What would I have cooked up if I was 12.

I’ve been seeing the advertisements of Junior Master Chef Australia in Star World and while I had an impression that it was just kids dishing out kiddie experiments, the final product of their dishes were not short of amazing.

Wow. These kids just know their stuff. And I’ve only seen the advertisements! I mean lamb wellingtons and nicely cooked fishes are just possibly part and parcel of what they’re capable of cooking. And they’re just half my age!

The show will start on January 16 at Star World and I was just thinking on what I possibly cook if I was 12.

At that time, the only thing that I was cooking was spaghetti and some lamb. I love lamb but I can’t say I’ve perfected lamb. At that time, my family would buy the “Buy 1 take 1” lamb chops from Rustan’s and I would cook it up either as a stew, ragout, or just beautifully seared. Of course, these pieces of lamb is pale in comparison to the lambs seen abroad. More so, our family is just in love with overcooked lamb. No moist, sweet, pinkish parts. I think I’m the only one who liked my lamb pinkish.

But I think at 12, I would have cooked up a wicked spaghetti. The spaghetti was the first thing I cooked on my own and I think, since I was 10, the spaghetti has always been assigned to me as my Christmas duty. Every year the tastes changes because I experiment with the flavors. I think at 12, they would have tasted a spaghetti with an asian flair of soy sauce. It ain’t much. It ain’t even spectacular. But I knew for a fact that at 12, it tasted awesome. At least my family loved it.

I’m excited to watch the start of Junior Master Chef Australia. I know it’s long gone finished, but I think the show might just help me think of what I would have done if I was 12.

That sounds like a series of posts there…

Pesto experiments!

My experiments with pesto started when an aunt from Italy came home and started to make her pesto. The first thing she asked my mom was to buy some fresh basil, which 15 years ago was completely unheard of in our islands apart from its dried counterpart. So she decided to create a different kind of pesto, pounding a large bunch of Italian parsley (kinchay) along with some garlic. There were no pine nuts easily available nor did we have Parmesan cheese back then. With piping hot pasta, she tossed her green mashed concoction and called it pesto. It was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.

For years, I really didn’t give myself a shot in making a batch of pesto like my aunt did. But a really expensive bottle of pesto compelled me to find a cheaper and probably better alternative to the ones bought from the groceries.

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Neanderthal cooking and food history

Cavemen diet

When I was in college, a professor of mine asked us a big question, “How did the cavemen learn how to cook?” It was a question that stumped ALL OF US in our class. Some answered the had to learn how to make fire first. But my teacher said that they weren’t that smart yet to consider fire as a tool. Sorry Cavemen, my teacher thought low of your cranial capacity. Your effort to make fire was pale in comparison to our invention of ice cream. ^^v

Then the rest of the class (myself included) added some sillier stuff. For example, in an arid desert, a twig caught fire because it was too hot and it went down the ground. Near the fire was their meat for the day. As they left their meat beside the burning twig they realized it looked different and decided to eat it and found it yummy. Again, he said they were dumber. We kept suggesting more and all involved fire and some strange tools that we thought helped these cavemen to create their first cooked meal.

When ideas became a lot crazier, my teacher just sighed and decided to give us a scenario of a hot arid day and stones baking in the sun. After a tiring day of hunting, they decided to drop their hunt on this hot slab of stone and heard it sizzle. The smell of grilled meat lured the cavemen. They investigated this charred meat and by force of habit, tasted it and found that it was tasty. Hence, man’s first cooked meal.

I’m sure the tale sounds silly, but that’s how the life of neanderthals go. This story came to mind when I crossed a really interesting feature in Culinate.com about a blogger looking into food history. Her story of researching old menus reminded me of this teacher and his class. Recently, I also heard he went to England to look into food history. It’s amazing to see a burgeoning fascination for food history. I can only imagine the methods employed in research. But that’s just the geek in me talking. If this interests you, you can also check our food timeline.

Cookbook love in Powerbooks!

The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles Big big luffles to Powerbooks!!

For the month of August, Powerbooks has opened their shelves and placed everything on sale. Yes! Everything! Even those pricey cookbooks! Last week, I decided to check it out and a lot of cookbooks were on sale! I oggled over the books that were below P1000. Books such as those by the River Cafe Chefs were being sold at prices I cannot even imagine! Yes, it’s a great time to go cookbook shopping in Powerbooks now and I cannot express how fun it is to buy cooking books there right now! I must add though that even the regular books have a 20% off, so yeah, that washoku book is definitely on my list now, that is if I didn’t buy some manga-related books before. (It was washoku or Osamu Tezuka!)

At first, I wanted to buy the River Cafe Easy series. It seems they’re not as popular locally because their show was never shown here, but back when I had pirated Food Network from South Africa, I had a chance to catch upon their show. They’re a two lady duo specializing in Italian dishes. Their dishes are simple marked with a dash creativity based on the season of ingredients available to them. Some have come and said that they are similar to Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, with an Italian twist. Anyway, the cookbook was great, showing you the ingredients and recipes that match!

However, as much as their book was enticing, rummaging through the booksale pile allowed me to find this book, The Complete Book of Pasta and Noodles. When my mom saw this book she immediately remarked “Ay! There’s no pictures!?”, but god if she only read through the content, it’s a gold mine. The book teaches you the fundamentals of pasta and noodle cooking. It tells you how to make that authentic carbonara (which is not the carbonara that most of us eat in restaurants) and the perfect pasta to match that carbonara. It will teach you how to make that balanced cream sauce without your cream curdling (an old problem of mine! ;_;)  and other pasta, and also noodle fundamentals that people should know. God, I knew that when I struck that book, I hit gold. For a person who was never formally trained in cooking, this was the perfect book for the noodle nut like me. I’m sure, for whatever you fancy, you will find a book perfect for you.  If not, I’ll share some tidbits that I learned in that book here as well! :3