There was an op ed piece in the New York Times yesterday questioning the need to teach Algebra. This concurred with an earlier rant of my own. A wonderfully written piece (Theirs, not mine) and well worth the read.
It brings up an important question of what skills are necessary to navigate this treacherous world. And looking even closer, what skills are needed to navigate the equally important world of the kitchen. Many cookbooks assume that one knows the difference between mince and chop, slice or dice. I remember being flummoxed by zest. I came across a tool that supposedly zested a lemon, but all it did was create stings of lemon skin that then needed to be finely chopped. Nobody ever said, “take a fine or micro-grater and grate the damn thing.” It is neither hard nor hard to remember. These assumptions can grind a cook to a halt and turn an enjoyable experience into a frustrating turn off, kind of like algebra. In my book, Table For One, there are several 4 frame pictorials on subjects like zesting; how to clean a leek (They tend to be sandy) and how to clean and mince ginger. I think that we are all too embarrassed to admit that we don’t know what we judge as simple tasks. They are only simple once you know what they are.
I don’t know every technique in the kitchen, and I am always trying to learn more. If you come across something in one of my recipes or someone else’s, and you haven’t seen Bobby Flay do it, send me a note. If I can’t help I will find someone that can help us both.
I am working on a steak taco that I hope will knock your socks off, but I still have to feed the veggie son so here is a delicious one for those of us who don’t need meat at every meal.
- 10-12 Taco Shells
- 2 Red Peppers
- 1/2 Red Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Avocado, pitted and sliced
- Handful of Lettuce, chopped
- 1 Can Black Beans (vegetarian)
- Grated Cheese (whatever you like)
- 2-3 Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Sauce Pan
- Grill or Grill Pan
- Cookie Sheet or
- Non-Stick Pan
- Chef’s Knife
- Several Small Serving Bowls
- Thinly coat peppers with olive oil and roast on a grill, grill pan or over a gas flame until softened and charred.
- Let cool then peel off the skin and slice into slivers.
- Marinate with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Warm the black beans in a sauce pan. You may need a splash of water to thin them a bit. They also may need a little salt and pepper.
- Slice and cut all of the vegetables and place them in individual serving bowls.I use soup bowls.
- Warm the taco shells. We usually use uncooked tortillas which need to be warmed on both sides in a non-stick pan with no fat. Sometimes the kids like the crunchy, pre-made hard taco shells. They usually come in a pack of 10-12 and need to be heated on a cookie sheet in the oven for 7-8 minutes.
- If the cheese is not already grated, do it now.
- Serve all of the fixings in the center of the table and distribute the taco shells. Better have extra of everything. Make sure that you also include knife and fork and plenty of napkins. This is a messy business.