The newest and frankly cutest member of the online cooking community is Sargent Shakur Farrar, age 2½, who made his debut last year with his mother, Elise Peterson, on a segment they did together for Food52.
In the video, Los Angeles-based Peterson, an artist, writer, and cohost of the podcast “Cool Moms,” is making black bean curry. While she’s cooking, her little kitchen assistant reaches up to the counter, grabs a wooden spoon, and uses it to pull down chopped garlic, which he licks off the spoon. Later, she hands him a wedge of lemon and he sucks on it with relish. When it’s time to eat, he takes a thick slice of plantain she has sauteed in coconut oil and stuffs the entire round into his mouth. His eyes get big and he’s delighted with himself. He makes everything he eats look delicious. Honestly, you could watch this video over and over. Peterson’s food is very appealing and her little boy is endlessly amusing. Mother and son are soon launching “Cool Moms Cook” videos. “Cool Moms Cook” available on IGTV via @talkcoolmoms. www.eliserpeterson.com
I’ve been consuming cooking videos by the dozens, not just for the giggles, but because I learn something every time, more from them than from the many TV food shows and culinary competitions I watched at the gym in my former life, logging miles on a stationary bike. With no social life to speak of, and no gym, I finally have time to binge-watch all I want.
Also on Food52 is Boston chef Douglass Williams of Mida restaurant in the South End, making 12-minute duck breasts. He scores the thick fat skin on the breasts in a crosshatch pattern, puts them skin down in a skillet until they’ve rendered all the fat and the skin is golden. Then he sears the breasts on both ends, and finally on the bellies, rolling them on the rounded sides with two spoons, as he explains, like a boat in the water. The breasts rest on a rack, then the chef slices them thickly to reveal rare meat with a lovely sheen, which he garnishes with raisin jam, which we don’t get instructions for (and want!). www.food52.com
British TV star Jamie Oliver could make a PB&J sandwich interesting. In a lively video he calls “A Very British Bolognese,” he simmers root vegetables he’s bought ready-chopped at the supermarket with mushrooms, ground beef, and a bottle of pale ale. While it cooks, he makes cuts in squares of fresh pasta, spacing the cuts about an inch apart. When they’re out of the water, he says, they will open like a concertina, which they do — and look incredibly interesting. He grates cheddar over the beautiful pasta and tempting sauce (he did say this is a British version). His wife and children, including son Buddy, make a sweet cameo appearance. www.jamieoliver.com
Buddy Oliver, age 10, is doing his own videos. In one, he’s prepping crispy chicken in an outdoor kitchen, getting ready to bang the cutlets between two pieces of parchment he tells the audience, “We’re going to whack the chicken until it’s 1 centimeter. I’m kinda scared!” He twirls a rolling pin around and behind him before bashing the meat. You’re watching a mini-Jamie and he’s a hoot. www.jamieoliver.com
If your preteen has an affinity for the kitchen, the online classes offered by the Children’s Food Lab might interest you. They are taught by New York-based Jill Santopietro, who is also a mom, and intended for kids 9 years and up (adult supervision for ages 9 to 11). Students can sign up for Genius Cooking Group on Wednesdays to learn family dinners such as pasta carbonara, fish tacos, meatballs, veggie chili, or Great American Baking Class on Thursdays. www.childrensfoodlab.com
Food Lab founder Santopietro, a former Globe food section contributor, co-created and hosted cleverly produced cooking videos for The New York Times Magazine called “Kitchen 4B,” in which the skilled and amusing Santopietro managed to make dinners in the tiniest, best-equipped New York kitchen you’ve ever seen. Children’s classes cost $210 for 7 sessions. www.childrensfoodlab.com
It’s almost Rosh Hashanah and time to make matzo ball soup. Bill Parisi, a Chicago-based chef who spent 15 years in the industry and has Sicilian grandparents, makes what looks like extraordinary matzo balls. With a backward baseball cap, Parisi is in the kitchen, simmering chicken breasts in homemade chicken stock, shredding the meat, and turning out beautiful ping-pong-size balls. Gorgeous bowls of soup are garnished with spring onions and fresh dill. www.billyparisi.com
Janine Sciarappa of Belmont is the high-spirited and much-admired pastry chef in Boston University’s Certificate Program in the Culinary Arts (I teach food journalism in an adjacent master’s program). Privately, Sciarappa runs Sweet Lessons, which are now online — classes in puff pastry, brioche, French macarons, piping skills, Swiss and Italian meringues, Pavlova and dacquoise, panna cotta, crème Anglaise, eclairs and profiteroles, Paris-Brest, and any other classic European confection you can think of. Cost is $100 for a two-hour class. email@example.com
The tagline on Carla Tomasi’s e-mail reads: “Teacher/Pickler/Jammer/Baker/Preserver/Busy Body.” In a regular world, cooking teacher Tomasi is part of Latteria Studio in Rome; she now teaches on Zoom (in metric measurements). Typical subjects include giardiniera of vegetables, ravioli, semifreddo, cavatelli, and other pasta. She has an unusual payment schedule. Your fee is a donation of cat food — she has a list of gift cards you can buy and you decide how much — so she can continue to feed a feline colony in Rome of more than a dozen cats. firstname.lastname@example.org
Closer to home, Domenica Marchetti offers online pasta and preserving lessons from her beautiful kitchen in Alexandria, Va. Classes on stuffed pasta (ravioli, agnolotti) and homemade gnocchi are already sold out, but others are available. The popular cookbook author is the most down-to-earth teacher and has a huge following as @domenicacooks on Instagram. Cost is $70 for a two-hour class. www.domenicacooks.com
Asian at Home is hosted by charming Korean-born Seonkyoung Longest, a former comic-book cartoonist and belly dancer who learned to cook by watching TV food shows when she came to this country in 2009. Her Korean street toast, a simple wordless homemade video, involves sandwiching two pieces of toast with an egg omelet filled with cabbage, and a slice of ham, cheese that looks like Velveeta, a sprinkle of sugar, and a drizzle of ketchup and mayonnaise. In a later video, Longest makes another popular version from the Korean restaurant franchise Isaac Toast. This one adds a sauce made from kiwi, pineapple, mayonnaise, and honey. www.seonkyounglongest.com
If you’re a food enthusiast who aspires to cook like a pro, you can prep alongside a bona fide chef with Tasting Counter @ Home. The Somerville restaurant offers a three-course dinner whose zillion ingredients in tiny plastic containers you pick up curbside. The idea here is that almost all the cooking has been done for you; you’re assembling and reheating. On the appointed weekend evening, you log into a Zoom meeting, where you see co-owner Peter Ungar or chef Amit Hochstein in the restaurant kitchen guiding you; participants are in their own kitchens. Sourdough bread and cultured butter was exquisite, as was grilled octopus (it came grilled) with barley, watermelon radish, and goat’s milk yogurt. The food seems precious and the price is steep, but you present a menu you might be served in a restaurant setting, having done very little you learn a lot about the intricacies of every unusual ingredient, and you’ll have something to crow about. Ideal for a special birthday or anniversary celebration. Cost is $125 per person (drink pairings extra). www.tastingcounterathome.com
And if it’s just a very simple technique you need to learn — say, chopping an onion — watch a master. TV food celebrity and author Jacques Pepin, one of America’s leading teaching chefs, will take you through the quick process of chopping an onion. Fasten your seat belt. His knife is sharp and he’s fast. Here’s an incredibly helpful tip he offers: If you want to keep the onion white, put it in a sieve and rinse it with tap water. Now it’s ready to top your steak tartare or caviar, he says. www.bonappetit.com
Hmm, caviar. That would get me off the couch.