Thursday, July 29, 2010

Meat sauce

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I don't think I am fond of meat sauce in pasta. At least I haven't cooked one I really go for.

Pasta sauces I have loved includes:
- carbonara;
- bacon with onions, garlic, chili and tomatoes;
- fresh tomato and basil;
- fresh tomato and olives and parsley;
- onion; and
- pumpkin.

But meat? Well, I didn't go crazy for my long simmering ragu from Essentials, which could have been my pasta, my tomatoes, my heat, or anything, and just now, I've cooked Giuliano Hazan's short mince sauce from his 30 Minute Pasta with fresh tomatoes.

I just don't really react to it. I think that the flavour is just too subtle for me. It doesn't drag me in and make me happy like the sauces listed above.

It may be because when I cooked mince in thai cooking I used heaps and heaps of garlic, heaps and heaps of chili, and thai basil. Delicious! Blows your mind when on song!

But I don't know if that's the case, because I like other softer Italian flavours.

Perhaps I am just not fond of fried mince without much else to jazz it up.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bit improvisation

Now, where was I?

Well I've done some cooking using Hazan inspired technique in the last couple of days.

First, I cooked a minestrone style soup using veges of choice, meat broth from the freezer, and a parmesan rind. It was delicious. Possibly the best I've had.

Second, I had a chicken breast cooked in the veal scaloppine style, except with bacon, sage and a butter and a white wine sauce.

Finally, I'm cooking a chicken fricasseed with garlic, rosemary, red wine, tomatoes and ultimately olives.

Each was cooked effortlessly without reference to a recipe because the ingredients took my fancy or they were what was on hand.

I think I'm getting more comfortable improvising.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Oven browned tomatoes

This is a dish that Marcella admits in a future book (I can't remember which one) that she cooks all the time.

You can see why. It's so easy and a good way to use up tomatoes that don't have a whole lot of life left in them.

I served mine with a lamb sausage I found at the Chandler markets. They were both delicious. Strangely the sausages were so good - pretty well no fat came out of them. I have never had anything like it.

Anyway, back to the tomato. It was superb. The flavour was intense, as Marcella foreshadowed. Cooking it in the oven brings out the essence of tomato (as the liquid disappears). The tomatoes were not burnt, but they were shriveled and brown.

I've put the left overs in a container and will munch them during the week, perhaps on a sandwich.

I might use a little less garlic next time I cook these. There will be a next time - I think this is something I could make every week, as it would seem Marcella does or at least did at one stage.

Although it is not Italian, for those with an interest I also found some turnips at the market, and bought them, a potato, a leek and some onions to make a soup, which I did. I used my frozen chicken stock and also a little cream and made a french style vege soup with my market spoils. Beautiful I must say, and I was pleased as I had not cooked turnips in a soup before.

So tell me, how would an Italian make a soup with the following: 1 potato, 1 leek, garlic, 3 turnips, assuming staples in the kitchen? Would it be the same as the simple french technique but with meat broth and not pureeing it at the end and no little bit of cream?

We finished with the most beautiful strawberries you have ever tasted (in season in winter in Brisbane), bought from the farmer who grew them, as well as a winter pineapple, which apparently is different from a summer one. The pineapple only cost $1. The turnips, potato and onions only cost $5.

Who said you can't eat well for 10 bucks.