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Food & Drink / The Gestalt of Cooking


Subject:  Re: What's cookin'? Date:  10/29/2003  10:06 AM
Author:  ejb152 Number:  11022 of 21260

As this is my new favorite board (thank you SB for leading me into the light), I went back a few weeks and started reading posts. I soon found out that I would be better served going to the beginning and eventually catching up with everyone.

To that end, I will answer the questions from post #2 so you can get to know me better:

What kind of cookware do you use? Do you have any hints, techniques, or suggestions for using it effectively?

In a perfect world, I'd have a reproduction of Julia Child's kitchen in my home, but in my world, my favorite cookware is as follows: one medium and one large Martha Stewart non-stick skillet with oven-proof handles = most used, in and out of the oven; one very old and well-seasoned 14-inch pizza pan = used so much it lives in my oven; my beloved Pampered Chef clayware = the pizza circle used so much it sits atop my stove; one very old enamel over cast iron dutch oven and one very old enamel over cast iron au gratin dish = two pieces passed down to me that are older than I am. My best suggestion for using any of these effectively is to clean them immediately after use and make sure they are well cared for and seasoned, taking special care with the cast iron bottom of the dutch oven.

What's your favorite spice? Your least favorite? Why?

There are so many, it's very hard to pick, but Cumin is up there as one of my favorites, along with Coriander, Saffron, Spanish Paprika, and Turmeric. Least favorite would probably be Anise; I just never got into Anise. I love and use the Goya products, many of which are available locally. I also order spices from a Texas company called Pendery's; their barbecue rubs are to die for.

What are your favorite type of things to cook?

I lean toward Meditteranean cooking with a Latin touch, Pork Roast, Arroz con Pollo, Paella, Black Beans and Yellow Rice, rice is a favorite staple of mine. I also love to cook Italian and am seeking the best ever recipe for Braciole. I make a mean lasagne. I really love to cook everything and anything; what's mentioned here is what I like to eat. Egg dishes would be considered one of my specialties, from scrambled eggs to a variety of quiches.

I've been told I make the best cheesecake around and even had a woman fly here from Washington D.C. to pick up two cakes for what she called a very special dinner party because she had a slice here in a local restaurant and loved it--I kid you not. She flew in, took a cab to my home, picked up her cakes and tipped me generously, and got back into the cab, back to the airport, and back to D.C., cakes in hand. The furthest one of my cakes has flown is to California, specially ordered by one of my restaurant customers for someone visiting from the sunny state who had to take a whole one home with him--the four slices he ordered and ate in the restaurant just weren't enough. I don't make these every day like I used to back in the 80s, but my friends and family will not allow me to completely retire from producing at least a few cheesecakes a year.

Do you specialize in any ethnic cuisines? What appeals to you about them?

Spanish and Italian. I order Spanish foods from:
and I pick up Olive Mix by the jar (great on sandwiches and pizza) from one of my favorite local Italian restaurants, .

How do you handle leftovers? Serve them again as-is? Disguise them so your S.O. won't recognize them?

I cook in anticipation of leftovers. I love leftovers. I love being creative with leftovers. Many foods taste better leftover. Why cook if there are to be no leftovers?? (No S.O. in sight.)

What do you see as the biggest challenge in your cooking?

Funds to build and equip my dream kitchen and purchase all the foods I'd like to try, along with finding a fellow food lover with which to share my passion, whether they like to cook or not. One of the great sadnesses in my life is having no one to cook for on a regular basis, other than myself, of course. I am a much better cook and a much happier person when I have someone to feed. In my world, food and love are practically synonymous.

Do you cook or bake, or both?

Considering I'm a former caterer and professional pastry chef, both. If I haven't tried it yet, I'd love to. (To those who are wondering why I'm still not pursuing my passion as a career: I was sidelined by an injury and can no longer handle the heavy lifting required of a working chef.)

Do you use recipes? Only as guides? Need absolute measurements (you probably won't like this board so well)? Just make it up as you go along?

I read cookbooks like novels and use them for inspiration, though I have been known to follow a completely new recipe to the letter the first time in order to see where they were going with it; after that, I'll make it my own. In 33 years of cooking, I've rarely made the same dish twice, and do often make it up as I go along. Pastries and cakes, on the other hand, are quite an exact science; it's best to stick to the formulas when the results are critical and experiment when they're not.

I'm looking forward to perusing the rest of this board and getting to know you guys better.

Hugs to my fellow Foodies,

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