I'm always learning

>> Saturday, 15 March 2008

"How did you learn to cook? Where did you learn to cook? When did you learn to cook? I get asked these questions often. And often I am stumped because my answer would never be as straightforward as naming a person, place or time. Truth be told, I am constantly learning. This week, however, I thought I'd attempt to answer those questions as concisely as I can." Read on here for more.

Based on the subject of this week's column, I thought that I'd share with you 3 of many dishes that are now a part of my cooking repertoire. This first dish of Coconut-Cilantro rice, I read about it 4 years ago in Gourmet magazine. This dish is so good that you don't need to have anything else to go with it. Of course I have adapted and adjusted some of the ingredients to suit my taste such as using fresh coconut that I fire-roasted before grating and grinding it. When the coconut-cilantro paste is added to the ginger-chilie-infused hot basmati rice, your senses are bathed with an indescribable aroma. Promise me you'll try making this dish, just email me and I'll send you my adapted recipe.

Coconut-Cilantro Rice

I've also learnt to make a lot of new dishes from many of you, my blog friends and this Chicken Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge), I learnt from my gal Jaden over there at Steamy Kitchen. This was the first time I had used dried shrimp and as Jaden rightly instructs, the dried shrimp gives to this dish that "umami" flavour so highly sought in Chinese food.

Chicken Congee (Rice Porridge)

Now you all know how much I love plantains so I never pass up an opportunity to make or try a new plantain dish. For me, tostones was love at first bite. Have it with a dip or some hot pepper sauce and you'll be saying to the tostones: "Where have you been all my life?" I am serious (lol)


Do you want to learn more about cooking techniques and about the know-hows and whys of preparing certain ingredients and dishes? Well, let me introduce you to a very good friend of mine, Sue. She is the author of the blog Food Network Musings. Apart from reviewing and offering constructive criticism of various FN shows, Sue evaluates by also offering solutions, suggestions and advice based on her more than 20 years of experience as a trained chef and cooking teacher. I've picked up so many valuable tips from her.

  • Read her post Jamie wins by a Hare and learn about coating before frying and what adding water to eggs does when coating before frying.
  • Today and out to dinner we learn why garlic should sit 10 minutes after we've sliced, chopped or pressed it before cooking
  • Make Boome for Danny tells us about heat temperature when cooking mushrooms; we learn what it means to have ingredients "batoned"; and we understand the notion of first deglazing with wine and then using the wine for cooking.
  • Call the Cardiologist, the Neely's are Cooking, instructs on the best utensil to use when browning meat. Using a pot with high sides almost ensures that steam will gather up the sides of the pot and wash down on the meat.
There are many more valuable tips and advice, just check her archives. It's well worth the read.

Remember last week's post with my stuffed calamari? I'm sending it over to Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita for the event they are co-hosting: Festa Italiana. You can find more details here.

At Forgive me my nonsense... find out what's important.

Have a great week everyone.

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