A long time ago, I wrote about learning that pretty much any quickbread/muffin/coffee cake could be reduced to a simple proportion: 1, 2, 3. One part oil, two parts sugar, three parts flour. With that metric, I had banana bread, zucchini bread, carrot cake, and lemon muffins at my fingertips even when there were no cookbooks within reach.
Memorization may be beyond the pale, but I think it’s worth knowing a few recipes well, no matter how close at hand you keep your cookbook collection or bookmarked recipes from blogs. Cooking a favorite recipe is a different experience than cooking a brand new recipe: the smells strike you as familiar, you know when to turn the heat up or down, and you won’t be nervous about the food at a date or a dinner party–even if you’re nervous about the company, or the state of your apartment, or the quantity of wine in the fridge. . .
Here are a few favorite recipes I think of as classic. I’m curious–what recipes do you think every cook should master?
**9 Easy, Versatile Recipes You Might As Well Master**
1. Chicken Marbella. This marinated chicken was once a classic, and I’m on a mission to bring it back. Here’s the story: you do all the prep work the evening before you want to eat. Then add a few more ingredients, pop the chicken in the oven, and wait for dinner to be served. A hodgepodge of sweet, savory, and rich ingredients mingle to create a distinct and impressive flavor. Pictured above.
2. Baked Shells with Tomatoes and Mozzarella. This recipe is a nice way of saying that you’ve got to master homemade tomato sauce. There is no better meal – for one, for two, for a crowd – than marinara sauce cooked up. Yet as soon as you toss excellent sauce with fresh mozzarella, a lot of parmesan, and shells, you’ve created a comforting baked pasta main that you can bring to a potluck or easily make the center of your meal.