Happy Valentine’s Day!
How about doing something different for a change and offer your valentine an original gift? Instead of taking him/her out to a fancy restaurant, show how much you care by cooking dinner. Avoid the packed, loud venues and enjoy your evening by setting the mood and pouring a fine wine along with a thoughtful meal.
My Choice? Foil Wrapped Baked Salmon
Easy to prepare, it’s an absolute winner when it comes to both presentation and flavor. Start by tearing a generous sheet of foil, large enough to wrap the salmon and vegetables. Slice the vegetables into thin slices and layer them, making a bed for the fish: here I went with onion, zucchini and tomato, you can adjust to your liking. Place the salmon on top and season it properly with a pinch of salt and black pepper, but most importantly herbs: I went with thyme and basil but fresh oregano or sage leaves will work nicely as well. As an optional flavor enhancer you can use chorizo, parma ham or pancetta and top everything with a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil. Carefully wrap everything with the foil sheet, making sure it’s tight enough so all the flavors are kept in and it cooks perfectly and evenly. Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC and when it’s hot enough put the salmon in and leave it for about 20 min. Afterwards unwrap it and serve with a salad and some basmati rice (optional).
Happy Valentine’s Day
Beyond Fabric wishes all its followers and readers a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Suggestion: why don’t you cook dinner for your Valentine and enjoy it at candle light over a glass of wine? Besides being a refreshing change it will raise the ante on your romantic side.
I’m cooking mushroom risotto tonight…wish me luck!
Learn to Cook: Cooking 101
As a part of the “Learn to Cook” series, and before venturing into the kitchen by yourself, I thought it would be best to go over some basic and most useful tips.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, cooking should be taken on not as a chore, but as a relaxing activity and a time to expand your creativity. However, sometimes even creativity is somewhat restrained by a few underlying concepts: in this case you are working with two other variables - food and utensils. Despite the million possible ways to combine both, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Ingredients: no matter what kind of dish you’re preparing, be it a sandwich or the most exquisite recipe in the book, the outstanding quality and freshness of the ingredients you use is crucial. This doesn’t mean you should be getting all your goods from Gourmet shops, but do some research about your food, you’ll be surprised by what you learn. Furthermore, you’ll know what to look for when you’re out shopping… This applies to all ingredients, but is especially true when it comes to vegetables - try to get your groceries from local markets or farmers and stay away from canned food.
Picture from Europe Travel Destinations.
Utensils: As all things in life, you need the right tools for the job. Kitchen wise you may easily become overwhelmed by the sheer amount of available utensils, all aimed at different and specific tasks. Without wanting to go much further into it, these are the main items you need to get things going:
- non-stick frying pans - a great set of knives - kitchen apron
- Steel cooking pots - wood cutting board - wooden spoons
Pictures from Ikea’s website.
Temperature: It plays a most important role in the outcome of your dishes. Food reacts to heat in different ways and each ingredient has a specific cooking time (which can be tweaked to your liking - raw, medium, well done). Keeping control of the heat in your oven or cooktop is a very important part of cooking: sometimes you’ll need to use full heat whereas others, you’ll want your ingredients to simmer for a few hours. Along with heat, carefully selecting the order in which you throw your ingredients in, will make all the difference.
Picture from Miele’s website.
Seasoning: taste varies from person to person: some are more sensitive to spices than others. Even if you fall in the latter category and have an urge to over season your dishes, refrain from doing so. Each ingredient has its own taste, which becomes masked once subject to loads of spices - you’ll end up hiding all the amazing flavours. This is another very important step in any recipe and one should always keep in mind that a mere hint of a certain spice goes a long way, without depriving food of its true taste.
Picture from Flickr.
Tasting: last but not least, you should always taste your own cookings - this is the only way to evaluate if everything is spot on or if amendments are needed.
Picture from Istockphoto.