Slice of Life Story Challenge- March 29 - Cooking Up A Storm
Cooking Up A Storm
Easter in Australia sees many people taking the opportunity to take off for a few days and go ‘bush’ as the local saying goes. Camping at Easter is a national pastime. I have done it many times over the years. Others seek out accommodation in places far enough away from home to make a difference, but within manageable driving distance. Families and friends seek to maximize the time together. Easter represents in the minds of many, the last opportunity to get away before winter inevitably sets in. The highways of our nation become clogged and cities seem to empty somewhat at this time. There are of course, the religious observations, and the devouring of obscene amounts of chocolate to be factored into the scene as well.
I spent Easter at home with my wife, family and friends this year, indulging in something from which I derive great pleasure -cooking. Easter lends itself to such matters.
I love making salads. Not the bland salads of my childhood, where every dish looked and tasted pretty much the same. I am driven to prepare salads with fresh and contrasting flavours and textures. Salads with colour and bite. I am indebted to Yotam Ottolenghi for shining a light on this critical understanding. Acquiring his books has lead me to salad enlightenment. Using ingredients that bring the aromas and freshness of the garden into your kitchen, also brings a sense of comfort and re-assurance.
|Leeks, beetroot and pomegranate salad|
During Easter I also tried something new. (It’s good to move outside your comfort zone.) I decided to make a ricotta and sour cherry tart as an Easter Sunday lunch dessert with friends. I don't make a lot of desserts. I am becoming a little more confident with my cooking. The contrast between the ricotta and the cherries seemed to work a treat. I’ll do this again, I’m sure.
I also made a pasta bake using orecchiette (ear shaped pasta). I included caraway and cumin seeds, three cheeses and Black Russian tomatoes. It came together easily. I have made it before and that gave me a sense of confidence.
Last night I made chilli con carne for the main meal and Vicki made the dessert –meringues, fresh berries and cream. We invited friends to share the bounty. It was pleasing to see them request second helpings.
There was a time when the kitchen made me feel somewhat nervous. Vicki used to say. ‘If you can read a recipe, you can cook.’ She has taught me much and given me the confidence to explore. Her words regarding reading recipes hold up fairly well, but I would add the important rider- read the whole recipe before you begin!
I have come to appreciate the critical nature of preparation. It enables one to gain a vision of what is needed, time considerations, measures. It is important to create a sense of flow with what you are trying to bring to life on the plate. Attention to ‘Prep’ should never be underestimated. Bitter experience has taught me this...
As Easter concludes I am well pleased with my time in the kitchen and my new discoveries.
|A tart and other treats|