Wednesday, July 15, 2009
The kitchen has been a little lonely of late: which is not to say that it's not how I like it-- cooking is one of the key ways I unwind and process my day. Its quality alone time that I look forward to and enjoy. However, as any daily gourmet experiences, it is easy to get stuck in flavor ruts. I use the same 5 spices in everything (as I'm sure is apparent from my recipes), and sometimes its good to get shaken out of it. Also when you make food every day its pretty damn exciting to have someone else make you something that hits the spot-- and teaches you something.
James and I collaborated on several dinners while the roadtrip crew was here, and one night he took over the sauce making. I was very reluctant to let this happen. I am a particularly good at making tomato sauce, and I'm a tyrant in the kitchen. Really. This was hard for me. But it was a good thing I shut my mouth and worked on a salad because I had something to learn:
Parsley. A good deal of it. Added to the sauce before the tomatoes, sauteed in with the olive oil and garlic. It would have never even crossed my mind to put parsley in tomato sauce. Or really anything for that matter. Parsley was totally off my radar, maybe something I would put in a clear soup stock if I saw it lying around. Well my friends, I put parsley in the next batch of tomato sauce I made and it was the best damn sauce I have ever made. Hands down. Serious.
Thank you James.
Here are a few key things that I have picked up along the way from other chefs:
Maria, Nacira's mother who graciously housed and fed us in Oaxaca for several weeks, taught me to throw onions and garlic in the blender with olive oil, and keep a jar of the puree in the fridge for general cooking use. This way the oil soaks up the flavor of the garlic and onion. Theres no need for long simmering on low. The garlic doesn't burn, and it's easy as hell. I make a bunch every week, and use it in everything.
Elizabeth's father, Bennet, a raw vegan food whiz taught me these two invaluable tricks:
1. peel ginger with a spoon
2. when measuring out something sticky for a recipe like honey or molasses, coat the measuring cup with a thin layer of oil before hand. No sticky mess and you get all of the said sticky ingredient into the food instead of all over the measuring cup.
He also sent us a blender. Not just any blender but a really nice food processor/blender with an attachment for slicing and grating. I can't tell you how much better my life is. SO MUCH BETTER.