Anyone who knows me at all, knows I LOVE to cook. Cooking and entertaining feed my soul. I thoroughly enjoy everything from making easy dishes to family favorites, to new ethnic dishes and complicated baked goods. I’ve always enjoyed it, but once my husband was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I dove in deeper and never looked back. I’ve learned a lot about cooking over the years – whether it’s from friends, relatives, or online – to create my arsenal of techniques and recipes.
However, I often break some “fundamental” rules, and I’m here to confess my culinary sins.
- Adobo is my salt. My dad is from Costa Rica and I grew up in New York City, so I’m no stranger to Latin American foods. We’ve always used Adobo as an all-purpose seasoning, so it’s a staple in my kitchen. I literally use it on EVERYTHING, from baked chicken to meat sauce to barbecue. Despite having cumin as an ingredient, it does NOT make every dish taste like it, I promise! It is SO EASY to over-salt a dish, and I’ve found that a sprinkling of Adobo gives that extra bit of salt a dish often needs to bring out the flavors. I will say, though, that I am a strict user of the Goya brand of Adobo – I’ve tried many others, and they’re just not the same.
- Unless it’s for a gumbo, I don’t measure my oil and flour for a roux. I really just kind of eyeball it – I can always add more oil or flour, and a roux can easily be transferred to another container and stored in the fridge for later use if you make one too big. Which leads me to my next confession…
- I DON’T constantly stir my roux. I know, I know, the horror! Of course, I stir it regularly, but I don’t stand there with a whisk just stirring away until my arm feels like it’s going to fall off. Anyone who’s ever cooked a roux knows that it can go from a great color to burnt in .18375 seconds, so this is a big one. Yes, I have burned a couple of rouxs by doing this, but it hasn’t happened in a LONG time. I just stir for a while, step away for a minute or so to do something else in the kitchen, then come back and stir again, and so on. Really, once you “get to know” the pot/pan you’re using, your stove and its heat, and your ingredients, you, too, can save yourself a sore arm! This works for both light and very dark rouxs.
- I like chopping things, so I don’t buy pre-chopped vegetables. Nothing against them, and I’ll use them when I know I’m in a time crunch, but not very often. Even then, I’m more apt to chop them myself and store them in the freezer for later use (when sautéing onions, etc., you don’t need to defrost them first!). For me, there’s something fun and sort of meditative about putting on some music or a podcast and just chopping away, ending up with a huge bowl of chopped whatever. I feel that I am probably alone in my enjoyment of chopping, mincing, dicing, and all of the knife-wielding!
- I HATE my slow-cookers. Yes, I have both small and large ones. Please don’t hate me for this! Maybe I haven’t found the “right” recipe in it, which is entirely possible, but I’ve tried many recipes and they just don’t do it for me. I’ll occasionally cook dried beans in it, but even then, I could do the same on a stovetop with just as little effort. Feel free to send me your slow cooker recipes to make me a believer!
- For general cooking (NOT baking), gluten free flour can replace all-purpose flour 1:1. For an etouffee, a roux/gumbo/fricassee, battering and frying, creamy soups, and more – they’re interchangeable. The texture can change slightly because gluten free flour is a bit finer than normal flour, but most people are shocked when they taste my food and later find out it’s gluten free.
- It is NOT a “Blessed Trinity” – it’s a “Blessed Sextet.” Tell me – in most Cajun cooking – WHEN do you use *only* onions, celery, and bell peppers WITHOUT garlic, parsley, and green onions? I’ll give you a second to think about it…and realize that it’s ALMOST NEVER! Even in pre-chopped “trinity” at the grocery store, there’s usually parsley and garlic in it. Of course, the Blessed Trinity is a catchy name, but garlic, parsley, and green onions are feeling quite left out. I am hereby beginning my campaign to publicize the Blessed Sextet and give them the credit they deserve!
I hope I haven’t made too many enemies with my confessions, but PHEW! I sure feel better now!