Saturday, November 13, 2010

Recycling recipes

I read somewhere recently that the typical family uses just about 10 different recipes; when I look at the label cloud I see that, indeed, there are 11 recipes here tagged "family favorites." It would be interesting to take, say, 50 families and see how many common recipes they have among themselves-- you could instantly grow your repertoire by just making someone else's family favorite.

It sounds a little depressing, to know that you're repeating a meal every ten days. But are you really? Or are you taking basic concepts and adapting, changing, reinventing?

There are some basic concepts, starting with meat or vegetarian. Subdivide those into different types of meat and vegetables. Further divide that by cooking method. Start changing up the additional ingredients. Pretty soon you've got not 10 basic recipes, but a hundred.

When you cook seasonally, this activity completes itself. I can't cook with fresh peas or string beans right now, because there aren't any, so I'm using swiss chard and brussels sprouts as the green in all my dishes. What I was making with eggplant in July I am now making with squash. It's a little scary the first time you look in the fridge to pull out something for, say, biryani, and discover that it isn't there. So you take a deep breath and substitute.

Now, the good news is, you've been eating for years and probably have a decent sense of what substitutions you can make. The other good news is, if it doesn't work there's always carry out.

Here's Monday's adapted soup:

Squash soup with caramelized radishes

3 T butter, melted in a pan
4 cloves of garlic, slightly crushed
20 medium radishes, halved

Melt the butter, turn the heat down to low and add the vegetables. Brown them over a very low flame until soft and browned, about 20 minutes. Add to the soup just before serving. Here's a couple of squash soup recipes:

Butternut-cider soup
Roasted autumn-veggie soup

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