Showing posts with label NPR. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NPR. Show all posts

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Rise and Shine - Cooking as the Sun Comes Up

There are great pleasures in getting up early and cooking for friends coming for lunch or dinner.
In the summer, getting up as the sun is rising avoids the day's heat. In the winter, I love early morning cooking because the kitchen heats the house with fragrance as baked good come out of the oven and bacon sizzles in the sauté pan.

Before everyone else is awake, the house is quiet. A freshly brewed cup of coffee and NPR's Morning Edition gets me going as I organize my ingredients and pull out the few pots and pans I'll need to make a fun meal.

For a summer brunch, with the weather forecast saying temperatures will top 90 degrees, rising early means the chance to do some light cooking and then spend the rest of the day enjoying the cool of a shaded deck.

Easy-to-make dishes give a big return.
Grilled vegetables, eaten as an appetizer or turned into a simple salad, are light, refreshing and take only a few minutes to prepare.

Or the simplest meal starts with hardboiled eggs cooked in the morning and chilled, then served with remoulade or 1000 island dressing and good cold cuts and cheese.
An omelet takes minutes to make.  Prepared ahead, the fillings can be any combination of sautéed vegetables, meat, fish or poultry with whatever cheese you enjoy.
Gnocchi prepared in the morning, come together with farmers market fresh vegetables or thin slices of prosciutto, dusted with parsley.
A simple baked custard flavored with fresh or cooked fruit, topped with caramelized nuts, served with fresh fruit from the farmers market is the perfect dessert.
Biscuits for strawberry shortcake, baked as the sun is coming up, appear in the afternoon, cut in half and topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
In fall and winter, bacon sautéed chicken with vegetables is perfect to drive away the cold or pork belly roasted with Vietnamese style vegetables and cooked overnight in a 225 F degree oven. The tender, ginger flavored meat adds spice to a simple tossed pasta.
Cooking early in the morning frees the rest of the day to relax, go for a walk and read the Sunday newspaper. Then when it's time to eat, the food is ready and you are a guest at your own table.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

OCC - Obsessive Compulsive Cooker

I don't think there's a 12 Step Program for people who are obsessive about cooking. I saw an analyst once who told me I shouldn't cook so much. Common sense suggested to him that someone who spent 8-10 hours cooking when he didn't have to has a problem.

I don't mind admitting that I am compulsive about cooking. My defense is that working in the kitchen is relaxing. I put on the radio and listen to NPR or plug in an iPod and play music. I enjoy the concentration required by cutting, measuring, and seasoning. I'm intellectually stimulated by the different possibilities of flavor, texture, and presentation. I'm challenged by the effort it takes to get a complex meal with multiple courses finished in time for a dinner party. And I get enormous pleasure when my family and friends enjoy my cooking.

When our son Michael was 7 years old he made a placard that praised what he thought were my significant qualities. At the top of the list was "Daring Cooker". At that young age he could see how important cooking was to me.

Even when I'm not home--when I'm traveling--I'm thinking about food. I wrote an essay for Peter Greenberg, the travel guru, with food tips when you're on the road. This weekend on Bitten I posted about my last trip to Utah to visit Michelle. Staying at the resort includes well-prepared meals three-times a day...and yet I started calculating how I could 'repurpose' what they serve. So was born my recipe for "Salad Bar Soup".

Ultimately maybe all this compulsiveness is a guy thing. But instead of obsessing about sports, cars or pursuing an esoteric hobby, I think about food and cooking.

Have a Picnic for Super Bowl Sunday - Kimchi Chicken Wings, Salads & So Much More

A week to go for Super Bowl Sunday and I have my menu planned. No chips or dips. No ordering in (although a sausage pizza with mushrooms, on...