One of my greatest fears in cooking, before I knew how to cook, was making something incorrectly. What if roasting a beet would make it poisonous? (It won’t.) What if I accidentally failed to cook that chicken for long enough? (A greater fear should have been overcooking.) If I was unfamiliar with an ingredient, I would read as much as I could in cookbooks and online before even starting anything. And if I couldn’t find the exact process, I wouldn’t make it. So, I typically stayed within my comfort zone of foods.
That fear, coupled with a lack of knowledge of ingredients, led to dozens of soups with different add-ins that tasted strangely the same. It was a sad, sad time for my culinary endeavors.
So, I understand the fear of using new ingredients. I really do. But embracing new tastes and techniques will not only enrich your recipes, but your life. There is a wide world of flavors and tastes and textures out there just waiting for you to explore.
No. Everything won’t work. As a close friend, Virtual Frolic, recently said to me:
Well, if we got things right in the first try, we’d all be famous chefs =)
She couldn’t be more right. Don’t let the what ifs prevent you from opening up to new ideas and processes and experimentations. I encourage you to take some raw ingredients and play with them. Mix them up. Try unexpected combinations. That’s how delicious new dishes are born. You can cook by intuition too, if you let yourself learn to by trial and error.
There is no harm in seeing what other people do with something and then forging your own method. Try it!
As for the pasta above, it was pretty simple. So simple, in fact, I am just going to give you an approximation of how i made it: I chopped up about a cup of fresh arugula and two plum tomatoes and mixed it with some gorgonzola cheese, lemon olive oil, salt and pepper.
It was quick, easy and (most of all) tasty. Paige couldn’t get enough of it.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.