Thursday, August 26, 2010

Inventing your own dishes!

This is always fun! No recipes, no limits. Maybe not even a trip to the supermarket! It's always a pleasant challenge inventing dishes on the spot but sometimes they can go horribly wrong. Here are some simple, guaranteed things that you can do to invent in the kitchen.

Six wonderful foods on earth:
1- pasta
2- pizza
3- risotto
4- salad
5- soup
6- stirfry

These foods are akin to heaven-sent when it comes to you wanting to invent hassle-free.. But what's the fun in that? Isn't the fun really trial and error? Yes, I agree with you. But when you're short on time and your stomach needs something ASAP, these six dishes are great.

Soup and salad are kind of the safest options to put whatever you want in it... In the past, and to this day, people who are not fortunate enough to have access to a supermarket or food the way we do, place whatever they can find in a huge pot with water and cook it for hours for the flavour to emerge. Lamb, chicken, fish, vegetables of any kind, and even dried fruits can be added to soups.. you just need to know in which order! You must look at the vegetables and try to decide the cooking time of each. You don't need to be an expert for this. Just look at, let's say, mushrooms, and you'd realize that they'd take longer to cook than, say, spinach. (Spinach by the way, wilts to a third of its size when heated and cooked.. it's always a pleasure to observe!)

Meat should always, always be cooked first! That's to ensure that it HAS enough time to properly cook and also, so that the flavours of other ingredients manage to blend well with it.

Pasta is always fun to cook.. and it doesn't have to be boiled penne with bottled tomato sauce if you don't know how to cook or are short on time. Throw in onion, garlic, corn, mushrooms, fresh basil (at the end!), capsicums (always my favourite) and whatever else you have in the fridge!

Today was the first time that I invented with stirfry. I was making a Sang Choi Bow. (Here is a sang choi bow if you don't know: ) The recipe I was using only included chicken, garlic, ginger, and red capsicum. I, obviously, wanted a lot more in it and so I added vegetables that would go well with oriental flavours... hence, I picked mushrooms, corn, other capsicums, red chillies, pak choi, and beansprouts. I threw everything in the wok at once which wasn't a very good decision on my part, as the stirring and cooking took longer than supposed to, but it turned out fab! And I love how the iceberg lettuce acts as a bowl!

The iceberg lettuce was BELIEVE IT OR NOT, the toughest part! You'd think it would be the easiest, what with just having to separate the leaves and wash them. But their shapes were unimaginable... There were hardly any that looked like "bowls" (as they're supposed to) and hardly any seemed fit to be able to "hold" the mince mixture well!

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