I'm trying to round up ideas on the most popular "home cooked meal" from people's childhoods! In my house it was always Spaghetti Bolognaise, and I assumed everyone grew up with that as a staple!
But I remember a moment when a friend said "my mom cooked mac & cheese most nights after school", and thought "wow, we never got that, but it would have made a nice change!".
So what was yours? Post it below here on this blog or tweet it with @zacs_cooking
I'll be sure to update everyone with my findings!
So far from twitter, we have:
@NewFoodieFoods Old fashioned mac and cheese, bread crumb crust and warm stewed tomatoes on the side!
@PoultryGuy Chicken with potatoes & vegetables
@Osheas_momma ordering pizza n Chinese food as my dads wife couldnt cook? Lol
@Elain_Evans Pork Chops with mushroom soup shudders
@MichelleLKent I guess it would be shepherd's pie or mince *gr.beef with potatoes and veggies
@PoultryGuy Chicken with rice & veg
@Thatsamore23 rice and chicken!! so asian lol
@Monicamaple Shepherd's Pie at my house growing up
@turtlemom Turnip greens and potlikker with cornbread
@MyOpinionOnLife Pork chops in cream of mushroom soup! Or breaded, pan-fried oysters. I loved them as a kid.
@PoultryGuy mom would go crazy and prepare turkey w. Potatoes
Did you get served any of these as a kid? What else made frequent appearances on your kitchen table?
So here's what I made for my fiancee for this Valentines Day - seafood linguini! I guess we wouldn't normally have seafood during the week, so seafood can even make monday night cooking special!
But here's the real point - cook for the people you love! An artist could draw or paint for their love, a musician could write a tune. A writer could put together an amazing poem. So don't underestimate the value in cooking for your other-half this valentines day or for their next birthday!
So here's a great recipe for cooking Seafood Linguini:
1. boil some salted water and get the linguini cooking when it's rapidly boiling
2. Put a can of crushed tomatoes in a pan and bring to the simmer
3. add a 1tsp cruched chillis, chilli sauce or some other source of heat (optional)
4. Add 1 tsp salt, 1tsp sugar and 1tsp oregano, crush in a few cloves of garlic and add a dash of white wine
5. let that simmer for 15 min.
6. while doing this, prepare and clean your seafood: prawns, calamari slices/rings, some pieces of fish flesh, scallops, mussels, clams, pippis (you choose, anything goes)
7. throw the seafood into the tomato sauce and toss through so the hot sauce starts to cook the seafood. You can put a lid on for 2min to steam those also
8. Toss and mix it all together. Add the pasta to the sauce pan with a handful of chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Then lay it out on a plate!
You usually woudln't add parmesan at the table, but you could put cracked pepper, salt and lemon wedges on the table for those who like to adjust their own seasoning a little.
I love cooking this one up as a great example of how cooking winter dishes can help you embrace the cold and enjoy comforting food at the same time. It takes a while to prepare, but most of it is set-and-forget, plus that gives you more wine drinking time!
Another reason I like this dish is that it's a great example of how you can cook with cheap beef but get a wonderful and delicious result. Somehow I get a form of satisfaction from using my cooking skill to create delicious food, rather than spending a fortune on expensive ingredients!
CHOOSING THE BEEF
So the point here is that you can cook with any beef. I recommend going for the "stewing beef" or "gravy beef" from the supermarket. It might be called chuck steak, whatever. The point is that it should be around $10/kg as opposed to $25/kg+ you would pay for eye fillet. The trade off is that the cooking time will be >1hr.
CHOOSING YOUR PASTA
I've cooked this dish with long pasta like paperdelle, and also with different types of short pasta like penne, rigatoni or spirals. I prefer the short pasta because it "picks up" the meat sauce a lot better and can be eaten with the bowl in one hand and a fork in the other!
So here's how it works:
1. cube the beef and toss it in flour, then fry it off in a heavy pot that you can put in the oven later (use a little olive oil here). Remove from the pot once sealed.
dice onion, carrot and celery and start to sautee that in the same pot with a little more oil if needed.
once the onion is transparent and soft, add back the beef, mix through and then add 1 cup red wine. Let it cook off for 2 minutes
add 2 x 400g cans of diced tomato, then the equivelant of water. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1tsp dried herbs (like oregano), some bay leaves and some crushed garlic and mix through.
