Sometimes the best meals are impecably planned, but often most of us just throw something together from the ingredients in our kitchen. While this has resulted in some Read kitchen disasters (i.e. coconut flour pasta, buckwheat mush, and watermelon protein shakes), generally the outcome has been delicious (and healthy). Having some basic cooking skills and a sense of what flavours are friends (and which ones are not) can go a long way in making a dish from whatever happens to be populating your kitchen at any given time.
What is Cooking Magic? Definition: The phenomenon that occurs when a chef (you) creates something impossibly lick-the-pot-with-your-finger delicious out of seemingly random things; the science and art of transforming ordinary food into a divine and tasty dish; the experimental process of creating food art with limited resources
How does it happen? Call it intuition, life skills, or a combination of risk-taking and a stroke of dumb luck – regardless of the source of such a miracle, cooking magic can happen to you (and probably has at some point). Set yourself up to experience the miracle that is cooking magic by doing a few simple things:
- Stock up with kitchen basics:
- A good knife + cutting board
- Spices & herbs (garlic, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, crushed red pepper, etc.)
- Cooking liquids (balsamic vinegar, olive oil, worschester sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, etc)
- Sweet stuff (choose from honey, molasses, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup)
2. Select a main ingredient from what you have in your kitchen. For example do you have a package of chicken breasts you need to use up? Maybe you make a spicy marinade with some crushed red pepper, honey, olive oli, garlic, and a spoonful of orange marmalade. Or you could cut them into chunks and make shishkebobs paired with a homemade peanut satay sauce. Maybe all you have is some flour and a tomato. Yes, I am giving you flour and a tomato as main ingredients. Make some foccacia bread topped with olive oil, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and tomato…oh, and don;t forget to grate a little parmesan cheese that you found hiding in the fridge. Amazingly simple but so good.
3. When in doubt, google it. If you don’t know how to use spices or make bread, you can find out how very easily. Type your main ingredient(s) into google with the word “recipe” and see what pops up. You never know what you might find.
4. Hit the library. Want to try a cook book before you buy it? Or maybe you just like free books (I know I do!) Head to your local library for a really big selection of cookbooks about everything. From making heart-shaped cookies with buttercream frosting to grilling recipes to make you drool, there is something for everyone! The bookstore is another great option but I recommend trying out recipe books before you invest.
5. Practice makes perfect! The more you cook and try new things, the more masterful you will become at pulling together ingredients and pairing flavours (a.k.a. cooking magic). Hint: If you are just experimenting for the heck of it, make small batches in case it turns out poorly.
Cooking magic often happens when you least expect it. Being able to whip up a batch of barbeque sauce is a skill that will come in handy when you unprepared, yet ready to embrace and conquer the task at hand (to the approval and satisfaction of all involved). It doesn’t have to be fancy – sometimes knowing how to make a fantastic sandwich can go a long way 😉