On my to-do list for 2017 is to delve back into taking photos of my cooking projects and document my various recipes and personal adaptations for the purpose of writing a cookbook–something I’ve wanted to do for about 16 years.
This is my first post on cooking and food.
On the menu the other night was roast duck, mashed potato, cranberry sauce, and red wine.
I don’t order duck in restaurants because I have a technique that cooks the fat out and toasts the skin in a way I had never seen done outside of my own kitchen or my mother’s. Time and patience are the keys. You do not cook duck like chicken and turkey.
As for the mashed potato, my brother and son both rave about my invented recipe, so it can’t be too bad.
All my kids know how to cook. My son, the youngest, was a gourmet chef since age 12, beginning with French rosemary chicken breast in garlic cream sauce, made from scratch with fresh herbs and seasonings and only the purest of ingredients.
Cooking is an art as much as a science, and everyone develops his or her specialties. Just as with a painting, you can paint the same subject and emulate the same artist’s style, but each masterpiece will be an original.
These mashed potatoes may look plain and ordinary, but they’re tastier than they appear. The trick is in what potatoes you start with, how you cook them, and how much real butter you add.
How it all started
Because I’m analytical and anal by nature, and calories stick to my ribs like flies to honey–my body was built for a famine my country may never see–anything I make has to be worth its weight (no pun intended) in flavour, a.k.a. cost-benefit.
Normally, I like lighter food, which you will see more of in the coming months. But this plate is a winter holiday meal.
I’m not a carb craver. I eat potatoes for their nutritional value, but only high quality, less starchy ones. I use pure meat drippings rather than cornstarch- or flour-laden gravy. If I have to eat rice, I use a brown-and-wild mix. I avoid bread as much as humanly possible unless it’s yeasty East Indian nan or I’m in Europe, and pasta just isn’t worth bothering with unless it’s in my lasagna. (I still hear the Italian waiter’s horrified voice on the night our school arrived late at the hotel restaurant in Rome in 1982: “No spaGHETti?!” In truth, my stomach was overfilled and upset from a flight plagued by delays and too much junk food. I had no idea I would offend the man to such an extent. But it was Italy. When in Rome, you know? I ended up accepting a small portion so the poor man wouldn’t have a stroke.)
Typically, I prefer meals that involve vegetables, lentils, high-quality eggs, and certain meats and fish. I’m a fan of oatmeal and steel-cut oats on occasion. I’ve developed or adapted recipes that suit my palette as well as my wallet. My goal is to formalize these and share them with others in my cookbook. I also want to include my family’s Czech-based recipes and some baking.
When you can’t duck out of special occasions, there’s a meal for that
According to our family’s traditional Boxing Day meal, roast duck is supposed to come with Czech potato dumplings and specially prepared, cooked red cabbage. Since I had neither at my disposal, mashed potatoes and cranberries were the substitute.
This unlucky duck ended up inside some bellies, but it made a succulent meal, far tastier than chicken and even turkey (which is saying a lot, since I’m a turkey fan).
On the menu tomorrow: duck soup. Save the bones to stretch your dollars and increase nutrition.
Dobrou chuť! Bon appétit!