Sorry I am just now seeing all these….
kay01: Sauces are a huge one, and knife skills aren’t incredibly important unless someone is grading you. The most important think about knife cuts is just keeping food pieces about the same in size so they cook at the same rate, being pretty isn’t necessary. The biggest thing I would suggest is to start being really creative, and really thinking about what you are doing and how to put things together. This of course depends on your skill level already, but try things that are very basic, and try not to use a recipe. Taste and figure it out yourself, you’ll be amazed how much more quickly you learn that way. Start listening more to what the food is telling you, and less what the book says. This will make you a better cook compared to anything else.
FoolsintheRain: One of my favorite sites is foodgawker.com. It has photos of the most recent/popular recipes from foodblogs. They also have advanced search, so you can enter ingredients and see what comes up. It’s great for being creative, and has a huge selection all for free. Also, I have tons of cookbooks as my SO is also a chef. I just open something and there is at least 10 recipes per book that I never tried or forgot about.
As for groceries, I always have tons of spices. Pretty much everything you can think of, so I am never thinking “do I have herbs de provence?”, and then get home to find that you have to change your recipe. I always have organic chicken stock, carrots, onion, celery, to deepen flavors in a pinch. I always have all sorts of asian ingredients, sauces and such. I always have canned tomato on hand, I feel that it is something I am always needing. I always have a variety of starches (lentils, pasta shapes, rices, quinoa, grain blends) so I can fancy up even a simple chicken dish. Also, a rotisserie chicken is my go-to anytime I have a recipe calling for cooked chicken. You just can’t get the same flavor from your home ove, and it’s worth the extra $2 to buy it cooked and save you time. I also love a salad dressing called OKA’s Miso dressing, it’s a creamy dressing, yet very healthy and not very processed, which is rare for salad dressings.
kate02121: You poor thing! I would go crazy if I fell in love with a man who didn’t eat, but I’m a chef, so of course it would be hard for me. Good for you for being able to make dinner that makes you both happy. I have a delicious Pasta Blognese recipe, which I assume your Darling Husband would like, unless he really wants a piece of meat. It’s also a wonderful way to hide some veggies that he can’t taste. This is almost my exact recipe, http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/ragu-bolognese-mario-batali , though I usually change up the meat, because it is very hard to find ground veal in the hippie town I live in. I often use a spicy italian sausage instead. My suggestion to you is to puree all the vegetables, he shouldn’t figure it out. Now that I think about it, will he even eat tomato sauce? If not, try me again:)
As for short ribs, I adore them and dont make them enough. I actually remember breaking school rules in my culinary school, and I made short ribs in my dorm. Insurance didn’t cover cooking in the rooms. Anyway, I’m going to tell you more the important parts to making short ribs, more than a recipe, because you can find a recipe anywhere that you like. First off, season and sear the meat. This means high high heat, you are trying to build flvor on the bottom of the pan and on the meat, and to create a seal for the juices to stay in the meat. The meat should not be cooked, just browned on all sides. Then add some butter to your browned up pan, and add your arromatic vegetables. You can strain them out later, but do not leave them out just for your Darling Husband. You need them. Then add some flour and stir it into the veggies. I would then usually add some red wine or balsamic, and reduce it until almost gone. Put your meat back in, any herbs you’d like, and cover 3/4 of the way with beef stock. Cook for 3-4 hours on low, the longer the simmer the better. They should be wonderful, and you should be able to pull the bones right out when they are cooked all the way.
Cynderbug: I believe I have only made spaetzle once, and that was in Culinary school. I did however see on TV recently this recipe, which looked promising http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/Spaetzle-Michael-Symon . I believe he puts the dough on a cutting board, then balanec the cutting board over the edge of the boiling water, then gets a bench scraper and dips it in the hot water. He then makes tiny slices in the dough, scraping each slice into the hot water. They looked gorgeous, just not the traditional way, almost more like gnocchi.