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Cooking Tips from "If You Can Make That, You Can Make This"

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blue pina coladas

One of my favorite cooking blogs is If You Can Make That, You can Make This. Written by Kate Knowles, a Manhattanite with British roots, I love this blog for many reasons - it's funny and well-written, the recipes are easy to follow, and everything I have made was completely delicious. Best of all, Kate makes even a non-cook like me feel like with just a little guidance, I can also be a gourmet chef.

Kate was inspired to start the blog after realizing she was continually sharing the same recipes and tips with her friends and family, and the blog was a way to "build the monologue into more of a dialogue."

Using "core recipes," Kate explains how you can learn to cook these dishes and then with minor tweaks make a variety of additional dishes. As Kate explains:

I think it'??s a good idea to master a technique '?? and by '??master'? I just mean, do it a few times in the privacy of your own kitchen until you are convinced that it works, it tastes good, and you'??re unlikely to mess it up. The trick then is to use it as a set of theme and variations.

Once you can make a tomato sauce you can make a tomato soup (add more stock) or make chicken cacciatore (add chicken) or penne alla vodka (add penne and vodka and a dash of cream) or spaghetti puttanesca (add spaghetti, olives, capers and anchovies. It'??s marinara sauce for a pizza or a puff pastry tart or for dipping crudités into. In short, once you can make tomato sauce, you can actually make dozens of things.

Kate's other tips for cooking include:

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  • Buy a pepper-mill that works.
  • Put water on to boil way in advance of you needing it, then put a lid on. Waiting for pasta water to boil can take forever when you really need it.
  • Store spices in a dark place (or the freezer) and be ruthless - they fade over time. If you've had it more than a year, chuck it.
  • If you don't actually like to cook, don't do it. Can you bring yourself to boil pasta? Add things you bought at the deli '?? artichokes, olives, tomatoes. Or buy bread and cheese and grapes. Or go in a mezze, humus and pita direction. Consider Affogato '?? balls of ice cream with espresso poured over the top.
  • Make up a batch of cocktails in a jug before your guests arrive. This makes everyone happy.


On Make This Make That you'll find more tips, core recipes (savoury and sweet), as well as recipes for everything from Blue Pina Coladas to Potato Rosti, which I find myself making weekly either for my family (works with eggs for breakfast, or as a side for dinner) or as for my go-to food for potlucks where, yes, they're a hit every time.

Momtrends was not compensated for this post.

Anna Sandler is a contributor to Momtrends and also writes a personal blog at

All illustrations from Kate Knowles, If You Can Make That You Can Make This.

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