Some may wonder, this is a cooking blog, Dunni, get straight into the cooking, it’s a busy world, no one has the time to read and read. You promised to get us fired up about cooking, get to it please. I’ll tell you why? Have you ever looked at a recipe, and wondered about the thought processes that went into it? Have you tried to imagine being in the kitchen with the writer, and preparing the dish? Or, have you looked at a recipe, and felt detached, or it reminded you of chemistry lab in school, simply following instructions. Well I do. I used to feel that way for a while, and I rarely tried out recipes in books or online. All that changed when I started watching The Food Network Channel.
I’ll tell you who my favourite cooks are. Ina Garten, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Guy Fieri. Why do I love them? They make cooking feel personal. From across the screen it’s as if you guys are best buddies, and you are right there sitting in their kitchen watching them cook. They are not “fancy” celebrity cooks (we have too many of them in my opinion), putting on a show. You can tell that, even though they are famous now, they still hold on to the core of it all, which is cooking. If I have to cook something new, I find myself going straight for their recipes, and I mostly get it right. I say to myself, how would Ina have done it, or oh, Nigella says do this, that crazy Guy, remember he warned about this etc. It helps to get to know a cook as it makes following their recipes easier. So, I want us to become best buddies, which is why the next few posts will be telling you a story about me as a cook. I want us to connect with each other, through our love for food.
One thing my cooking heroes never overstate is using quality ingredients. For example, Palm oil commonly sold in African or Asian food stores, I personally consider inedible. Palm oil has such a rich distinct flavor. The richness of which is in the body, not the oil skimmed off and sold in bottles. There are places where you can get proper local palm oil. Trust me, the difference in taste is clear. One cooking spoon of the good stuff is all you need. I have a bottle I’ve been using for almost a year, and I cook a lot.
I also believe in cooking from scratch. Making Akara (friend bean cake), or Moi-moi (steamed bean cake) with bean flour, or dried de-skinned beans is a personal no-no, even though I advocate kitchen cheats. I was horrified the day I found out it was an option. With the horsemeat scandal going on in Europe, I think now is the time we pay more attention to our food, and what’s in it. You are what you eat!!!! If you have reliable electricity, on a weekend, you can soak a big batch of beans, peel it, and store in family meal sized (depending on the size of your household) portions in freezer bags and store. The next time you need it, simply defrost a portion(s) overnight in the fridge, throw it in the blender, add your condiments, and cook. People are amazed how I can have Akara or Moi-moi on the table in under 30minutes. I cheat. Lol. My grandmother would roll in her grave, if I used processed flour/dried de-skinned beans Lol.
Let’s go Italian, making Bolognese sauce with tomato sauce from a jar. Seriously, you don’t need it. Make your own tomato sauce, all you need are chopped tomatoes (canned) chopped carrots and your own selection of herbs and spices. According to food purists, you should even add red wine. It will take you all of 5 minutes, and you can put exactly what you want in it. I’ve done a couple of trials adding the sauce from a jar and making it from scratch. Two guesses which one won hands down.
Who said leftovers are boring