Thursday, March 29, 2012
If Yan Can Cook...
So Can You. One of my all time favorite cooking shows. For those of you who aren't familiar with my friend Yan, let me fill you in.
Growing up my parents opted for us to not own a television for the better part of my childhood. And by that I mean, our set went out and they just didn't buy another one until I was in 7th grade. (Yes, I know, it is a miracle that I can function in society.) However, that year Nintendo was wildly popular and I was in Middle School so it was time to give in. I think my parents realized the whole not having television in our house thing was starting to backfire a bit because my brothers were increasingly becoming mesmerized by television any time they had a chance to watch a show. It was like time stopped. They totally disengaged from their surroundings and were in a trance. So for Christmas we each got a TV. Which meant, I got my own and they had to share. Life is so unfair. Anyway, they didn't care much because they also got a Nintendo and that seemed to justify the sharing. I was at the age where Saturday morning cartoons had lost the ability to hold my interest, and in fact I am pretty sure I never woke early enough to catch them anyway. Most Saturdays were lazy, catch-up type days around our house. Enter public television. Yes, at age 12 I was watching KERA religiously. I loved the cooking shows. Julia Child with her, "Bon Appetite", Martin Yan and "If Yan Can Cook, So Can You" and Justin Wilson's, "How ya'll are?" all became engraved in my memories from this time in my life. I still love a day of nothing but cooking shows or cookbook reading. I don't even try to explain it, it just is what it is.
So one of the things I loved about Yan was he really made me think "I could too". His crazy good knife skills were a little scary to me (perhaps that was because there had been one too many knife injuries in our household requiring an ER visit) but getting into the kitchen, opening a cookbook and thinking I could make anything in it seemed to boost my cooking interest and confidence; if for no other reason than me just thinking that I could. I don't remember my mom teaching me how to cook per say but she always gave me permission to "play" in the kitchen. As a matter of fact, I remember a day she came home and said, "You made that? I don't even make that." She was pointing to a 3-layer cake covered in seafoam frosting. That's the kind of frosting made by beating egg whites then cooking them by slowly pouring boiling syrup into the whites while you continue to beat them into a foamy, sticky cloud. I can't imagine the panic she must have felt knowing what disaster/injury could have been found instead of the beautifully frosted cake before her. But she hid her panic and just went on and on about the cake. No one told me that seafoam frosting was difficult to make. It just looked really pretty and impressive. I guess I was right.
My point to all of this is, You Can Cook. Pick up a cookbook and find something you never would even consider trying to make and then set out to overcome your cooking fears. Turn on Food Network and soak in some tricks used by famous chefs to navigate the kitchen then try them out for yourself.
(I personally wouldn't start with knife skills but to each his own.) It might take a little practice and a little time to become comfortable in the kitchen but that's ok. And sure you may scrape off some burned parts, add some salt after the fact or simply utter the words, "I won't try that again". But I have faith in you. You can cook. And who knows, you may even start to like it.
So today I am sharing a recipe that my aunt shared with me. It is for a soup that will make you feel a little
chef-like having served it. There is just something rewarding about totally deconstructing a raw food and then making something wonderfully yummy from it that makes you want to pat yourself on the back. And this soup is sure to earn you such reward. It would be a perfect first course for upcoming Passover/Easter/Spring meals. I hope you give it a try and take some time to enjoy making it. And remember, "If Yan Can Cook, So Can You."
Moroccan Carrot Soup
2 tbs butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 pound raw carrots, diced/chopped 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbs honey
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion;saute 2 minutes. Mix in carrots. Add broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes
Remove soup from heat. Puree in batches in blender until smooth. Return to same pan. Whisk in honey, lemon juice and spices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Place a dollop of yogurt in the center of bowl and serve.
*Remember organic ingredients are best
** If you are short on time or hate chopping, buy frozen chopped onion and pre-sliced carrot chips to speed up the prep time.