Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Almost Mexican Dinner

Mondays are busy. I get home only at 6 pm, I have about 15 minutes to get up to my apartment, pack my guitar and drive to my tutor where I spend one and a half hours. So I am really only home at 8.30 pm if I am lucky, most of the time I get home at 8.45 pm. As you can imagine, I rarely cook on Mondays, but this time I was craving some carbs and I had some dying avocados in the fridge and I really really wanted to try one very simple recipe out.

At 8.45 I opened my fridge and found no bread. Well, it wasn't really a surprise for me since we finished the last of it this weekend. But my body needed carbs (and I always listen to my body!), so I found my Big Book of Bread and leafed through it. Breads - take too long and it's already too late; Quick Breads - have to bake them for 50 minutes; Flat Breads... Stop! My mind went back to the kitchen, to the fridge, to those mushy avocados. Guacamole and tortillas! Sounds excellent.

It took me about 5 minutes to mix the dough in my trusty KitchenAid mixer and I started on my lentil soup which was on my "to make" list for quite some time. While the soup was simmering, I mixed a simple guacamole spread and began rolling my tortillas. The recipe said to divide the dough in 12 pieces. Which I did. And then I was supposed to roll each piece into a 10 inch circle. Which I didn't. How on earth was I supposed to do it? My stretched and pulled dough was paper-thin, but nowhere near 10 inches, more like 5 inches. Ok, I am not even going to mention my so-called "circles". After the first two tortillas I gave up on making the perfect rounds and just rolled it out as best as I could.

The result: in 45 minutes I had a stack of 12 delicious, warm, homemade tortillas, a wonderful, garlic lemon lentil soup and a guacamole. Not bad, eh?

Guacamole turned out to be a very terrible model, so no picture of it...

Wheat Tortillas

Lemon Lentil Soup

Monday, May 28, 2007

Where I come from...

I grew up on a simple but very tasty Russian food. Chicken, potatoes, soup, liver, meatballs -- these were staples at our dinner table. It was never fancy and the closest my mom's cooking came to French food was when she made my favourite Beef-French Style. I am not sure why it was called that, but that was the name. It was just simple pieces of beef, layered with onions, cheese, mayo and then baked. The crust was the best! –°heesy and gooey. The food was very quick, simple. Pan fried chicken thighs (I never really liked chicken breasts) and boiled buckwheat or pork chops with mashed potatoes or liver with lots of flavourful sauteed onions or... I rarely make this food now... It's too nostalgic, it reminds me too much of my life before I came to Canada, of my childhood...

My grandparents grew a lot of fruits and vegetables at their cottage (not farm). Nothing comes close to tomatoes that they grew at there hot house. Fragrant, sweet, meaty! I've never tasted anything like it since then. There were different types of cucumbers, apples, potatoes, strawberries. Oh, how I miss black, white and red currants, gooseberries, wild strawberries, sour cherries that I had as a child. It's at our cottage that I wanted to cook and I did so with my grandma a few times, nothing special, just some sandwiches, but I was, oh, so proud of myself.

I was never interested in cooking when I was young. And my mom never forced me to be in the kitchen. She always said that I have my whole life to be in a kitchen when I grow up and I should just enjoy my childhood without worrying about cooking or cleaning. I thank my mom for that, for my carefree childhood days, for me not knowing how to do the dishes until I was 12. It is one of the best gifts that she gave me... My memories with no worries or troubles in sight...

And now, so many years later, when I washed and cleaned numerous pots and dishes. Now when my thoughts run around food, baking, ingredients all the time. Now when I cannot imagine my life without my kitchen. Now when I am learning to properly caramelize onions, to make a perfect creamy ice cream, to bake a flourless chocolate torte... Now I am here! I am here to share my love for this amazing, wonderful art - Cooking and Baking.