«Oh, I adore to cook. It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.» – Truman Capote
Copyright: Michael M. Maurantonio
chapter 1: be prepared
Rule #1: what goes together grows together.
Rule #2: spice up your food and life.
Rule #3: fresh is better.
Rule #4: a hot cook never cooks too hot.
Rule #5: be passionate.
Rule #6: make mistakes and remember them.
Rule #7: always tickle your taste buds.
Rule #8: start with what you know and end up adding things you taste for the 1st time (remember rule #1)
Rule #9: a pinch of salt for sweets, a pinch of sugar for salty bits
Rule #10: cooking is basic biology, physics and chemistry with a lot of philosophy
Rule #11: have the right instruments for creating your masterpiece
Rule #12: clean up your mess. Always!
chapter 2: everyone can read Shakespeare, but not every one is made for the real stage; sweat & talent.
You can now start by thinking what to cook. Well, open your fridge….zzzzzzz. Take your time selecting good food. If you do not have a market near you, food stores are fine as well. Make sure to be aware what you’ll eat, i.e. read the text on the package. Less is in this case more. Check this out.
Sugar: your brain needs appy. 60g of glucose per day. If your body needs more, it’s because you are working hard, running wild or else. The more sugar you eat the more your body will store it in…your belly and hips and the more it will tell you to eat (the easiest way for your brain to get the needed energy). In the U.S. the number of people suffering from adiposes has grown remarkably after the „invention“ of diet soft drinks. So before you start banning sugar try to change your eating habit. Then re-think why you are starving every time you eat sweets. Sugar (in this case glucose) is known to be the energy supplier for cancer cells. So the less you eat, the better. Less energy? No at all. It’s called Ketogenesis.
Fat/oil: essential vitamins are only soluble in oil/fat (Vit A f.e.). So your body needs fat and essential oils. If you read „vegetable oil“ never thinks of olive oil. Most of the time the industry adds the much cheaper palm oil.
Again, less is more. Even if native olive oil is a bit expensive, you won’t need much for cooking and you will be delighted about its taste. Other good oils (always from biological agriculture): cocoa, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed. Some are best for cold dishes, rather than for the hot cuisine. Good oils/fats are also contained in sea fish, nuts, and seeds. So do not ban it but use it with care and pride and rather be more careful with the carbs on your dish.
Proteins: some studies have shown that a high protein diet can help to lower your body weight (especially the fatty mass and not only water). Proteins are essential for your body (and not only for body builders). If you think proteins are only coming from animals try a good plate of lentils with curcuma, balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar.
Additional: salt. Oh my, salt. As always, less is more. So, read the text on the packages of what you buy. A fresh courgette does not need any text by the way.
Therefore I love rule #8. If I do not understand what the E numbers are, why should I buy it? Right! Rule #3 and #2! TAKE YOUR TIME FOR READING AND COOKING!
chapter 3: the essentials…instruments
I can’t remember if Sweden is well known of the fantastic cuisine, but they have this store with 4 letters.
Basics do not have to be expensive. Especially if some of them have been tested and said to have a great price/performance ratio. What you always need are
- a good set of knives. Add to this set a knife you’ll love and use it 4ever, such as this one or my favourite is the HATTORI
- pans and pottery. If you do not like to be squeezed into a room then why do the same for your food? 100g of pasta f.e. should be cooked in 1L of boiling and salted water. Teflon, aluminum, steel? I use either Teflon or steel pans and pottery. It’s a question of taste.
- any helpful thing such as whisks, peeler etc. or things that help you in measuring your ingredients.
chapter 4: garlic & co
Ever wondered how this Italian, Chinese or Mexican chef could cook the meal you tried to cook as well but never tasted the same? It’s called „essential spices, herbs and friends“.
Try to have a stock of dried or fresh „helpers“ for your cooking:
- Garlic. If you do not like it, then ask yourself if you like blood and sleeping in a coffin instead! :-[
- Onions. Different kind of onions for different dishes. Onion powder (non-salted) can help as well.
- Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Parsley (Neapolitan, not the crisp one!), Chive, Dill, Bay leaf
- Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Coriander seeds, Cardamom, Chilli, Lemon Grass
I never ever use mono sodium glutamate (enhancer ) or as in some products yeast powder (hidden enhancer) f.e. in chicken stocks, soy sauce…as I said in chapter 2: READ BEFORE YOU BUY WHAT YOU WANT TO EAT!
PS: I always have in my kitchen:
- Native olive oil from my hometown in Italy
- Balsamic vinegar
- White vinegar
- Sunflower seed oil
- Sesame oil
- Coconut oil
- Sea salt