Cooking Off the Cuff

Have you ever had one of those days when you find yourself groping for inspiration?  That was my whole weekend.  As much as I love to cook, sometimes the muse is silent, leaving me to decide for myself what I should put together not just as a plate, but more importantly as a means of self-expression.  Yesterday I was feeling a bit Cuban — I’m allowed to cook that stuff now that the embargo is lifted — so I made some classic dishes:  ropa vieja and Cuban black beans.  They were delicious and I enjoyed sharing them with my nearest and dearest peeps, but those are old hat recipes that didn’t send a thrill up my leg in that Chris Matthews fashion.

I started the day thinking that I must, yes must, come up with something better today, something worthy of a blog post.  I spent some time reading “Culinary Artistry” and was feeling scallops — big old honkin’ diver scallops, pan seared with simple seasonings and a shot of fresh citrus.  Throw in some horseradish and chive potato fritters, and some asparagus with Mornay sauce.  Yeah, I thought, that would be a plate worth sharing.

But it wasn’t meant to be.  I couldn’t find any decent scallops, so I had to come up with Plan B, which turned out to be broiled salmon.  And those green beans looked a damned sight better in the produce section than the asparagus.  So two of my three dishes were a no-go.  Thankfully the potato fritters hung in there to save the day, and Mornay works with just about any green veg.  So here is what I came up with on the fly, no recipes, no inspiration, just cooking for the sake of cooking — because you just have to do that sometimes.  The thought of throwing in the towel and paying someone else to cook for me was, well, unthinkable.  At the end of it all, it was simple and yummy — an expression of what makes me tick and of my desire to give of myself to my Laura.  Those are good reasons to be in the kitchen even if that bitch of a muse is giving me the cold shoulder.

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It also goes to show that even an amateur can manage just fine without recipes once a few culinary fundamentals are tucked away in one’s fertile noggin — my chef instructors will be glad to know their time wasn’t completely wasted on me.  Anyway, we munched it down with a big happy grin on our face.  Hopefully I’ll be feeling more inspired next time.  Until then:  Eat well, my friends!

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2 thoughts on “Cooking Off the Cuff

  1. Thanks, I have really been enjoying the way it helps open up the endless range of culinary possibilities. I plan to use it to help develop some original dishes. Recipes have their place, but my goal is to learn how to move beyond them.

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