Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: How I Really Cook

It's probably pretty clear to anyone who reads this blog that I am not a professional chef, nor even a particularly good one. I don't make up fantastic, creative and beautiful recipes from my own head, nor do I even exercise more than the most basic cooking skills usually. Sometimes I take on a project and when I do I need a recipe.

So how DO I plan and make my meals on a daily basis? Well, I'm pretty embarrassed to let you peek behind the scenes on this process, but I feel I owe it to anyone who bothers to read this to be completely honest, and also to let you get to know me a little so that you can decide whether or not the time is right to never read this blog, since I clearly do not know what I am talking about.

So how do I cook, when I have to fend for myself? Well, my number one trick is to make it LOOK nice, so that even if it's not good, I can pretend to the world at large that what I am eating is incredibly AWESOME. It's not always possible, but it's what I go for. So this pizza pictured here is a typical dish that I might make when forced to prepare a meal for myself without a recipe.

To make this particular pizza, the first thing I did was decide what to make. To decide what to make, I just walked into the kitchen and looked around. There, on the counter, were some fresh pita breads that J. had purchased from the Farmer's Market. Surely he won't mind if I have one. (TIP: Always ask before taking the food of someone you live with. People don't like it when you just take their food - especially if it's the last one.)

Now I have to decide what to do with it. The easiest thing to do with any type of bread, after making a sandwich or toast is to make a pizza out of it. All you have to do is put stuff on top and then bake it. The stuff should involve cheese. So there we go, a pizza is what I would make.

In order to make a pizza, I need ingredients and the best place to look for those is the refrigerator. The most important thing you need for a pizza is cheese, and luckily I had the exact right kind of cheese in the cheese drawer - mozzarella. This was incredibly lucky. Most of the time I have NONE of the appropriate ingredients. To have an important one almost guarantees success.

Next I needed a sauce. Here is where things got tricky. I do not eat tomato sauce, except on pizzas, so I did not have any. Normally I count on my husband for this sort of thing, but he seemed to be in between tomato sauces. I looked for any sort of Italian sauce and came up blank, so I was forced to use the closest thing I could discover, which was salsa.

Finally, I needed toppings. Toppings are not strictly necessary, but they are good for adding variety and health to your diet, which I view as a plus. In the vegetable drawer, there was a cauliflower from the Farmer's Market, so I chopped that up into small florets and sprinkled it over the salsa for vitamins. Then I added the cheese. When I was looking for a sauce I had found a jar of kalamata olives and I decided to add some for looks and flavor.

Then I cooked my pizza in the toaster oven until the cheese was brown and bubbling, and ate it. That's it! That is all there is to cooking, believe it or not. Was it delicious? Well ... yes. Although I did NOT discover that salsa makes a fantastic new pizza sauce, and it will never be my first, or even fifth choice of pizza sauce, but really it's hard to go wrong with fresh pita bread, lots of cheese, and kalamata olives.

See how easy it is to cook? Anyone can do it, even me. If you have been reading this blog and thinking that cooking looks very difficult, well now you know the truth. It is not. It CAN be, if you want to get fancy. But it can also be so simple that you would not believe it.

So next time you run out of Trader Joe's Indian meals and frozen taquitos, consider checking in your refrigerator to see what else is there. First determine whether it is still safe to eat (TIP: This step is VERY important.) Then look at all of the things that pass that test (throw out the things that don't, unless they are part of an experiment) and think about things you could make with them. Then try making it! Perhaps you will surprise yourself!


Tomato sauces!

they are so easy to make - a can of fire roasted tomatoes and a sauce pan. Throw in some spices and hit it with an immersion blender.

If you have time -- plum tomatoes halved, olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Place cut side up, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with herbs, and roast for 10 to 20 minutes. Then attack it on a cutting board. Insta sauce.

I find no excuse for eating canned sauce!

Now I'm gonna have to do a blog post about quick sauces....

and yes - always ask before you take something that belongs to your spouse. Even if it's been in the fridge for 10 days, and stayed untouched.

said by sketchy at 6:35 AM Delete

Nice sauce plans! Unfortunately, as someone who is in general averse to tomatoes, it's rare that I'm going to have tomatoes or tomato products around.

Believe me when I say I considered all my options - the salsa was really the only choice that day.

Nonetheless I will come read your post about sauces and perhaps next time I will be prepared!

said by KT at 9:16 AM Delete

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