Monday, April 2, 2012

Monday Morning Page ~ Sunday In the Kitchen

Yesterday was a cooking marathon. It seemed I was in the kitchen all evening from the time we got home and I started preparing food for the week and dinner for the night. Dinner would be Tilapia dredged in seasoned flour topped with a warm tomato wine sauce served with rice, roasted asparagus, and a spinach salad tossed with a new good garlic olive we bought on Saturday.

Tilapia is not one of my favorite fish, but I wanted to give it another try. I think it may be the way the fish feels in my hand. It seems to lack the normal oils and feels like a stiff piece of cardboard against my palm. Alas, little Tilapia, this is just your nature. I liked how it tasted as it got a nice crust from sautéing in olive oil, tender and juicy inside. I made the tomato wine with the hopes of using it on another recipe I hope to prepare this week. The sauce reminded me of a spaghetti type sauce, which was good, but will probably pair better with the other meal. I think it was the combination of oregano and basil that took it to marinara side. The wine didn’t come through as much as I would have liked and I was missing crushed fennel because I couldn’t find it in the stores. I still favor white wine and lemon caper sauce with white fish.

After dinner, I cleaned up and began cooking for the week: a whole chicken cooked in water with garlic, later to be pulled apart; a quiche; a pasta salad with bell peppers, red onions, and the leftover roasted asparagus tossed in a vinaigrette; and banana cake. As the night was closing in, I knew I wouldn’t have time for both a quiche and banana cake. I went with the banana cake and will make quiche tonight. I finally went to bed at 12:30 a.m. I’m usually in bed much earlier. It was nice being in the kitchen and I didn’t mind washing dishes as I went. As I begin experimenting more and more in the kitchen and just trying to prepare more fresh foods and fewer prepared foods, I am finding peaceful moments in the washing part, which used to deter me.

I used the new blender that I bought a few weeks ago for the sauce. I had exchanged some nightclothes that I didn’t really need from Christmas time and instead got the blender.

And yesterday we went to IKEA because we knew they would have a few kitchen items that I wanted and needed at an affordable price. We came home with a large and a small mixing bowl, tongs, and a cute glass baking dish that I couldn’t resist and was only one inch smaller than what was suggested for one of the recipes I want to make. It’s a MIXTUR size 11x7 inches designed by Susan Pryke. It’s a piece of art and I like the way it feels. This little baking dish is made in Czech Republic. I thought that was interesting. I’ve never bought anything that was made there. I also bought a new flour canister because if I’m going to do more baking, it’s too messy to keep it in the bag inside another bag navigating the awkwardness of dipping the spoon in the bag and trying not to make a mess. It’s a round acrylic canister from Bed Bath and Beyond and it fits right where the bag used to be stored. The only thing about all these new items that seem minor enough is that we are running out of space. When I say our kitchen is small, it really is small. Luckily the mixing bowls nestle and I’ve had to creatively rearrange a few things.

That’s about it for this Monday morning.

Turned to the kitchen,
Full pantry.


Vincent said...

It was nice to read about your kitchen and your cooking, as you always write so well. My mother-in-law often cooks tilapia but she is in London. We don't often find it here. I've got interested in cooking too, and especially kitchen organisation as I am K's under-cook, learning how to do Jamaican cooking, which is actually pretty easy when you get the hang of it and access to the ingredients of course.

A brilliant idea to prepare meals for the week, & get the benefit of real food. We don't do that exactly but there is often extra prepared, which does for my lunch; or in the case of rice and peas (a classic Jamaican dish) it's used over several days. & I contribute my own specialities which K doesn't know how to cook, such as spaghetti bolognese and pancakes.

Glad you do experimentation - using recipe books all the time is not real cooking, I think!

Rebb said...

Thank you, Vincent. Ah, so your mother-in-law cooks tilapia often. Do you have other interesting fish where you are? I’d like to cook more tilapia. Doing a word search for Daikon for in my recipe App, I stumbled upon a soup with Tilapia. And then either there or somewhere else, I read that an acid such as vinegar in the soup stock helps keep the fish firm. I had no idea and I happen to like vinegar—and lime too. So next time, I may try some sort of fish soup. I might rely on a recipe for my first time to make sure I maximize the flavors.

Ah…how wonderful to be K’s under-cook! I’ve had Jamaican Jerk Chicken and enjoyed the flavors. We used a prepared spice rub, so I don’t know how authentic it was and I recall that the spice blends varied when I looked on the back.

Rice and peas sounds nice and fresh. Sometimes I like to add lentils to my rice. I don’t do it as often as I’d like. I remember having a most memorable spaghetti Bolognese in of all places an Italian restaurant in Mexico in a mall. It was flavorful and velvety. I have never had a spaghetti Bolognese quite like it. I bet yours is delicious. And I love pancakes.

I need to do more experimentation. I do like recipe books as guides. They offer lots of inspiration and ideas that I wouldn’t have thought about and then I am able to introduce what I learn to my cooking. One example is a recipe I followed many eons ago. I gave the book up but remembered the basic recipe. It was a pasta tossed with Swiss chard or any green of similar choice, neufatchel cheese or cream cheese, and lentils. I would have never thought to pair lentils with pasta. I googled a similar recipe and will try it again or just fumble through it myself. I think the main thing I would do differently this time is add more of the pasta liquid to the finished dish. I think it was a little dry when I made it years ago, but the flavors were good.

I can completely see what you mean about cookbooks and real cooking, but then cookbooks wouldn’t exist without the real cooking. The recipes and ideas have to come from somewhere and then written down to share. It seems a little of both is a good compliment.

Vincent said...

Just one thing - rice and peas actually means rice and beans, not fresh peas! And it's done with coconut milk too.