Curiousity killed the cat, though it didn't kill Alice, and it wont hurt you either. Being curiouser and curiouser, is in fact essential in the kitchen, it is the golden key to creating wonderful and memorable dishes. Curiousity cannot be bought, it has no fixed price, it isn't weather dependant, phew! However hard you try, you simply won’t be able to find it, for it's already within you. You're the key!
Forget pots and pans, curiosity, is without doubt one of our greatest gifts, and helps in the kitchen endlessly. A good way to exercise our curiosity muscles involves food shopping, in doing so you'll avoid the robotic supermarket trance, the buy one get one free bonanza. We've all experienced it, one such time, I was gently plodding along and found myself milling around the Oriental section of my local supermarket, I took a double take, as I'd simply popped in for some eggs and now I had a basket full of soy, ginger, noodles, bean sprouts and several other aromatic condiments. In the background, so subtle, it was barely audible, a gentle ring a ting ting of Chinese music played. I laughed inside, popped things back on the shelf, grabbed my eggs and whistled my way home. So instead of throwing things into your basket, smell them, squeeze them, check that they are the freshest on offer, note the sell by date, check how far the food has travelled? Most importantly is it in season? Be a conscious shopper, embrace curiosity. It will encourage you to try new recipes, taste new foods, develop your understanding and appreciation of what you like most.
My Great Uncle Eddie often quoted Confucius,
"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
I think this ties in particularly well with cookery. It's after reading the recipe and preparing it that we may truly understand, not before. A recipe is like a map, for me the simpler the better, that way you have space to personalise dishes and play.
Today our British summer is having a turn, so it's time to bring the sunshine back into our kitchens. This is a beautiful pasta dish, inspired by Spanish flavours, a winning dish and very simple to prepare.
A WINNING SPANISH DELIGHT
SERVES 4 GENEROUSLY
whole wheat penne pasta, 500g
olive oil, a drizzle
chorizo, 150g thinly sliced
cherry tomatoes 20
green pepper, 1 cut into strips
garlic, 2 bashed
aged balsamic 1 tbsp
baby spinach, 100g
tapenade 4 tbsp
tabasco, a few drops
COOK pasta according to packet instructions.
HEAT oil and fry chorizo on a medium heat for a few minutes.
ADD tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and aged balsamic, stir well, and cook for a further five minutes.
DRAIN pasta, and stir in tapenade and spinach.
TOSS remaining ingredients and season well.
SERVE in bowls and scatter with parmesan if you so wish.