The art of optimum cooking

As I prepared to write this, the words ‘the most god-awful meal I’ve ever cooked’ came to mind. But I’m eating as I type, and it’s getting better all the time. And to become the most god-awful, there’re a number of key contenders to overcome. My beetroot soup comes to mind. The day after being invited to a friend for beetroot soup, and, with trepidation, eating it, only to find it was fantastic, I decided to try make some at home. After my efforts, I can only say beetroot should come with a warning label.

Nevertheless, seeing as I am alone tonight, I thought it would be a good time for an experiment (perhaps rather and adventure). So, paging through Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Cookbook, I came across ‘Grilled Carrot and Tofu Cakes, with red pepper and fennel’. Not letting the fact that I had no tofu, nor any red pepper stop me, I began to prepare for my epicurean feast. Happily replacing the breadcrumbs, soy sauce, sesame seeds and parsley with sesame oil, potato flour, wheat flour, and two strange things from my veggie box I couldn’t identify, that left me with carrots, almonds, onions, garlic, pepper and fennel from the actual recipe, about a 50% hit rate.

That didn’t deter me, I’m a firm believer that recipes are merely an inspiration (mainly because I have never had all the ingredients required to follow any recipe I’ve ever seen in my cookbook collection). The idea was to make ‘cakes’, using the soy sauce to bind the ingredients. Sesame oil is rather strong, so I only added a drop, then topped it up with milk instead. Unfortunately I was a bit generous with the milk, so the supposed clay texture rather resembled a primordial ooze. More potato flour perhaps? No luck. So instead of making cakes and grilling on foil, I simply grilled the mixture in the bowl instead. Once again my cooking karma was on strike, as the surface was too close to the required ‘hot grill’, and began to blacken. I took the mixture out, but beneath the surface still looked raw. However, the potato flour had lived up to its reputation as a good binder, and everything was at least solid. I decided to risk it.

My first bite made me think of whether the pickings of starving people taking food from dustbins could taste as bad. But as I said, the meal got better with time (perhaps my tastebuds, knowing my stubbornness having lived through beetroot soup, and other atrocities such as absinthe tea, had simply shut down).

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go and wash my mouth out with something, anything, I can find in the fridge.

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