Words, Words, Words

When I enter my kitchen, I have a hard time not turning into Don Quixote.

The famous character believed that every word written in his books were true. No matter how crazy or impossible it might seem, it had to be true.

No, I can make this demi-glaze, even if it does take two days.

Yes, I can cook a pig’s head.

Well, yes I did make the demi-glaze, and the pig head. But it wasn’t easy and I ended up calling the pig head a torchon to make it sound more appetising.

My travels, my travails across my kitchen library are well worn.


I’ve made this recipe for pad thai so many times that the pages are stained with the tamarind I use for the sauce.

And one of my cookbooks even ended up almost going up in flames because I turned on the wrong burner.   Oops.

Foodies are often like Quixote when it comes to cookbooks. We trust them to tell us truths such as: use cold butter for making chocolate cookies, rather than room temperature; they will have less of a tendency to spread when they reach the warm oven.

We trust cookbooks to take us to places.

Going to Lebanon, or Thailand or the Philipines via your kitchen is a lot cheaper than buying a ticket. And it leads to less jetlag.

Sometimes, cookbooks can take you back to that moment in the restaurant… you know the one, with the open kitchen.

Like the time you saw the sous-chef drop an entire pot of mashed potatoes on his foot. You could tell he really wanted to yell, let alone scream out a hearty, ‘FFFFFFfffffuuuuuu***”. Nope, open kitchen. Patrons are less than a foot away.

Ow.

But we are storytellers in our kitchens. We don’t just re-tell the exact same story every time. We want to tell our own stories. We give them our own accents, our own little twists and tweaks. Because you know what stories do: they change with each telling.

We get better at telling them. We get better at making the vinaigrette for a strawberry and bitter green salad. We know that when you don’t have a way to measure how much jasmine rice is in the pot, that if you put enough water to cover the rice and the first knuckle of your index finger, you’ll have perfect rice. Or that you don’t even need your book anymore to make your own version of Phô.

So don’t worry if you leave your inner Quixote behind. Besides, he went crazy, didn’t he?

With strawberries starting to come into abundance, we here at Passable thought we would share one of our fave ways to eat them. It’s a version of a recipe that was published in 2001 in an issue of the now defunct Gourmet. But we’ve put our own stamp on it.

Straberry & Bitter Greens Salad

2 tbsp neutral oil (grapeseed is best)
3 tsp hazelnut oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
Fresh ground pepper to taste.

3/4 lb mixed and washed bitter greens (arugula, mizuna, mustard greens)
1/2 lb hulled and trimmed strawberries.

Mix and whisk the first five ingredients into a bowl to make the vinaigrette. Dress the greens with the salad.

Finish off with anything from fresh chèvre to toasted hazelnuts or pumpkin seeds for an extra bonus.

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