Week Twenty Nine – Playing With My Food

In the early nineties I saw a chef on television make a dessert of chocolate spaghetti with chocolate orange sauce. I have long since forgotten who the chef was or what the programme was but I will never forget chocolate pasta. It was awful. Mainly because although I saw it made I didn’t actually bother to pay attention to the ingredients. I think I got the pasta right by replacing one third of the flour with cocoa but, with retrospect, I have a feeling that the sauce should have been made from dark chocolate, cream and maybe some orange zest rather than cornflour, orange juice and cocoa. It didn’t help that I have never been able to taste the difference in a flavoured pasta; tomato or spinach pasta are just there for the pretty colours so all the flavour came from the abominable sauce.

I think I enjoy cooking because it feels like playing. Recipes are always just guidelines which is probably why I am so terrible at baking: I measure by eye and that doesn’t really work with cakes.

The thing that turned me onto cooking as a form of play was making mayonnaise. I always find it amazing that mayonnaise was discovered; somebody sat down one day with an egg yolk and some oil and found that only by slowly whisking the oil into the yolk would it emulsify. I would have poured the oil in in one go and then given it up as a bad job. I can remember the first time I made it watching in wonder as the oil slowly emulsified.

Last year I made some vegan mayo for non egg eating relatives (simply replace the egg yolk with two table spoons of soya milk). Rachel at Catalan Cooking has a recipe for allioli that contains no eggs at all and which is apparently quite a challenge. Next time I have to make an egg free version I will be giving it a go.

Of course being on a diet means that I can’t make things for which the main ingredient is oil. There is still lots of room for playing though and it is always fun adding a few ingredients and creating something which is greater than the sum of its parts.

Green Veg with Garlic and Piqillo Peppers
1 head broccoli or 2 courgettes or asparagus or a mixture, sliced
100g Piqillo Peppers sliced
2 Cloves Garlic Sliced
1 tbl Olive Oil
1 Anchovy chopped (optional)

In the oil gently fry the Garlic (and anchovy) then turn up the heat and stir fry the veg until cooked. Stir through and warm the peppers before serving

I thought I would do well at the weigh in this week but when it turned out I had only lost a pound I thought about it and realised that I was lucky to lose anything. I really must start knuckling down again.

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