Monday, January 21, 2008

My first blog

Dear fellow chefs,

Sometimes cooking is like writing. You put something out there in the public, for others to view or taste, and you are then judged by the quality and skill of your writing or cooking. Some people are untruthfully nice, some people are honest, some people just want a free meal. I think I am an above average chef, people have told me that, but I have no idea if I can write. Let's find out. And should you decide to comment, be honest. I can take it.

I learned how to cook from my mother who went to culinary school in Rome, Italy, as well as my father. My mother is the best chef I know. I have never had a bad meal from her in 30 years (except that Lobster Bisque still scares our whole family). The second best chef I know is my dad and the third is my brother. Throughout my life, my friends would always want to come over for dinner. I did not realize until later that I was used to eating gourmet meals every night and they were used to only an occasional good meal or just pizza and takeout. I enjoyed meals with tastes and flavors from all over the world. My mother is Swedish, my dad is Dutch (hence the Swutch Chef...half Swedish, half Dutch), I was born in Rome, Italy and lived in Madrid, Spain. If you are a food lover, those are some amazing places to experience good food and drink and also all very different. Anyway, enough about that, let's talk about what I cooked last night.

Some people are scared to cook fish. I know I was. I'm not anymore because it is 1) really easy 2) really healthy and 3) usually pretty cheap. On a difficulty level, this is about a 2 out of 5 (5 being making a mousse out of beef and 1 being a microwave dinner).

Last night's menu: Crostini with tomato, basil, garlic, olive oil, cheese and Anchovies. Tilapia fillet with a green sauce over a bed of Swedish fried rice.

So here's how you do the Crostini:
  • Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Take a loaf of French bread and cut thing slices, about 1/4 of an inch.
  • Line a baking sheet with tin foil (easier to clean up later).
  • Cut up garlic, tomatoes (I love cherry tomatoes), basil into small pieces so it can easily stay on the bread.
  • Put the above mixture on the bread, season with pepper and top of with a small anchovy fillet (anchovy is really salty, but amazing).
  • I also sprinkled mozzarella cheese on top. The cheese and anchovies are optional.
  • Put it in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the bread is crusty and the cheese is melted.
Swedish fried rice (quite cheap! All you need is a box of rice, bacon and baby lima beans):
  • Take a wok and cook cut up strips of bacon. Cook on medium heat. Once the bacon is cooked (I like it crispy), take the bacon out and leave the grease in the wok. If you want to be silly and lose flavor, you can pour the grease out.
  • In a separate pot, cook the brown rice (I almost always cook rice in chicken stock in stead of water)
  • Once the rice is done, put it in the wok, add frozen lima beans for about 5-7 minutes and when the lima beans are warm, add back the bacon and then serve.
  • By the way, if you are a vegetarian, just don't use the bacon and use vegetable stock. It will still taste great. You can also use peas in stead of lima beans, or even small pieces of broccoli.
The fish (I used tilapia, it's not too fishy, it's cheap and it's easy to cook):
  • Line the baking sheet with tin foil again and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add a thin layer of olive oil or butter to the tin foil so it doesn't stick.
  • Place the fillets on the foil. Thinly slice a lemon, put the lemon slices with a bit of butter on the fish.
  • Season with salt and pepper (I actually seasoned it with a mixture of Old Bay, Cayenne Pepper, McCormick's Season All, and pepper flakes, but that's only if you like a nice little kick in the tongue from time to time)
  • Cook for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet
I highly recommend drinking champagne with this menu. But don't drink too much or you'll forget to use oven mits to take out the crostini's and burn your hand like I did. I believe I cursed.

The green sauce:
  • Add garlic, olive oil, cilantro, a jalapeƱo pepper (keep the seeds in if you enjoy punishing yourself), that seasoning I mentioned for the fish or just salt and pepper and blend in a food processor. Also the juice of half a lemon.
Everything I do is based on the way my mother cooks. Sure, we follow recipes, but most of it is just throwing stuff in a pan, tasting it, throwing more stuff in the pan, tasting it again. Just work off of a base of knowledge (aka: a recipe) It's really not rocket science. Just do it. In the beginning, you'll mess up and probably make a few people puke, but that's okay. I've made friends puke, have other bathroom problems, I've lit the carpet in my kitchen on fire by melting a cheap pot, I've lit my kitchen on fire more times that I can remember, I've sliced my fingers and burned my hands. And I am the definition of an amateur chef. I cook because it's fun, I can usually do it better and cheaper than restaurants, I can be creative and scientific at the same time and I usually have a few adult beverages while creating my delicacies. If you like being creative, saving some money, entertaining and impressing friends, having fun, then learn to cook. If you're lazy, than don't. If you are too busy, you are full of yourself because nobody is too busy to eat.

Oh, and guys, being able to cook will help you in your love life (I had previously written that statement a different way, but my mom will probably read this). And girls, the fastest way to a mans heart is through his stomach (again, that's not really true, but this is a food blog, so let's just pretend.)

I would love it if you would post a comment after reading this blog. Even if it says, "This meal is offensive and cruel to the innocent tilapia fish population."

Thanks and until next time,

The Swutch Chef


gingermom said...

Okay. Your first blog post. My first comment. I'm going to make this meal for my family this weekend. Been trying to find easy, healthy and tasty things for my family. Something besides cheerios.

Keep blogging.

Anonymous said...

Great writing. I don't know where you learned to write, but you are an excellent chef thanks to me :)


Mom (the original teacher)

hitch said...

Nice blog Hendriks. Loved the recipe, but mostly loved the humor. You write like you talk . . . love it!!

genie said...

You are going to share some amazing ideas with others. If they could only taste it!! You keep it entertaining as you share your recipes. I can't wait to read more! :)