Spice it Up

I never thought I was the type of person who would ever say things like, “Which do you think is better for stove-top braising, Le Creuset or Staub?” or “Honey, are you going to be home in time for dinner?” Frankly, before this past year, I thought pouring a jar of cold Classico sauce over pasta made a meal. Ick. I’ve always appreciated quality cuisine and my parents are excellent examples of great cooks who experience life through tastes, but I just contented myself with their cooking and ignored all of their attempts at teaching me how to put together real meals.

Moving here, I noticed how many great gourmet and specialty food stores were available to me in every direction. I noticed my diet changing and an interest in fresh, natural food developing (especially when Trader Joe’s makes it so affordable!). And then, Rob moved in and well, it felt so nice to be able to eat with someone. I’ll admit, that was the biggest factor in my shift to cooking; eating alone isn’t fun and not to mention harder, since you’ll always have either too little leftover for a full meal the next night or too much and it’ll go bad. Putting in the time and effort to sit down and share the enjoyment and achievement with someone is one of the most gratifying parts of cooking for me and I’m excited to try out some more great meals.

This week, I bought some fresh cilantro at TJ’s and decided to make my favorite coconut curry sauce, but with tilapia instead of the usual chicken tenderloins. All it took was a can of coconut milk, about two spoonfuls of red curry paste, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a pinch of turmeric, garlic and onions, and some freshly chopped cilantro and I had a savory dish! Served up with some jasmine rice with some more cilantro, it was such a colorful, flavorful entree. I will never again underestimate the power of fresh herbs– it makes all the difference. Here’s a similar recipe for those of you want to try it at home. And last night, so that the rest of the herbs didn’t go to waste, I pan-seared a thin sandwich steak with olive oil, salt, lots of chopped garlic and onion, the juice of one lime and chopped cilantro for a little chimichurri action. I paired it with some more jasmine rice (a staple) and sweet corn on the cob. I even had a beer with dinner! And what could taste more like summer than juicy watermelon for dessert (I seriously wait all year for this!)?

…And, I am thrilled to introduce my new Emile Henry ceramic Dutch oven!!!! Thanks to my wonderful parents, who are now happy to share my love of cooking, they sent me this amazing piece of cookware via Sur la Table. I have been after one for a long time, and I can’t wait to get my slow cooking on!

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