I have lived on my own since I was 18, so naturally I can cook, sort of. My girlfriend of the summer before last introduced me to wonderful world of eggs, until then I thought I didn’t like eggs. My roommate throughout my college years taught me how to whip together great tasting meals in under 10 minutes, mostly consisting of a pasta, rice or quinoa base with tofu, chicken, steak or some other protein – tossed with some mighty fine sauce, like the San-J Peanut sauce.
Then one year I decided to self inherit my fathers cast iron wok and I was able to whip together some great looking and tasting stir fry’s. After that I figured out the art of overnight marinades, but until recently I never really appreciated the amazing art of cooking and the joy of cooking for others.
The girl (who I am sure is reading this) who was my most recent girlfriend, who is still one of BFF’s was an amazing chef who taught me some pretty cool stuff. First of all, she loved to cook for me and others, she also loved simplicity, some greens cooked with lemon and salt – who woulda thunk it? Only recently have I learned some more advanced knife skills (you would be shocked at the knife skills that could be learned) and have begun to get into real food. Local food, great produce and the awesomeness of experimentation.
But don’t let my fascination with the art and joy of cooking fool you, I am nothing special, my food is simple and until this past Friday night, I had never cooked a shabbos meal for anyone. My friend’s asked me to feed them and my mind went into the “oh shit, my friends are kind of foodies, what the hell am I supposed to do?” Good thing they keep a vegetarian home, because I find cooking meat to be much less exciting the vveggie centric meals, call me a hippie, but I love the colors that produce gives off.
I hopped over to Whole Foods in San Mateo on the way up to my friends in San Francisco, with some ideas in mind and spent about 20 minutes debating if I wanted to make some kale and collards or some sort of bok choy – as my veg dish. Then I spent another bunch of time debating what type of rice I wanted, jasmine, basmati or long grain brown rice. It was all a glorious debate, whole foods is a glorious place filled with amazing stuff – of course – I then went to Trader Joes and although the quality is much lower, realized I should have held out on basic items like garlic and lemons.
So, nu what did you make?
I seasoned some salmon with shallots, lemon zest, whole lemon slices, sprigs of fresh thyme, kosher salt and ground pepper – I threw in some thinly sliced yellow pepper as well. Then I sauteed some garlic and ginger in toasted sesame oil and then tossed in some snap peas, red and yellow peppers and musrooms. Then I threw in some sliced bok choy at the end because it cooks down quicker. I had decided on Jasmine rice and had really wanted to blanch some ginger and shred it in there with some chunks of mango, but my friend ended up with the idea of lime zest (I am addicted to citrus zest in you can’t tell) and mango slices.For the salad course, I went a little out of whack with the general Cal-Asian Fusion of the meal and fried up some small diced musrooms, yellow onions, garlic, fresh basil and sundried tomato tofurkey – which we then ate with fresh homemade pita garlic oil, fresh basil and fresh red vine tomatoes.
It felt really good to make something for someone else, especially because they have fed me numerous times and I come to stay by their house quite often. It felt good to make food that looked especially pleasing and actually tasted good. They told me I should have invited some people over, so next time I do this, I am wondering if any of my random SF friends would want to hop on over to The Sunset for a shabbos meal.
Next time I am going to do Italian…