Planning ahead

When I became conscious–somewhere around 30–I started to live an exclusively spontaneous life, because I had very little idea of what I wanted or what I loved, except independence. I searched for work, men, and places to live that had no ties. I had no schedule and no phone number. The idea of commitment to anything gave me a rash.
Then I fell in love with my husband, and somewhere around the same time, with cooking. I found I wasn’t happy without a constant dose of both. Thank God they travel.
If when you walk into the grocery store, you walk in with no list and no sense of what you want to make, because you feel “I don’t want to rope myself in, I want to do new, I want to do different, I want to do absolutely fabulous”, it is very possible that you are going to leave the grocery store–tired, with a bag of frozen peas, some crazy looking vegetable you never saw before, a bag of cookies, and a loaf of bread. And then stop for take out before you get home.
I am a big believer in waiting for love or lust to strike, but an idea of what your main course will be, can be a pillar of support and increase your chances of actually cooking.
Think about something you know you’ll want to eat–minestrone soup or a seared and roasted chicken with potatoes, as givens and what goes with, who knows–a salad of fresh figs, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves with the chicken, or a gorgeous saute of wild mushrooms in the standard soup.
Cookbooks with the pictures are an inspiration. I opened up an Alfred Portale book to a beautiful piece of fish “en papillote” (a paper pocket). I have complete faith in the man that any recipe will be worth the life experience.
Cut out a circle of parchment, lay down a few sprigs of cilantro, and a few green onions in the center of the circle, and set an individual filet on top. Give the filet a seasoning of salt and pepper on both sides. Grate on a little lemon zest, a little fresh ginger zest, a spoonful of soy sauce and a few drips of sesame oil. Top each with a tablespoon of unsalted butter. Pull one edge over to meet the other, and crimp it up like a calzone. Bake until the pocket puffs up at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes on a cookie sheet. Cut the pocket open, set the fish on a platter, and baste with the the juices. Scatter on fresh thinly sliced green onion and cilantro. I might work my way through the book page by page.

Leave a Reply