14 January 2008

Yoga of cooking...

As much as I love to cook I love practising yoga. Apart from traditional yoga for body and mind, there are yoga of speech, yoga of thinking, yoga of living, et cetera. It’s probably why a few days ago I woke up to understood that probably there exists the yoga of cooking. At least for me. It’s all about expanding your horizons, staying focused, enjoying and cherishing every bite here and now (aren’t we talking about the yoga principles, huh? *Smiles*), staying non-judgmental to your lovely self when something goes haywire in your kitchen (even though it might really be very disappointing, annoying, devastating and frustrating (brrrr…). But what’s even more important is, like in real yoga, the yoga of cooking calls you to leave your comfort zone. Any new recipe (a.k.a. cooking asana) might be a challenge, and sometimes it sure is. Few years back I couldn’t even buy into the idea I would really favour and savour the ingredients/certain types of dishes I had loathed at my teen age. Into this category fell, for instance, all pureed soups (I know my behaviour at that time couldn’t be justified, but I’ve changed, I really HAVE! *wink, wink, wink, wink*)

Thus yesterday I just wanted to make sure that my yoga-of-cooking-theory holds its waters indeed. It was high time to cook pureed soup. I got down to business to pick up a recipe that’d match my affection towards simplicity to the ingredients I had on hand. Such a brainstorming activity, I must tell you. Firstly, I leafed through my cookbooks – nothing matching was found, then called my trusty laptop for help. On Michele’s site (thanks Michele, you and your blog are great!) I picked up that namely recipe. Originally it’s a Tuscan Chickpea Soup But knowing my love for experimentation and such a serious mission to fulfil, eventually I ended up with a la Tuscan Chickpea Soup. *broad smile and puppy eyes* Not only I was satisfied with the results, but also the fresh rosemary I kept on my kitchen window sill while it was 20 degrees below zero (well, I’m in Moscow/Russia, don’t you forget). All week long it was signalling me SOS (Save Our Sprigs) and finally found a consolation in a smooth velvety blanket of my soup.

Adapted version of Tuscan Chickpea Soup (if I used canned white beans instead of chickpeas, might I call this soup a la Tuscan Chickpea Soup? *thinking hard* Well, I simply didn’t have chickpeas on hand, and yet I desperately needed to prove my theory, to save rosemary sprigs and feed myself. You see how many tasks to accomplish? *smiles*

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil1 cup finely chopped onion6 garlic cloves, minced3 cups water1 teaspoon minced fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary3/4 teaspoon salt1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (12 ounce) can white beans
3 tablespoons tomato paste (I didn’t have canned tomatoes either)1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¾ teaspoon mango powder6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
Instructions (as featured in oswegotea.com)
'Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the water and the next 5 ingredients (water through tomatoes), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
Place 2 cups soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth. Pour the pureed soup into a bowl. Repeat procedure with 2 cups soup. Return all pureed soup to pan. Stir in the vinegar, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Spoon 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 6 bowls; sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. The amount of the garlic, the balsamic vinegar and the parmesan are all crucial to the taste of the soup, and make it absolutely delicious. If you omit any one of them your soup will quickly become mediocre'

My slight addition: no matter if it’s chickpea or white beans, they all belong to the large bean’s family. Thus I added 3/4 teaspoon mango powder to add sour fruity flavour to the smoothing texture of the beans (plus to facilitate the digestion, smart huh?) *wink, wink*

After tasting the Soup I felt relieved that my yoga of cooking theory is foolproof, so my culinary horizons are pushed a mile forward. Hip, hip, hurrah! The feeling of soaring high in the sky overwhelmed me, I felt enlightened. Either the fragrant warmth of rosemary reminded me of summer with its bounty of sunshine or something beneath my understanding yet, but I thought that ice-cream for desert would be just fine (who said ice-cream is a summer treat?). Again I felt like leaving my comfort-zone and trying something provocative for my taste buds. Vanilla ice cream with olive oil (as featured in Jamie Oliver’s book ), popped up in my mind right away! He suggests the vanilla ice cream be of the best quality and olive oil be rich with fruity tones. Be it then, I said to myself, and savoured my provocative dessert consciously. I’m telling you it was so bizarre and luscious. I was IN the moment till the last bite. Like in real yoga…

P.S. I’d really love it if you could comment on some dish/ingredient/cooking technique that’s somewhat challenging to you and how you overcome it.

P.P.S. In one of her last posts Clotilde asks her readers (and I’m proud to be amongst them, actually) to list 5 you-could-never-do-without items in your kitchen. If I say I could never do without a pairing knife, a tablespoon, non-stick frying pan, blender and ME (ambitious, isn’t it?) in a kitchen, would that count? *smile from ear to ear*


Cinnamonda said...

Greetings from a fellow newbie food-blogger! I love your idea of the yoga of cooking!

The Columbia Foodie said...

Loved this entry. I'm a huge yogi and foodie as well. Yoga goes hand in hand with the Slow Food Movement on so many levels, taking time to savor and enjoy your meals.
Right on!

Cookiemouse said...

That's cool! An English food blog from Russia. Thanks for passing by and I'll be keeping an eye on how you get on. Good luck! Slow food is a great idea. We had a Slow Food Festival here in Amsterdam in the summer.