False friends in the kitchen

shallow focus photography of squash soup
Photo by Valeria Boltneva on Pexels.com

This morning I was reading something on one of the profiles I follow, @katiesturino 

She was writing about her frustration with using pumpkin to cook a pasta dish., which results in a not-so-good -tasting dish and made her question her cooking abilities.

I think there are some ingredients that look ‘friendly’ (come on, October is pumpkin season, who doesn’t love a pumpkin) but in reality are very tricky.

First you have to find a really tasty one, and it’s not easy until you cook it usually… by then it’s too late. And even when you find a tasty one, its consistence is not easy to work with (tip: better in a risotto than in a pasta dish if you are not too experienced, or like the picture above in a soup).

So I would suggest to anyone who is practicing their first dishes, or perhaps want to impress a guest at dinner (the person you are spending your lockdown with, that is), to try with easier to work with ingredients.

Some foolproof ingredients you could start with are zucchini, for instance: you can sautee’ them with a little olive oil, a garlic glove and some parsley (at the end) and add them when ready to some cooked pasta, toss in and sautee a bit more, add a hint of parmesan if you like and voila’, simple and tasty dish even for beginners.

Another ingredient that always works well is asparagus (with risotto this time), or again for a pasta I would also do a handful of small round tomatoes, cut in half and sauteed in a little olive oil, salt and toss in the cooked pasta, add basil and enjoy.

Leave the most “risky” ingredients for a time when you are sure they are as tasty as possible, or when you can experiment.

Avoid false friends, in the kitchen and in your life 🙂

Instant pick me up

close up photo of green leaves
Basil, one of the best “essential oils”

Today I sent my “random” newsletter to the handful of subscribers I have. Here is what I shared:

  • I recently realized I love waking up to a clean sink and kitchen. So I take the extra effort in the evening to put everything away and clean up after dinner (it takes 10mins top, you can set the alarm clock and do all you can in those 10 minutes, then stop, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming)
  • When I am short on time, but really hungry, I either prepare a quick pasta with tomato and basil or a braised chicken with mustard: both are ready in 20mins max an pack a full tasty healthy meal
  • When I encounter resistance even to do something I know will bring me wellness in the (near) future, see point 1 for instance, I apply the kaizen rule and do as little in the 10mins alarm, or a minimal chunk of time I can dedicate to a task to proceed with it. It also helps me to think that my tomorrow happiness is determined by today’s choices

    Tiramisu’: Try smelling some fresh herbs and keep them in your kitchen in a small glass (or even a real plant). I love basil and mint, but rosemary and time smell equally delicious. It’s the easiest of aromatherapies and essential oils abound in these herbs. It’s an instant and easy pick me up!