22 November 2010

Fine ingredients simply cooked

"I want to reveal the delight to be had from making our own decisions about what we eat rather than slavishly following someone else's set of rules, and to suggest that much of our cooking has become too complicated-- hence the need to attach ourselves firmly to recipes-- when in truth good eating consists of nothing more than fine ingredients simply cooked."
-Nigel Slater, Appetite

So true. I love it. Many people claim they can't cook, but methinks they've just never been taught how to choose fine ingredients-- and don't yet realize that good cooking is a basic set of actions, some learned and some intuitive, put together appropriately for the occasion.

Not that I'm such a great cook myself. Though the kitchen is one of my favorite places, I'm no pro. I am still growing in this skill of intuitive cooking, and someday I'd like to be able to pull together an entire meal from scratch without looking at a recipe. And so despite my windowsill full of cookbooks, some of which I use and many of which I don't, I want this.


Granted, I do like recipes, but thanks to my mother (plus food blogs and lots of experimentation) I have learned enough about the way food works to stray from the path while cooking it. This is why dinners around here are usually variations on some theme. The recipe might tell me to simmer tomato sauce for fifteen minutes and then add thyme, and maybe I'll do that the first time, but next time I'll use crushed tomatoes and put in basil and forget the simmering altogether. The recipe might tell me to pour in three cups of milk and chop two potatoes, but I rebelliously use two cups of milk and two cups of chicken stock, chopping only one potato and stirring in some rice instead, with a pinch of cayenne just because.

Simple, unconstrained, unworried food is usually the best.

Tonight I'm making dinner out of a bag of ravioli, some pesto, a chunk of Parmesan, a head of romaine, a carrot, olive oil, and a stale slice of bread. And it's going to be great.

1 comment:

  1. Have you looked at the cookbook "Five ingredient Fix"? I think you'd like it!