I hate cooking… or at least I used to. Indian food is extremely tedious to make. It takes too much time, needs too many ingredients and there are just too many rules to follow. But then I discovered Pinterest… and for the last few months I have been cooking up some fairly decent Continental fare. 3 to 5 ingredients requiring 20-30 minutes of prep and cooking time. I now have a board on Pinterest on which I regularly pin recipes I would like to try (http://pinterest.com/chetnac/must-try-recipes/). So I cook dinner every now and then, and sometimes lunch or breakfast over the weekend simply by pulling up this board.
Along the way I’ve realised a few things. One is to never hesitate to change a few ingredients as long as the substitutes enhance the flavours and not murder the dish. Also you may want to change the proportion in which an ingredient is to be used simply out of preference. For instance making it spicier or tangier than mentioned in the recipe. Secondly if you don’t have a certain ingredient, it’s ok. There is always a substitute. Google ‘substitute for….’ and you will find a bunch of options one of which is sure to be in stock in your kitchen. Thirdly if cooking time has been mentioned use a stop watch for a the first few times. It will save you the trouble of trying to repair an undercooked bird or throwing out burnt feathers.
Stuffed chicken breast: This was the first dish I tried. It’s pan-fried chicken breast stuffed with cheese, jalapenos and bacon, coated with breadcrumbs. While the recipe called for cheddar cheese and bacon stuffing, I used goat cheese and paprika salamis. The trickiest part in this recipe is cutting the chicken breast to create the pocket for the stuffing and pinning that with toothpicks once you’ve stuffed it. I used the bread crumbs to seal the portions between the toothpicks. Also, since I used goat cheese instead of cheddar I did not have to worry about the cheese oozing out too much. And this was my first attempt at being ‘fancy’ chef, I stuck with the easy to make mashed potatoes as a side dish. The original recipe can be found on…
Chicken in mustard-maple sauce with zucchini-goat cheese rolls and feta dip: This is my ‘no time need to cook dinner’ chicken dish. I even made this for my first Christmas Eve dinner this year. Although I have learnt that you need to add some water to the mustard and maple syrup combination since it’s too strong in flavour otherwise. Also, in the original recipe the chicken had to be baked, but I pan-fried it since I’m a bit oven phobic. Anyways, it’s the zucchini that needs more attention than the chicken in this meal. Slicing the zucchini lengthwise can be a bit of task. If it’s sliced too thin, it may tear when rolling and if it’s too thick then rolling it is a problem. I also used the feta dip as more of a salad than a dip. But other than that this meal took 40 minutes of prep and cooking time.
Zucchini roll ups: http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,10000001713091,00.html
Feta dip: http://www.memoriesoncloverlane.com/2010/11/recipe-that-will-make-your-life-easier.html
Brazilian stew: I tried this stew when the South Indian in me was craving a coconutty lunch. My first thought was to make Thai curry but I didn’t have all the ingredients at hand. Also, the actual Moqueca de Camaroes or Brazilian stew is a prawn dish. I made it with broccoli, mushrooms and chicken since I didn’t have any prawns at home. Served with steaming rice this dish screams ‘comfort food’.
I have also made apple cinnamon pancakes which have become quite the favourite in my office and some no bake desserts – nuttella mousse and vanilla panacotta. Thanks to Pinterest I’m trying to make friends with my oven and I’m slowly trying dishes that are more tedious in terms of ingredients, process and time. So much so that I have even tried my hand at Indian recipes like chicken biryani and mutton pepper fry. Guess I’m learning how to be a patient cook. After all my most important lesson in the kitchen has been… ‘patience’ is the most important ingredient.