Every since I started posting pictures of food I was cooking and “playing” with, I would occasionally get a request for the recipe. Sadly, I’m not a recipe person and because I don’t follow recipes myself, I find it very hard to write them up even if I know exactly what I did.
I have started to experiment a little bit with food now, but because my household is vegetarian, and even though I’ll eat non-vegetarian food sometimes, I can’t bring myself around to cooking meat or seafood of any kind. This somewhat limits what I can do especially because traditional North Indian food is cooked on a regular basis by other family members, especially my Dad, and there’s no point trying to play with something that’s already nice.
So, whatever little I do is about using the ingredients that are available around me. I can’t tell you about the quantities because most of the time I cook with whatever is in front of me, adding at times absurd ingredients. A bit of burnt butter to cook the pasta sauce, some leaves to garnish the toasties, or just multiple types of cheese to add flavour to eggs, lots and lots of different kinds of herbs, whatever is around gets added to the food I’m making. Even though I am nowhere close to plating food like they do on the numerous TV food shows, my inspiration for cooking usually comes from having come across a food photo that I liked. I then alter the ingredients and try and make it my own.
Below are some of my experiments with food, which come with a short description of the ingredients. If you like anything, just get the ingredients, add some you like, remove the ones you don’t, and things will eventually work out well. Don’t be afraid to play around with it. Trust me, as long as you don’t burn it (unless that was your plan from the start), it’ll taste great, if not to others, it will to at least to yourself;
Salads are the simplest of preparations which require only basic cutting skills. While you can go overboard with adding and combining different ingredients, the magic is in taking everyday household ingredients – different types of beans, chickpeas, cucumber for garnishing, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and some lemon juice – and mixing them up to get the healthiest, freshest, and the most colorful snack around.
You don’t always need pizza dough to make pizza. Instead, go for a homemade version by replacing the dough with multigrain bread. The rest is the same – tomato sauce, olives, spring onions, cheese, few different veggies – with only one exception, toast up the bread a little before you load it up and place it in the oven.
Staying far away from the noodle controversy going on in the country, I love me a little “Chow Mein” made with Wai Wai noodles and a whole lot of different vegetables that bring the necessary taste, colour, and crunch to every bite. There are other brands of “Hakka Noodles” and each is a little different – my wife prefers the ones that are a bit sticky whereas I like it when the noodles separate out easily.
Let’s get one thing straight; fried eggs should only ever be served “Sunny Side Up”. Here we have four gorgeous friend eggs with glistening yolks topped with some equally beautiful ingredients such as sundried tomatoes, basil leaves, lots of herbs, cherry tomatoes, thyme, pepper, cooked in olive oil and served with crisp toasted bread. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks, although transferring it onto a plate was a little tricky. However, I would like to mention that bits of crispy bacon would have taken this to a whole different level altogether.
The other day, while watching My Kitchen Rules on TV, I realized that a sandwich or as they call it, a Toastie, can be done with French bread/ Baguette as well. It’s already a little hard and crispy and baking/toasting it makes it perfect for that loveable crunch with every bite. The best thing though is that because they are smaller in size, you can actually have different ingredients in different toasties and this allows for some fun experimentation. The pictured ones though had pesto, kasundi mustard, olives, cheese, sundried tomatoes, and a generous spread of herbed butter. If you eat cold cuts, then they can definitely add a different texture and taste to the toasties as well. Just remember, like the bread, the ingredients should also be cut small and stick to 3-4 ingredients per toastie maximum.
This one is a Conchiglie filled with cottage cheese and soya with a Jamie Oliver Rosemary pasta sauce, with extra cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, herbs, black olives, and pan friend mozzarella and tomatoes on the side. I might have gone overboard with the tomatoes in this one. However, there was no need to pan fry the cheese and tomatoes, as I would in hindsight have rather kept them “fresh” and cold which would be a nice contrast to the hotness of the pasta.
Another version of the fried eggs, and this time two single eggs are plated along with pesto, a couple of different types of cheeses, black olives, coriander, pieces of toasted bread, sundried tomatoes (again!), and did you look at the oozing egg yolk, because nothing else should matter in the end.
One of my favourites, Conchiglie stuffed with spinach and cottage cheese in Marinara topped with cheddar, black olives, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil leaves. The idea came from the wife, but the execution and the extra bits were all my doing.
Lastly, Gnocchi in tomato/cheese sauce with cherry tomatoes, spinach, black olives with even more cheese and basil leaves on top for garnishing. Simple, especially with store bought gnocchi which wasn’t all that bad.
If you still want the recipe for one of these, even though I don’t think it’s required, you are more than welcome to come on over and I’ll try to make the dish again just for you. Try…