll share some tried-and-true recipes I've relied on for years. I'll cover some classic building blocks of cooking. Whereas in a traditional course you'd spend days, if not weeks, on sauces, I'll cover a sauce when it's appropriate  i.e. after cooking a roast chicken, it's a perfect time to make a sauce with drippings, roux, and chicken stock. Throughout the course, you'll learn knife skills and shortcuts towards becoming a more efficient cook.
I. Flavor Composition
We'll discuss and experiment with dish composition, focusing on the following flavors: sweet, sour, salt, fat, heat, (and sometimes umami and bitter). We'll touch on balancing these flavors as you cook a dish.

II. Learning Technique
Week 1 (September 9)
Cooking in a pan over high heat. (Searing.)
What foods lend themselves well to searing? We'll cover which foods to sear, how to prep ingredients and choose pans. We'll discuss cooking oils, when to coat foods in flour, and when to cover the pan. We'll go over how and when to season items, and when to combine this technique with others  re: searing meat and then finishing in the oven, as with thick pork chops.

Week 2 (September 16)
Cooking in the oven using dry heat. (Roasting.)
Why is a roast chicken so good? Which foods are great to roast? We'll roast a whole chicken as well as pork shoulder and vegetables. We'll discuss how to prep, season, tie, and cook the food. We'll also cover what to do after roasting: how to make a few great sauces and a stock with a leftover carcass.

Week 3 (September 23):
Slow cooking using wet heat. (Braising.)
Why do tough cuts of meat, with bone and fat, lend themselves best to braising? Braising at low heat with moisture for a long time softens the tissues and allows flavors to develop. You can braise almost anything but there's a reason braised foods are traditionally fatty and tough: coq au vin (made with an old rooster not a young chicken) or beef short ribs. The moisture pulls out the juices from the fat and bone to yield a moist, delicious meat and rich sauce.

About Jill:
Jill is a food writer, recipe tester and developer, and cooking instructor. Most recently she was the senior food editor at Chow.com. Prior to her westward move, she worked as a recipe writer and tester, food stylist, and journalist at The New York Times Magazine. While atThe Times, she had a cooking show called "Kitchen 4B" (formerly "Tiny Kitchen") http://www.jillsantopietro.com/kitchen4b.html. To see more, go to www.jillsantopietro.com.


18 Reasons (View)
3674 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
United States



Minimum Age: 21
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!


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