Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What a Top Chef Taught Me....

I had the pleasure last week of reading Tom Colicchio's cookbook, "Think Like a Chef."  As I've explored new culinary realms, I keep coming back to the same message in so many cookbooks - learn the basics.  What does that really mean?  In case you're not sure, boiling water is probably the most basic!   The idea is that if you learn a technique, say sauteeing, you can saute anything.  Same for roasting.  If you can roast beef, you can roast pork, chicken, fish, etc.

The other idea is to cook for the season with veggies.  Start planning a meal with the veggies and add in the protein and starch from there.  I'm not quite at that point, but I have friends participating in veggie co-ops that definitely have that technique mastered!  This is really a contrast to complicated recipes like those in "The Silver Palate" Cookbook.  I re-read the book after TC's tome and my head was spinning at the level of complication to most every recipe.  While I'm sure the food is faboo, recipes with so many ingredients and complicated steps are not the way to cook most days and have dinner on the table at a reasonable hour!

The idea that stayed with me from the books was to jazz up something simple with a special touch.  It goes back to the basics - use a technique to cook, then add something special to elevate the dish.  I was inspired to try pasta with truffle butter.  What, you ask, is truffle butter?  It is, admittedly, a luxury ingredient.  Pieces of black truffle are mixed into butter adding a rich, intensely mushroomy musky flavor.  A little bit goes a long way, so even though it's a pricey buy, it lasts a while.  In the recipe below, for example, they call for a whole carton.  I used about a Tablespoon and enjoyed a subtle, mellow flavor.

Reading Colicchio's book re-inspired the desire to make a simple dish with great flavor.  I originally saw the recipe for a truffle butter pasta on "Barefoot Contessa" and was dying to try it.  And the taste?  Mushroomy, earthy, cheesy, and a nice touch of onion from the chives!  Here's a pic of Ina's dish and a link to the recipe.  Happy eating!

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