As much as I adore cooking, I rarely stray from the traditional French or American way of doing things. The basics. I’ve got kneading, shredding, and whisking down pat. And my kitchen is stocked with the familiar items that you’d find in pretty much every home in the area. Eggs. Flour. Salt. Cheese. Milk. If it’s not in my kitchen, then that’s because I ran out, and I’m probably planning a run to my mom’s house to borrow a teaspoon or two. 😉
Honestly, if I see a recipe that lists something foreign, I kind of skip over it and instantly forget about how delicious it sounded. And I use the word ‘foreign’ rather loosely here. I’ve never been an experimental cook. I’ve never, ever held a leak, never mind cooked with one. I’ve cooked with tofu once… years and years ago. I stick to the popular cheeses, such as cheddar and parmesan; and I’ve definitely snubbed eggplant, just because it was the color of the shirt I was wearing.
I bake Italian bread and blueberry muffins. Serve corn chowders and chicken stew. The utensils I use are probably all included in a five-year-old’s cooking play set. It’s not that I don’t own a few fancy contraptions. I actually have a very nice food processor. It’s just never seen the light of day and has been carefully stored away since I obtained it several years ago at my bridal shower. I’m just a little frightened of it and all the blades I’m supposed to assemble. So I chop, grate, and shred everything by hand. (Yeah, I need to change that).
Anyway, when I was sick with the flu, I spent the majority of my time glued to the Food network. There were amazing meals galore, but the one recipe that stuck out the most was Giada’s Rosemary and Sweet Potato soup. It looked so creamy. So comforting. So absolutely perfect.
So out of my comfort zone…
First of all, she easily pureed the soup with her immersion blender, which is a cooking contraption that I didn’t really know existed. Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I knew about them, but I’d definitely never given them more than a second of thought. Secondly, she used mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone what? It definitely wasn’t cheddar…
Last but not least, the recipe called for shallots. Please don’t laugh, but I had no idea what a shallot was. I expected them to look like scallions, but they actually look like stubby onions. They also make one’s eyes water like onions would. Not that I’m speaking from experience now. Just sayin’.
But I decided, right then and there, that I was going to make this recipe, even if it killed me.
So over this past weekend, I bought myself a new cooking toy. An immersion blender.
It’s quite the tool. Mine comes with a whisk so I can make whipped cream without burning a single calorie. It also comes with an attachment that chops and grates food. It’s like a mini food processor without the scary. (Baby steps, people. Baby steps).
I also bought that mascarpone cheese, which is — apparently — often used in desserts. Desserts such as tiramisu. Don’t think for a second that it’s sweet though. It tastes like a flavorless cream cheese. Or maybe even a little bit like a cheese you would put in lasagna (just not sure if it tasted more like cottage cheese or ricatta). How’s that for being a descriptive chef? 😉
Much to my surprise, trying something new in the kitchen was actually quite exhilarating. Sure, I may have got over-excited and turned the blender on too high when it wasn’t immersed enough. So, yes, I may have got some hot soup splattered onto my face. (No burns, thank goodness). But it was FUN! AND delicious! Let’s just say that I know which recipe will be featured in this Sunday’s blog segment. Soooo yummy! Definitely worth buying the immersion blender and the unfamiliar cheese. 🙂 (Although if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can put small batches of soup in your regular blender and puree it that way).
Are you a brave cook, trying new ‘contraptions’ and foods? Or do you stick to the familiar?