It occurred to me the other day that I had never told you why I don’t use mayo in my sandwiches. Indeed, if you look through my sandwich and panini recipes you’ll find none with mayo, and plenty with sour cream, cottage cheese or mustard. I know mayo is a very popular sandwich ingredient, and for good reason: you need a good creamy component to “bind” everything together and to turn the sandwich into a coherent whole. Still, we find mayo way too heavy and not particularly flavorful, and this is why I’ve been using other ingredients in its place. We’ve always been big fans of sour cream and cottage cheese (both of them lighter than mayo, in our opinion), so why not use these in panini or sandwiches? Moreover, on some occasions, I turn to other less used ingredients and I take advantage of their luscious creaminess to create a satisfying light lunch. Such is the case with the sandwich I am going to write about today, whose creamy component is a fried egg.
I woke up this morning and remembered something: today is the National Day of France, which is also called Bastille Day. This day is always celebrated in my home country. Our culture is closely related to the French culture – so close that we are members of the International Organization of the Francophonie. I am really glad I remembered about Bastille Day. Better mark the occasion later in the day than not mark it at all!
To write about food is to write about memories – and this is certainly true in my case, when it comes to writing about tomatoes. To me, they remind me of the many gorgeous summers I spent in the countryside while I was growing up. My aunt and uncle owned a small house about 20 miles away from the city, and they loved having me and my niece Anne Marie over when school was out for the summer.
Those were the days I never got tired because the world and its wonders kept me in awe, and my uncle’s garden was something to behold. We used to play hide-and-seek in that garden, tirelessly running around the cherry trees, digging deep and hoping to discover allegedly long-lost treasures at the root of the old fir tree, or happily hunting down Colorado beetles in the mild sunset light. We would always play and eat in that garden – who could have resisted freshly picked raspberries, apricots, apples and, of course, tomatoes? Indeed, no day would pass without me eating a tomato from my uncle’s garden. Firm, slightly sweet and deliciously thirst-quenching, my uncle’s heirloom tomatoes would give me that much-needed energy boost to go on with my playing.
Who has the time to plan in advance and to create elaborate menus? Not me, that’s for sure. The 4th of July weekend is coming up, and I have yet to do any menu planning and to buy any ingredients. Having an infant around has made things harder and less organized for me on the kitchen front. Nowadays, it’s all about the baby – and so it should be. 🙂
I know I won’t get the chance to prepare as many dishes as I did last year. I will most likely focus on burgers and I will make a few of my family’s favorites.
We are a household of carnivores, but our meat preferences are very different. Chicken is my favorite meat to cook and to eat: light, versatile and affordable, it makes up the central element in a variety of dishes I love. Whenever I think of chicken I think of mom’s chicken recipes, and I get all excited and happy. To me, mom knows best and is the best cook 🙂
Meanwhile, my husband is a diehard fan of red meat, who always chooses steak over breaded chicken. I wanted to cook something I knew he would enjoy, so I made roast beef to celebrate his first Father’s Day ever. This is one of my mom’s recipes – this is the way she usually cooks beef, pork and even mutton. I followed her recipe, but also changed it a little by adding mixed peppercorns and oregano.
It took me awhile to come up with a Memorial Day menu. Nowadays, my mind tends to wander off aimlessly more often than not, and I have found that sleep deprivation affects my creativity. With summer just around the corner however, and with the local stores brimming with new crop fresh produce, I had extra incentives to work on this menu, and as I developed it I felt inspired and energized. I also experienced a great satisfaction seeing my family enjoy these dishes, which I intend to make again this coming weekend.
I have always wanted to know more about spices and the art of combining them to create the perfect flavors. When we lived in England I used to love the cooking shows which featured Chef Atul Kochhar. A twice Michelin starred chef renowned for his modern take on Indian cuisine, he is also what I would call “a spice genius.” Every time I watched Atul’s shows I was amazed with his artistry. To Atul, nothing was random: every ingredient had a reason to be there, and every added spice was discussed in a way which made perfect sense to the uninitiated, such as myself.