It feels soooo good to be back in the kitchen again. To feel inspired by sights, smells and flavours. To dream up things I want to eat and things I want to feed my husband. To chop, peel and grill. To present a beautiful plate of food. And most of all, to watch him tuck in happily.
You see, most of the time, M cooks for me. He is a wonderful cook, don’t get me wrong, and I’m very fortunate to have someone who tries his best to come up with something new, exciting and delicious on the menu everyday. Now it’s my turn and I’m gladly returning the favour.
I’ve been a little more cautious with what I eat lately, as I am getting older and it only makes sense to try and eat a more balanced diet in appropriate quantities. I used to have such a hearty appetite, even M was a little alarmed in the early stages of our relationship and casually mentioned that even if I don’t get fat, I might just eat till he and I are broke. After a health scare in my family this year, I’ve resolved to cut down on the quantities of food that I’m packing in, and surprisingly, it didn’t take much effort to do so – it’s the age thing I reckon, I feel full more quickly than I do before with the same quantities of food. But I have my weaknesses – the more-than-occasional chocolate, the incredibly tasty stuff (i.e. anything tasty is usually high in carbohydrates or fats) and man, do I dislike vegetables. To make matters worse, I don’t see the point of eating fruits. My philosophy was (still is, actually), why make yourself feel bloated with fruit when you can have your rice and meats, and feel properly full instead? People say they feel cleansed after eating fruits, I say I feel stupidly bloated and uncomfortable.
Regardless, I’ve started to pay more attention to what I eat. I still have a bit of a battle with fruits, but I try to have more vegetables and less carbohydrates (rice usually makes me happy). And the only person who could make me eat more vegetables is….unfortunately not my mother or my husband. It is Yotam Ottolenghi. If everyone makes salads like he does, we would all be vegetarians, I kid you not. I first heard of Ottolenghi about 6 years ago, when I realised that M loved the chocolate cake and I asked his good friend to get a birthday cake for him on my behalf as I was living in Singapore. When I came to London for a holiday, I made it a point to drop by Ottolenghi to try the cake for myself, and it was good but I remember thinking how silly those ridiculous good-looking model-esque people were to queue for….salads. I was clearly not herbivorous then. Two years ago, my good friend D suggested for us to have lunch at Ottolenghi, boy was I skeptical but I was keen to try the cakes, so I agreed. That changed my life forever (D has a knack for changing my life, first with macarons then this). I had the roasted aubergines with saffron yoghurt salad and I was SOLD.
I took M to Ottolenghi after that, and he too agreed that the salads were wonderful. So this week, I decided to make the roasted aubergines salad for lunch. I had only two strands of saffron left in the pantry and it wasn’t enough to make the yoghurt, so I tweaked the recipe and added whatever I fancied to make it better. It was mostly aubergines, pomegranate, pine nuts, basil drizzled with a yoghurt-y sauce made from 0% fat Greek yoghurt and some seasoning. I couldn’t stay away from meat of course, so I added some roast chicken slices into the salad, and it was divine. I can’t believe I’m saying this but it is possible to have a delicious AND healthy meal, and this revelation is all thanks to Ottolenghi! Needless to say, M was happy to come home to a good lunch.
We do have sinful meals of course. Just the other night, I made one of my favourite things in the world – Chorizo Spanish Tortilla! Turned out perfect and we were happily fighting for the last piece.
So it isn’t so bad to be healthier, really. I’m back to cooking with more of a healthy focus than before, everything’s still pretty damn tasty and our bellies are happy. I’m looking forward to trying out more new recipes in the kitchen and feeding M. Looks like New Year’s resolution came very much resolved…..early!