Put it in an oven (about 180 celcius) for 1.5 hours. This is where you drink some wine!
Put some water on the boil to cook your pasta, and take the pot from the oven for the last 10 min or so. Keep it simmering on the stove
Cook the pasta and season the ragout. You may need to add salt to enhance the flavor. Some ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon goes well in the last few min of cooking.
Once the pasta is cooked and strained, you should mix it into the sauce and let it sit a few min.
You can garnish with whatever you like, but I especially like parmesan cheese, some shaved lemon zest and shopped flat leaf parsley!
This is the kind of food that is intended to be eaten in front of the fire, with a glass of red wine while the snow/rain falls out there!
I know this is a topic that only a cook or a foodie could find interesting. But I'm often cooking and think to myself "I wonder how the first guy/girl ever discovered that you could cook this ingredient in this way".
And no ingredient amazes me more than eggs. Seriously. Eggs, and what the french cooking traditions have done with them are absolutely phenomenal! So here are 5 examples. And if you have cooked each of these, you will understand what I'm talking about!
Crepes - check out my basic crepe recipe on this blog. The ability of eggs to "set" a mixture they are added to is such a wonderful property that we appreciate in cakes, omlettes, frittata's, quiches and lots more!
Hollandaise Sauce - The ingredients are so simple: egg yolks, butter and lemon juice. Beating the yoilks to a point where they are pale seems to transform their properties so that they won't "scramble" when you apply heat and add melted butter, but they will thicken and provide a smooth rich sauce. (mayonaise is another example of this in action)
Merangue - beating eggs until stiff peaks form. Wow. It's amazing to think that beating eggwhites for long enough makes them so light and fluffy that you can add air to other desserts (like chocolate mousse) or bake it into a crunchy and light biscuit (like a merangue)
Choux pastry - an amazing recipe from which we get profiteroles and eclairs. The way the flour, water, butter bind together, then are held by the eggs is amazing. Again "how did they come up with this?"
French ice cream - I have tested churning a mix of "flavoring", sugar and cream in a proper ice cream churn. The result is a very icy flavor in the icecream. Not creamy at all. But when you include a "custard", (made from beating yolks, then adding dissolved sugar & water while thickening over a double boiler), the result is that amazing smooth and creamy ice cream finish we associate with good quality ice cream!
Anyway, I could name heaps more. Are there some better examples of eggs in cooking? What would your top 5 be? I might ask this of my next class at the cooking school....or perhaps even add this as a cooking demo at the school.
We've all heard of cookies 'n' cream ice cream, right? Well what about substituting chocolate teddies for the cookies and calling it "teddies n cream"? Here's how it went:
Stage 1 - put 125g white sugar and 100ml water in a pot and dissolve the sugar.
Stage 2 - separate 5 eggs, keeping the yolks in a metal or glass bowl. Beat them until they're pale (not literally, but after about 1 min of intense whisking, you will notice they are not as yellow as they were before!)
Stage 3 - put the eggs onto a double boiler and keep beating and stiring with a whisk. Start adding the syrup from stage 1. The work you did in stage 2 means that the yolks can accept the heat without "scrambling". Keep adding all the syrup and keep whisking until the mixture thickens. A sign that it's thick is that you can see the streaks your whisk cuts through the mixture. Otherwise, dip the end of your finger in, and then look at the mixture on your finger. If it's coating it, it's thick enough. Put this "custard" in the fridge to cool down
Stage 4 - get the teddies (or cookies) and put them in a plastoc bag, then smash them a little so they are small bits and crushed up. But not into powder! You want some crunchy chunks in there!
Stage 5 - when the custard is cool (from stage 3), mix in 1.5 cups cream, a splash of vanilla essence, and then pour it into an ice cream churn.
Stage 6 - when you sense you are 5 min from the end of churning, pour in the crushed teddy bears and let them mix through.
As you put it into a tub to freeze, you could arrange some whole teddies on the top for decoration...if you saved any from being crushed! (you bully!)