A Pair Of Gourmands

by - Story: 11089

Stay the course…

She says,

When I cook, I like to make sure that I find a theme and stick to it. I am definitely not the professional chef in the family, but I have this as my credo whenever I am in the kitchen. I like to think it comes from my respect for different cultures and an interest in the soul of those cultures. Rarely, it seems, does a memory of a different place not involve a memory of a meal.

Whether you are trying to recreate a memory from a trip or you are experimenting with a new recipe, having a theme will keep you on track for a meal or a party. You can start as simple as the herbs and spices you use, and work up to what kind of meat or fish, what style of dessert, and even how to decorate the table when you serve!

In the summer I am inspired by the heat, and I look to those cultures that thrive in the heat. We eat Mediterranean foods with refreshing lemon and oregano and mint, or southern French style grilled meats and salads with olives and tomatoes, or Mexican salsas with grilled fish… In the winter we move more to comfort foods like Irish Guinness stew or pastas with richer sauces.

Here is my list of favourite things to use from the cultures I enjoy:

Lebanese: chick peas in salads with chopped veggies, parsley added to lettuce or couscous salad, nuts and honey in phyllo – try to find some Arabic music
Moroccan: cinnamon with tomato sauce or allspice added to meat rubs, cardomom with pastry – decorate the table with brilliant colours and brass candlesticks
French: tarragon and Dijon mustard in sauces (separately or together), thyme on grilled meats or with eggs, custard desserts with fruit, chocolate mousse with whipped cream! Use a tablecloth with olives or a fleur de lis pattern, and play some French bistro music
Italian: oregano with tomatoes, basil with tomatoes, good quality olive oil with just about anything! Try thinking of Tuscan countryside (easy to do here)

Whatever sort of theme strikes your fancy, try a few more elements next time to really make the mood. And if you are thinking of what to do as you cook, fix on an idea and carry that through, so that you can enjoy the full effect of the experience. Let yourself be carried by the moment – something at the market of from your garden may inspire you, or perhaps even a napkin design or a postcard image! Go forth and create memories!

He says,

I love to cook, and to me planning is the most important step in a successful meal. Theme meal make the planning much easier to do, less thinking, and more eating, just the way I like it.

Chef Martin’s Tip 22 - Pasta, Pasta and Pasta!

For as long as I can remember on my birthday, every year I eat a huge plate of spaghetti, and I love it!

Keep a good selection of pasta in your cupboards, and you can always “go pasta” when all else fails… Your local Italian market will have many different kinds of pasta - try them all!

Many leftovers can be turned into a pasta dish the next day. Cold or hot, you can add just about anything to pasta and voilà, a gourmet meal.

Learn to keep your pasta “Al Dente” which is an Italian expression meaning not overcooked, cooked just right Another trick is when cooking pasta, don’t put oil in the water if you want your sauces to stick to your pasta.

Over the years, I have found that less is more when it comes down to pasta dishes. If you limit your creations to 5 or 6 ingredients or garnishes, it will allow you to be able to taste all of them. One of my favorites is basil, roasted pine nuts, fresh garlic, anchovies, and tomato sauce topped up with fresh Parmagiano.

“No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.”
(Julia Child, 1912-2004)

B>The Chef in Stead - Website For Previous Chef Tips For comments or questions, you can reach Martin at 250-712-4440 or Email.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories