THE WELL STOCKED KITCHEN. Part 3
We all start out a little frightened when we begin cooking in our first apartment, for family or for friends. It’s SCARY. I know – I was scared to death of so many things…. For one – not being able to follow a recipe and other fears were and to be honest, still are — such as my dishes not tasting good or to everyone’s liking. Over Spicing was always a considerable fear until I learned how not to over spice but to merely add a moderate amount especially of salt or pepper and if needed to add more for the final tasting before serving. You can always add spice – but you can’t take it away if you over spice.
What I have found to be a foolproofway to have the basic knowledge of specific basic staple recipes. After knowing and mastering those – then you can spread your wings to either Romance that Pan by adding your own creative touch as well as being brave enough to venture out and begin to learn so many more recipes.
Before I get to those few basic recipes – let me tell you a few other stories. AND — if you get bored with my incessant ramblings – just skip ahead to the recipes…
Another passion of mine is keeping my family and friends coming back at least once a week to all “break bread” together. Those Sundays , around the world meals, is my key. BUT – always one Sunday each month I make my Italian family traditionally Sunday meal. Yes – it is — Sunday meat sauce, delicious pasta, a cool, refreshing salad and espresso to round the meal off. Oh – let’s not forget the red table wine to accompany the meal. So – make it a Sunday, an Every Sunday — Food Festival. There is nothing better than good food, good drink and good conversation with family and friends. ( If the menu doesn’t entice your family — use what always worked for my mother and now me — “the old standby — Italian guilt”. It really works.)
Several years ago I finally figured out, after many years of working — it hit me like a ton of bricks. What? My passion in life was cooking!
I always told my daughter Ali to find her passion. To love waking up in the morning, to love what you do for your life’s work…
So although many of us are career people with full-time job’s and full lives, we should always take the time for our own enjoyment and especially for our Sunday dinner gathering. For example, take my mother, my mother made cooking into an art form. Her kitchen was her studio, her office. Her love for us and of course for that creative side to be fulfilled made her passion so exciting to watch, smell, see her move around the kitchen in a symphonic motion and to taste those beautiful dishes, Those times are still, until today, my “home”, my “comfort zone”, and my aunt (I’m not sure what word you are going for) and the feeling of pride for her.
She inspired me to be passionate about food as she always was. As I look back on my life – those times as a child watching her cook,create,learning from her and to hear her laughter as she taught me – is still the highest sense of love I will have as one of the most memorable times in my mind and heart.
Because of my Italian upbringing in a family that was so much of the stereotypical family as you could ever imagine — I learned that food, and love goes hand in hand.
Now – I’m not saying that only the Italians live by the code of “loving to eat,” but we are up there!
What I do know for sure is that we all pretty much want the same things in life- Love, Happiness, Success, Good Health and Family.
As Virginia Wolf Quoted — “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well”… So true.
IF YOU TRULY WANT TO BRING AND KEEP FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOGETHER AND HAPPY — MY ADVICE IS — EAT AND EAT WELL TOGETHER… Everything else will fall into place.
When you create a good meal, when you break bread, when you share a meal with family and friends — YOU MAKE LOVE…
Here are those basic, staple RECIPES – always a must to know in your kitchen:
THE FIVE MOTHER SAUCES:
These are the five basic sauces which are the base point for many other variation sauces. The mother sauces are called that because they are the “head” or the “mother” of their own, unique “family” of sauces.
1. BECHAMEL SAUCE
2 TBSP UNSALTED BUTTER
2 TBSP ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR
2 CUPS OF WHOLE MILK
1/4 TSP SALT
PINCH OF NUTMEG
* HEAT MILK IN A SAUCEPAN
* OVER MEDIUM HEAT MELT BUTTER
* STIR IN FLOUR, WHISK FOR 1-2 MINUTES CONSTANTLY SO THAT SCORCHING DOES NOT HAPPEN
* WHEN MIXTURE TURNS TO CREAM COLOR, REMOVE PAN FROM HEAT
* WHISK IN ROOM TEMP. MILK AND PLACE SAUCE BACK ON LOW HEAT. WHISK CONSTANTLY UNTIL SAUCE THICKENS.
* ADD NUTMEG AND SALT.
* SIMMER FOR ANOTHER 5-6 MINUTES.
2. VELOUTE’ SAUCE
5 TBSP BUTTER
4 TBSP ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
4 CUPS OF CHICKEN OR VEGETABLE BROTH
SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
* IN A SAUCEPAN MELT BUTTER AND WHISK IN FLOUR OVER MEDIUM HEAT UNTIL A SMOOTH PASTE-LIKE CONSISTENCY. APPROXIMATELY – 2 MINUTES
* GRADUALLY ADD 1/4 CUP OF STOCK. WHISK CONSTANTLY UNTIL SAUCE IS THOROUGH HEATED AND THICK AND SMOOTH.
* REMOVE FROM HEAT AND ADD SALT AND PEPPER.
3. BROWN SAUCE
6 THIN SLICES OF ONION
4 TBSP BUTTER – MELTED
3 1/2 TBSP OF ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
2 CUPS OF BEEF BROTH
1/4 CUP OF RED OR WHITE DRY WINE
PEPPER AND SALT TO TASTE
* IN A MEDIUM SAUCEPAN SAUTEE ONIONS IN BUTTER
*. COOK OVER LOW HEAT UNTIL BEGINS TO BROWN
* STIR IN FLOUR, CONSTANTLY STIRRING UNTIL SMOOTH CONSISTENCY AND THICKENS. WHEN SAUCE BEGINS TO BUBBLE – REMOVE FROM HEAT.
* PEPPER AND SALT TO TASTE
4. HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
3 EGG YOLKS
1 TBSP WATER
2 TBSP LEMON JUICE
6-9 OZ SOFTENED UNSALTED BUTTER
1/4 TSP CAYENNE PEPPER
SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE
* WHISK THE EGG YOLKS AND LEMON JUICE IN SAUCE PAN UNTIL THICKENS AND TURNS A PALE COLOR.
* PLACE PAN OVER LOW HEAT AND CONTINUE TO WHISK ON MEDIUM HEAT WHILE HEATING ALL AREAS OF THE PAN INCLUDING THE BOTTOM.
* SO THAT THE EGGS DO NOT COOK KEEP TAKING THE PAN OFF OF THE HEAT EVERY 20-25 SECONDS FOR A 5 SECOND REST.
* AS EGGS COOK THEY WILL LOOK FROTHY AND INCREASE IN VOLUME, AS WELL AS THICKEN. WHEN SMOOTH – REMOVE FROM HEAT.
* IN SMALL AMOUNTS ADD SOFTENED BUTTER, CONSTANTLY WHISKING. KEEP ADDING BUTTER, WHISKING UNTIL SAUCE THICKENS TO YOUR DESIRED LIKENESS.
* ADD PEPPER, SALT, CAYENNE – WHISKING
* SERVE WARM.
5. BASIC TOMATO SAUCE
1/3 CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
2 MEDIUM ONIONS DICED
8 GARLIC CLOVE, SMALL CHOP
3/4 CUP FRESH SWEET BASIL CUT
3 TBSP FRESH OREGANO
4 TBSP BUTTER
1/3 CUP RED WINE
1/2 MEDIUM CARROT – FINELY GRATED
2 – 28 OZ CANS OF WHOLE PEELED TOMATO’S (PREFERABLY – SAN MARZANO TOMATOES) AR PLACING THEM IN POT – SQUEEZE IN HANDS.
1/4 CUP GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE
* IN A LARGE SAUCEPAN – HEAT OLIVE OIL ON MEDIUM HEAT
* ADD GARLIC AND ONION – COOK UNTIL GOLD COLOR, DO NOT BURN — ABOUT 6-8 MINUTES
* ADD TOMATOES AND JUICE CONTENTS- BRING TO A BOIL – — LOWER HEAT TO LOW TEMPERATURE. STIR OFTEN TO PREVENT BOTTOM OF POT FROM BURNING.
* ADD THE REST OF THE INGREDIENTS – STILL STIRRING OFTEN.
* SIMMER FOR 1 HOUR
My Passion is Food, Cooking and most importantly — Eating!!!