Learn to cook in 2012

Claire Robinson hosts “5 Ingredient Fix” on Food Network.

If a laundry list of ingredients intimidates you out of the kitchen and into the pizza place next door, Claire Robinson, host of Food Network’s “5 Ingredient Fix,” says you’re not alone.

“People get angry when they see 27 ingredients in a recipe and they’re trying to learn to cook,” the TV chef says. “I don’t have 27 ingredients in my kitchen right now and I’m a chef!”

When it comes to preparing great food, Robinson swears that less really is more.

“If you choose fewer ingredients, then you’re able to control the quality of ingredients that you’re putting in your body,” she says.

For anyone whose resolution is to cook more — or to just learn how to cook — Robinson thinks going by the book will only take you so far.

“Following recipes isn’t teaching you how to cook,” she says. “You’re the executive chef of your kitchen. Read a recipe, make it and then add to it.”

What’s in her kitchen
(and should be in yours)

Pantry
Balsamic vinegar
Cooking oil
Finishing oils, like truffle (“You don’t want to cook them — they’ll change their flavor.”)
Spices and spice blends
Fresh herbs (“Rosemary grows really easily. So does mint.”)
Nuts
Chocolate (“You can melt it and dip food into it. I add chili [pepper] to it. You can infuse flavors into it.”)

Fridge
Butter
Bacon (“I use it as a flavoring agent.”)
Eggs
Cheese (“I always have a parmesan reggiano.”)
Fat-free Greek yogurt (“I can make healthier versions of things with it.”)

Weekend recipe: Roasted grape tomatoes

(Serves 8)

Ingredients:
4 cups grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, peeled

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle 3 tablespoons olive oil over the grape tomatoes and garlic cloves, and sprinkle with salt, pepper.

2. Pour the tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves in a 9-by-13 glass-baking dish or a rimmed half sheet tray, ensuring they are in just one layer. Roast for 20 minutes, and then stir. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of hot water if too dry in appearance. Return to the oven and cook for 20 to 30 more minutes. When ready, the tomatoes will have begun to shrivel and the liquid in the dish will have thickened. Serve hot from the oven as a side dish or add just 2 more ingredients and morph them into another recipe — visit Metro.us for ideas.

TIP: Taste one of your raw grape tomatoes and if it is not flavorful, add a pinch of sugar to help bring out that incredible sweetness you find in a perfect and in-season grape tomato.


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