Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Rediscovered Joy of Cooking...

I haven't talked about cooking for a while. Mostly, I think I've been waffling on about Spring and puppies and Dog Whisperers. I apologize if I get tedious sometimes. My life is a little....routine at the moment in order to train the puppies so pretty much, those three topics are the things that are most prominant in my life.

I have managed to cook though. It took me a little while with the puppies. They don't quite get the concept of cooking. At first, they hid from the clanging of my pots, the chop of the knife and the beating of the meat. I have a nifty Mario Batali meat tenderizer with which it is remarkably fun to hit pieces of meat. It's also quite therapeutic.

Nowadays, the puppies tend to sit in the doorway while I cook. I've been slowly getting back up to speed and actually cooking proper meals instead of fast, easy stuff. Tonight, for example, I made Asparagus all Milanese as an appetizer (thanks, Mario!) and balsamic glazed cipollini onions (thanks, Jungle Jim's) with Swedish potato sausage for a main course (thanks, Sweden!).

It turned out delicious and it put me back in the mood to cook. It's not that I haven't felt like cooking but sometimes, you get to the point where it seems like a fair amount of effort to chop, slice and dice and you find ways to make dinners without that.

It also helped that I managed to get some great deals on some Mario Batali cookware this weekend, thanks to an invitation-only boutique my friend invited me to join. Mostly, the boutiques are clothes and accessories but every now and again, they have a good one. When they had a Mario Batali boutique, I was, naturally, excited. Sadly, by the time I had a chance to log in and see what bargains were to be had, I was a little late for some of them. When they sell out on the site, they're sold out.

Still, I did get a rather nice saucepan and an apron and my mum got a nice 4 qt Dutch oven. I made her buy it in chianti red since Mario's signature colour, persimmon, is the accent in my kitchen and I'm a wee bit possesive.

So, combined with new cookware and good ingredients, the urge to cook has struck me. It also helps that I've been watching reruns of Top Chef: Masters on Bravo. Unlike the regular Top Chef, the Masters version is very...classy. Instead of young chefs all vying to be 'Top Chef', Masters focuses on well-established, quite well known chefs who, if they win, will receive a $100,000 donation to their charity of choice.

The difference between the regular version of the show and the Masters version is the attitudes. Whereas the regular version focuses on competition which tends to get quite mean and snarky, the Masters version focuses on skill; the chefs admire each other already and have nothing to prove other than some friendly competition. Except Michael Chiarello who tends to remind me of a used-car salesmen, the competitors are actually really respectful of each other and pleasant to watch.

And...they can really cook. I'm not huge on Mexican cuisine. I like it but it's not one of my favourites but, I tell you, Rick Bayless makes me want to eat Mexican food.

All in all, lately, I've been hungry again. I want to learn new things about food. Since Jungle Jim's has managed to supply me with almost everything I have wanted to try- except, perhaps, Chanterelle mushrooms- I've been spoiled. I have yet to try truffles but until I get much richer, I might have to wait on those.

So, with a fridge full of ingredients and a desire to try something new, who knows what I'll come up with tomorrow.

But that's half the fun.

Happy Tuesday!

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