Improvisational Tuscan-Provençal-Catalan Cookery (and other good stuff to eat)
Welcome to our "improv" cooking network - simple Italian, Tuscan, Provençal, Catalan, French and "American peasant" recipe ideas
Our blog is all about improvising a great dish to suit your own tastes, to use what's available to you, and to have fun.
To see some of the ideas that we and our friends have improvised, select the "Recipe Ideas" link in the menu at the top of the page, or use the "Search How I Taught My Brother to Cook" search function in the top right corner of this blog.
You'll find hundreds of pictures of dishes we've have made up - with some hints as to how we made them. The rest is up to you. We are just your muse for your own cooking creations.
If you have more time, read some of our blogs and post your own comments, or watch some instructional videos.
A Food and Wine Lovers Travel Note
If you're traveling to Italy, John highly recommends visiting the premier wine-growing region in Italy - Piemonte - where Barolo and Barbera wines come from. And while you're there stay in the little hilltop town of Vinchio where Mario and Marisa will treat you like family in their charming and quiet little B&B called
And if you go in the Fall, you can enjoy white truffle hunting with their friend and consummate winemaker Luigi Castino at his nearby winery.
Respect your food. Play with it too.
How many recipes do you have on your kitchen shelf, if you add up all your cookbooks? Ten thousand? Probably more! You like to cook, but searching for a recipe that matches your mood and your pantry has become a chore. It’s time to leave rote instructions behind and unleash the confidence to improvise, and discover a style all your own.
Brothers Patrick and John Barrows want you to think more about your food, but not to stress over it. Taking cues from the peasant cuisines of the North of Italy and the South of France, their approach is fresh, simple and honest. Local in-season vegetables, the kind of meat that’s handed over the counter by an expert in an apron instead of shrink-wrapped, fresh eggs for hand-made pasta-- these home cooks show that the more you embrace a pallette of basic high-quality ingredients, the more you and your family will enjoy what you’re putting in your mouths, and realize that convenience foods aren’t saving you time or money, and might be sapping your soul.
“How I Taught My Brother To Cook” is part family memoir, part cookbook and part raucous sibling rivalry. Most of all it’s a story of two men’s journey: to embrace their family roots in rural Italy and upstate New York, put good food on their family’s tables, and avoid the anxiety over diet fad and fashion that afflicts most Americans. Weaving a dialogue in recipes and techniques, the brothers take a “lowfalutin’” approach, though they rarely agree on whose approach is the more unpretentious. Bring your own opinion to the countertop conversation, and your memories of what your own grandparents and parents and favorite aunt fed you, and renew your joy in food.