Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Follow up to quiz à la Amanda

And here's another one...

What's rotting in the back of your fridge right now?

Nothing! This is not to say that I am never wasteful; certainly, I get too excited about all the peas, beans, sprouts, kale, etc and over-purchase for my single-girl household, then end up chucking a wilted bag of ick now and then. But, as a Virgo, I keep my fridge operating like a well-oiled machine of organisation…once something even flirts with expiry, it’s gone.

Who inspired you to cook?

First, my mother, and later my (now ex) boyfriend. My mom taught me the basics, and my ex encouraged me to let go of the cookbook rules.

What was the first dish you remember cooking as a child?

Shake ‘n Bake! It was my show-off dish since I was allowed to prepare it for the most part without supervision, and could serve it to my parents and brother like I had created the ultimate culinary masterpiece. No one coated chicken legs in bread crumbs like me.

What ingredient do you always have in your refrigerator or pantry at home?

Butter. Flour. Eggs. All I need to prepare fresh shortcrust pastry, anytime, any day, at a moment’s notice!

What snack food can you not live without?

Hmmmm…hmmmm…now that I think about it, there isn’t one, really. I’d say “bourbon”, but that might give everyone to wrong idea.

What dish or dishes would you say you have mastered?

Roast chicken (not the Shake ‘n Bake variety of my youth, now we’re talking a perfect lemon and thyme basted bird, slow roasted while the kitchen grows steamy and delicious smelling).

Pastry (pies, tarts tatins, etc, all built from the ground up).

Quick pastas made from whatever vegetables, bits of cured meat, olives and random things that are loitering in the fridge on evenings I just can’t face the supermarket and didn’t have time to shop at better shops on my way home. This is not to say I am a grocery store snob—but remember, this is Ontario, land of monster-malls and supermarkets with one aisle of veg and thirty acres of boxed, frozen and processed crap.

If you could have dinner with three people from any time in history, who would they be?

Julia Child, because of her foul language, pragmatic approach, and gigantic stature. I would love to see how tall she sat in her chair.

Oscar the Grouch—I mean honestly, who doesn’t want to know what one of his chocolate, relish and ice cream sundaes tastes like? When I was small, I ached to find out if such a dish was really all that bad, and how deeply I would gag after taking a single bite.

I’d love to attend a Roman banquet, complete with stuffed peacock, thirty-course meals, and pillows to lounge on while eating to the point of collapse. I don’t think I want to do all that gorging, but I would love to see the meal laid out!

What ingredient do you despise?

It’s all about context. Raw mushroom makes me feel like I am eating earlobes. But, small slices of cooked mushroom are delicious. Eggplant chopped small and stewed in a pasta sauce is lovely; slabs of it deep-fried or blobs puréed and dumped in a bowl? Bleh! Wet bread…oh my god, wet bread…No dipping or dunking or sogging or soaking. No plunging crusts into lattés or soups or stews. Bread is not for mopping!

What ingredient do you rely on most?

Black pepper.

Favourite kitchen tool?

A good knife. I wish I owned one; regrettably, I do not.

Dessert or cheese?


Bourgogne or Bordeaux?

Are we talking in a street fight? Knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out battle royal? I don’t know that I could choose sides in this match.

What's your one weakness as a cook?

Excess concern about things “turning out just right”.

And your strength?

Following a recipe—this sounds boring, sure, but if you can read and follow and do and make, and let the words on the page direct your hands, then baking is your kingdom.

Best music to cook to?

Shhhhh…silence in the kitchen! How else to hear the bubbling and sizzling?

What new dish are you planning to try in the near future?

Braised short-ribs.

1 comment:

  1. You are most definitely a baker, Amanda! I am most certainly not. The alchemy of it all eludes me, and I prefer to leave it to my boyfriend. Kudos to you for the mastery of pastry.

    I am now imagining a fight to the death between an Aloxe-Corton and a Pauillac. Zinfandel took one hit from a Fleurie in qualifying rounds and headed home in tears. Barolo collapsed under its own weight in the semi-finals and had to be air-lifted out....