That time of the month has come around again when I feel it is my duty to impart some of my culinary wisdom upon you. I’m feeling mildly excited about getting back into the kitchen this Summer, especially after my recent two-week ‘degustation’ holiday in the company of the master of food (my dad) as well as my recent visit to the Sydney Noodle Market.
As you probably know by now, I am the BIGGEST foodie and the WORST cook, so I believe I have the right qualifications to be a leading expert on how to cheat in cooking, especially when it comes to making food look good with minimum effort.
I thought I’d kick off this, my first Cook’s Cheat Sheet, with some Wow-Factor Salad Ingredients that are sure to impress. These ingredients do not have silly names that no-one can pronounce, are as sexy as, super-easy to locate in your local supermarket – (no, you don’t have to fly-fish off rocks of the Seychelles, forage in the olive groves of Italy or cross the threshold of your local health food shop) – but although not exactly exotic, they will give that weary-looking salad the X factor you need to impress, make your salads look
edible scrumptious, professional and exotic-like.
Your salads will look as though you actually cared when you threw them together.
Take it from me, these are THE salad ingredients to add to that salad you have to take to a dinner party when you’re already pissed from afternoon drinkies and can no longer co-ordinate or see, or to new friends you don’t really want to see at all but need a conversation-starter with, or to that bbq that you know Mrs Jamie Fucking ‘I cook with duck liver oil’ Oliver and have perfect kids, is going to be at.
Whatever happened to the good old tomato, cucumber and lettuce salad? Still works in Europe – just saying.
So here are my very special eight ingredients to cheat with. Add any one of these suckers into the most mediocre, sad-assed salad and it will take on new life, bloom like a flower in Spring and give you that culinary class you so desire.
Figs – cut in half, they almost look like sexy lady bits. They give colour, juice and succulence, suggestive of opulence and class.
Asparagus – refined, French, phallic and reeking of culinary distinction.
Pomegranate Seeds – Wicked little noisettes of moist, sweet naughtiness that give colour and a sugar fix.
Watermelon – Before I came to Australia I thought this would be absolutely gross in a salad, but again it gives life through colour, juice, freshness and ‘balance’ mixed with the right herbs and cheeses.
Home-made croutons – they have to be big, rustic and authentic. They need to look like they’ve been made from old homemade bread you just happened to find at the back of the pantry. Bread takes a salad to comfort level.
Fennel – this is so fucking posh you have to use it just to watch the look of sheer admiration on your friends faces. Oozingly bulbous and simply melts in your mouth with a liquorice taste that reminds me of the menus du jour in cheap French restaurants, long lunches and the accompanying Pastis.
Ginger – I cut up fresh ginger and chuck it in every Asian salad with cabbage, coriander, chilli and carrot and it gives it that kick that works so well against the sweeter Asian dressing. (Absolutely die for it wrapped in chocolate too – but not in salad, obviously). It’s like the Vegemite/Marmite debate – you either love it or hate it.
Mint – Huge fan of fresh herbs in salads, although the old man gags on them. Mint is the only herb that lasts longer than a day in my fridge before expiring (for no fucking reason whatsoever and no matter how carefully I water them). Love mint in Greek salads and in a Tandoori chicken salad.
And not one fucking grain of Quinoa in sight!