Friday, December 31, 2010

Cooking and Recipes

Every week I search on internet for recipes. Am I a good cook, do I like cooking? Well, no and no to both. I am an ok cook but a fervent eater, who loves new recipes and in general eating yummy food, be it traditional homemade or all fancy culinary stuff. So I visit all these traditional recipe sites and then go to my kitchen and pretend that I am participating in Top Chef or something. Trust me for a person like me who has to find some means to motivate and go to kitchen, this works. Just this week, I tried making tortellini pasta. Nope not from scratch, you get these tortellini pasta packets in Costco. Ok ok that’s not much of cooking, but still is something , no? I love pasta and atleast once a week we have it.

I keep a pot of boiling water, how much water, well I have this big pot, I simply fill it up and put it on the stove. There is no logic, no thought. I feel it would hold one packet of tortellini pasta and that’s it. Then I put a pan on another stove, this is for the sauce. And a third pot to blanche the tomatoes. About 6-7 tomatoes. That’s how many I would need to some sort of sauce to show up on the plate. Now in most of the Indian cooking, there is gravy. We like a lot of gravy, and spices, so when cooking pasta I try to recreate the same experience, only using Italian ingredients. I let both pots with water come to boil, for the pasta pot I add some salt (again, how much you ask?, tilt the salt holder and think of not pouring too much, that’s how much :)) and to the tomato pot, I just drop the tomatoes and turn off the burner.

Oops forgot about the pan, its red hot and I need to start putting stuff in it. So I reduce the heat, turn the burner to like 1 or really low. I cut some shallots about 3-4 (if they are small). Then I squish about 4 cloves of garlic, yep love garlic. Why squish? I think the taste stays intact and I hate removing skins and all neatly. And there is a kind of pleasure you would get, to keep the knife horizontal on the garlic clove and stomp it with your fist. Then hold the tail end of the garlic and the skin just comes off. And somewhere you feel a pride of saving few seconds of tedious clove peeling:). Now turn the pan stove to medium, put some olive oil. How much? Till you don’t feel guilty, the moment oops this is a little too much comes to mind, stop that very instant. Immediately you will feel, ahh that looks okie. Put in the garlic cloves and watch them turn brown. Add the shallots and let them turn soft, slightly golden. In the meantime drain the water from the tomatoes. Take 6 mushrooms, any type and cut them into pieces, any size you like. They shrink so don’t think too much. You don’t need to be precise or neat either, be fast though. As soon as the shallots turn golden, you would want to drop these in the pan. So drop them in the pan. Turn gas to high and let them cook well, shrink in size. Drain the water from the tomato pot. Now the tomatoes will still be steaming hot, so add some cold water. And then take each tomato, peel the skin and cut them. The juices will come out on the cutting board and there would only be enough space to cut 2 at a time. So start cutting the tomatoes when you see the mushrooms are almost done.

Now if you are me, you have forgotten about the tortellini pasta which is cooking and its when the water steams off and falls creating a sizzling noise, will you know the pasta was cooking. So go to the pasta, dig one of them with a fork. If it looks cooked that’s good. Just turn off the gas. I don’t like to drain the water then, just coz the pasta sticks together. Go back to the cutting board and add the tomatoes to the pan. Remember all the skin you peeled, cut that too. Add it to the pan. Now the spices, if you have any cooking wine or any wine at all, just add a little bit to the pan. It removes all the nice flavors that were stuck to the pan and the alcohol cooks away. Open a can of black olives, cut in half and add them. Add parsley, italain seasonsing (you get this at fredmeyer or any store really), add 1 spoon honey (this is the exotic ingredient I like to add), add basil, salt, pepper. Now 2 more spices I add from time to time are fresh cut dill and red chili powder (just to give it a degree of hot taste). Add about 2-3 spoons of low fat sour cream. This gives you the gravy. Add salt and taste. If it’s good for you, it’s good for anyone :). Drain the water from tortellini, add them to the sauce, mix well and serve.

Well I think I did well in this top chef episode, do you? Have a great time tyring some new recipes and eat some great food during 2011.


Neeraja said...

This was surely one of the funniest styles of recipe presentation I've read ;). Great tip about the honey, sour cream and dill.
Also, I add a few drops (or you know, tilt till not guilty) of olive oil in the water that cooks the pasta, so that the pasta doesn't stick together :)

Have a great new year!

Perception said...

Ah, always wondered what I could do to keep those pasta strings or pieces from sticking together. See you never find such tips on the recipe blogs :) You too have a great new year dear.

Suma Subramaniam said...

Happy New Year!!
Great to read your posts again. I love pasta too:-)


Hema P. said...

I love trying to recreate dishes I have eaten somewhere, but don't have a recipe for! There's so much satisfaction in it than following a set recipe. Most of my cooking goes like yours -- I'm not good at measuriung and ladling either :).

Happy New Year to you, and hope to read more mouth-watering recipes from your blog!

SUMI said...


I use the same tilting-till-not-guilty strategies.

Not tried the honey in my cooking, will try that!

And yes, always add a few drops of oil to the pasta, and some salt too, and cook till 'al dente'!

Bon appetite! :-)