We don’t usually think of the kitchen as a place of learning. A studio, maybe, where meals are constructed—dough sculpted into bread and sauce painted across plates. Or an office, where cans are filed by size and content. Perhaps it’s better described as a garage where loosely assembled sandwiches spill over their edges, dribbling mustard across the floor—and grease stains are part of the ambiance.
But it’s also true that there are shelves of books lining my kitchen island and an assortment of measuring devices tucked into drawers. And while there aren’t rows of desks, there are other signs of curious minds at work.
At its heart, any kitchen is a classroom. After all, a simple chemistry experiment is behind the air bubbles that create a light cake, and a mathematic equation is what helps the cook half a recipe when cooking for one, or double it for a party. Problem solving is what salvages a batter that’s too wet and guides the question of how much salt is just right. If you’re a food writer, the kitchen is also where carefully chosen words lead readers toward a tender muffin with a delicate crumb, versus one that lies solid and heavy in the pan.
This week my kitchen is a classroom in a more literal sense as well—as six students from The Girls’ Middle School gather round the center island to cook together. It’s intersession week—a mid-semester break with mini-classes exploring everything from surfing to sewing, computer animation to music recording. It’s a chance to experience school in a different way, in our case, through cooking and writing.
This week’s recipes were created, tested, styled and photographed by Emma P, Katelyn E, Caroline W, Tess M, Ashley J and Ariana C. You’ll notice two versions of each recipe, with tweaks and personal notes from each group of testers. Try our banana muffins made from a mix, but jazzed up with extra goodies like fresh strawberries and dark chocolate—
simple enough to throw together on a busy school day. And don’t miss our favorite in the test kitchen: roasted potatoes, smashed on the pan and baked a second time until crisp and golden on the outside, and mash-potato-creamy within. You may end up gobbling them directly from the baking sheet, like we did—with a drizzle of zippy, fresh parsley oil.
And on a day like today when deadlines loom, we toss a loose balsamic vinaigrette-dressed salad of spinach, parsley and arugula with sweet strawberries, chunks of ripe avocado, shaved shallot, honey-roasted almonds and shelled sunflower seeds (adjusting amounts as we please).
We hope you enjoy our learning. Oh, and stay tuned, because the week isn’t over yet. There’s more to cook…
Recipes for the Week:
And if you’re looking for something to do with fava beans, check out this article.