Monday, April 20, 2015

No Name Cooking #1

My son came up with a recipe a few days ago and I posted it here, as a note from my son.

So, how did that work out for ya?

There are all the ingredients prepared ahead of time. We talked about size of cuts and how you want them to be uniform. Also, what cooks before what else? (Onions, peppers, cukes - add the spices, then chickpeas and lime to serve). Also, that frying normally uses fat. 

Some stuff happens while you cook and if you are paying attention, there is room for riffing or improving a dish. There was a bit of brown bits on the bottom of the frypan as we went along, so we were going to add lime juice, anyways... Added the juice to get the brown bits off the bottom. Added benefit was the juice was both tart and sweet. 

With two small cucumber, two half peppers and a can of chickpeas, this came to the table. Surprisingly, the 1/2 tsp dill, 1/2 tsp hot paprika and salt, were the only seasonings needed. For my interest, I liked the spicing a lot with the cucumber and chickpeas. My son's quibble was that the peppers could have had more crunch. I wonder about the balance of sweetness if we were to do that but I think we will try that next time as the dish could have used more texture. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Leftovers #2: Beet Soup

Last month, we had a Maker Fair type event at the school and I made a Curried Beet and Coconut Soup. While it was popular there was about 3-4 cups leftover and so that left some room for experimenting.

One approach for leftovers that works is to take the base leftover and use it as a sauce or background to build other dishes on top.

In this case, a pasta with snow peas and cheese was served over top on the soup. For my kids, we left out the soup. It was a good pairing.

Another approach is to take two dishes that should complement each other and find a way of combining them. I had some leftover cream of mushroom soup that used white wine. So, it went on top of the beet soup when serving it. The earthiness of the soups worked well together. Had it with a beer and there was a trio of something going on there. Worth the experiment.

There were so many other possibilities in my fridge that I look forward to having roasted beets as a leftover ingredient at some time. Taking leftover oatmeal and frying it into crisp rounds would serve as a bed for either a sauce or simple salad. The crunch and the flavours would complement each other.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Notes from an Eleven Year Old

This is how my eleven year old son views the idea of a recipe. There are several attempts at moving away from standard way of presenting recipes with title, headnotes, ingredients and techniques. Several cookbooks and blogs have experimented with styles and we are getting some interesting results. But look at this start.

Let me translate the writing for you. 



Slice of lime/lime juice

As you move left to right, these are the actions you do to these ingredients. The part that is not written down was the inspiration and the discussion we had around creating this recipe. It comes from an episode of Mind of A Chef where they are working on a succotash recipe. Originally, this was to be a fried salad but when we started breaking down the idea, he wasn't as interested in cooked lettuce as he was at the beginning. 

We talked about what would happen to each ingredient and what he was trying to do. It turns out he wants to learn how to fry and wanted to make a recipe that works that way. This was an interesting experience and collaboration where I give what I know and honestly remove my biases by talking through what happens with ingredients. If I don't know, I let him know and he can make that decision. I've had fried lettuce in a dish and deep fried greens and boiled lettuce soup. Cooked cucumbers exist in Asian cuisine. Chickpeas are one of his favourites. And so on.

This is how I hope that our relationship outside of the kitchen works too. He explains what he is doing and why he wants to do it. I give my experiences and he takes it away and decides. We will be making this recipe this weekend and I will be the sous chef. At some point and time, you need to walk away from the stove and give your kids the opportunity, both in life and cooking. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Dregs for March 2015

I am behind on my posting and have a bunch of things that I hope to get posted this month. This is a quick bit on what is going on with my food life right now.

I went to Halifax and hope to do a round up of things. It was a trip punctuated by storms and a worry that I wouldn't get home to see my kids. It all works out in the end and I enjoyed my trip a lot.

Read three loosely related books and trying to find a way to write about them in a way that adds something. Vegetarian Flavor BibleThe Flavour Thesaurus and Note by Note Cooking. I might just publish my mash notes because they are entertaining in themselves to me.

I eat a lot of my lunches out and use them to try new food and restaurants. A lot of places aren't notable or I have nothing interesting to say about them. Sometimes it is my interest or my ability to assess. Around work I have tried a new fish and chips shop, Carl Jr's, and retried Holy Chuck. I linked to David Ort's notes on Carl's because I am not sure I will write about them. My review on Holy Chuck's still stands.

Published two reviews on Eat.Drink.Travel; one on a Whisky event and another on a burger joint. I will hopefully be doing another review shortly from a burger joint.

In the beer world, had some of those East Coast brews on my holiday and Uncle Leo's, Big Spruce and Rare Bird deserve a revisit at some time. Also, a big surprise for me was a Sarnia brewery, Refined Fool. And been doing some thinking about the announced beer reforms in Ontario. I had some earlier thoughts last year but was left with some hanging chads and now they are beginning to crystallize.

Hopefully, like the groundhog, I will lift myself out of this busy hole called life and begin to see the spring.