WATERMELON, OLIVE AND FETA SALAD WITH BALSAMIC REDUCTION

I think I enjoy taking pictures of the food that I cook a wee bit more than I enjoy cooking it. Oh no, did I just come on here and admit that? But here’s the thing – just because I love taking pictures of the food that I cook, more, it doesn’t mean that the degree to which I like making them should go down, right? No, that doesn’t make sense and I just wanted to confuse you into believing me by twisting it up. Has your head gone for a toss yet?

You know what they say about pictures being better than a thousand words? Well, I guess my pictures are my write-up on this one.

The deal is pretty much set with this simple salad : with every mouthful, you get saltiness from the Feta cheese, pungent sweetness from the balsamic-brown sugar glaze, zest from the mint leaves, and all of it in a way where the freshness of the watermelon is not threatened. This combination is so refreshing, you’ll be craving it all summer long!

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SPAGHETTI ALL’ARRABBIATA aka Angry Pasta

The first time I came across this dish, I thought it was some sort of an exotic Italian-Middle eastern fusion type thing. I think that shows in the way that I pronounce it as well..arrrrabiata. Any Italian reading this, please pardon my ignorance (if you’re still reading, you’ll be pleased to know that I didn’t go too crazy with the authenticity of the recipe). But the thing is, when you’ve been pronouncing something wrong for a period of time, even after someone corrects you and you’ve figured out the right pronunciation, you just can’t go back to switching it up, you know?

While we’re on this topic, did you know that ‘arrabbiata’ actually means ‘angry’ in Italian? Anger in the form of fieriness and heat from the chillies. I am a real sucker for food facts.

Also, speaking of authenticity, a true food connoisseur would use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of the common Parmesan that we tend to substitute it with. It’s the quintessential king of cheeses and can be called ‘Parmigiano-Reggiano’ only if its production follows a set of stringent rules set forth by the Italian DOC (Controlled designation of origin). One among them is that it has to be made in the months between May and November and only in certain stipulated areas of Italy. A little like how Champagne cannot be used as a generic name for sparkling wine. No wonder a tiny block of this super-fromage costs an arm and a leg!

Anyway, I just used regular Parmesan for this recipe and it tasted divine, but go ahead and indulge in some of the expensive stuff if you are so inclined.

{Quickly want to point out the changes that I made : a pinch of oregano that wasn’t in the recipe, and sugar to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes. Added olives. The measurements of the ingredients are slightly different too}. Continue reading

STIR-FRIED RICE NOODLES WITH MINCED PORK AND BLACK BEAN

Really not a lot to say about stir-fries that hasn’t been said before. Using a few pantry staples and whatever vegetables you have on hand, you can whip up something delicious in a matter of minutes. They come in handy especially when, say, you’ve been homebound for a week and are running out of options, and you have scraps of leftover vegetables moping around in the refrigerator begging to be productive in some way.

A new regular in my kitchen that I’ve been using in just about everything that I feel would carry its intense flavour and saltiness – fermented black bean. A little bit goes a long way and the spicy pungency it provides is definitely a game changer in any stir-fry. The next time you make fried rice, add a teaspoon of it to your eggs before you whisk them up and scramble. I tried this neat trick once, and haven’t had it any other way since.

I understand (I do, really) that not every recipe is as blank a canvas as a grilled chicken, but this stir-fry sure is. Add/omit ingredients as you wish and taste taste taste as you go along!

Recipes are not strict rules that you have to play by (stand aside, soufflé), but merely loose parameters that guide you. Believe in your abilities and learn from your mistakes – you will not only have a new pairing combo up your sleeve, but might even chance upon something that you will love that you would not have thought about. This is not a feminist statement, but in my books, the more kitchen empowerment, the better.

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