Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A culinary lesson, finally learned

I'm currently finishing up my lunch break.  My food photos are on my home computer, so a post with pictures will have to wait.  In the meantime, I thought I'd start the "real" posts off with a culinary lesson I sort-of learned last summer, but really learned today.

The lesson is simple: if I cook something and don't like how it tastes the first time, I probably won't like how it tastes in leftover form the next day.  Last summer, while testing recipes for a dinner party, I tried making Ina Garten's pea soup, which her book (Barefoot Contessa At Home) said could be served hot or cold.  I made it, tried it hot, and didn't like it.  I then put it in the fridge and chilled it, tried it after a few hours, and still didn't like it.  Undeterred, I waited until the next day, tried it again, and really really didn't like it.  Needless to say, the soup didn't make it into the dinner party.  In general, I love Ina Garten.  Her coconut cake was what I chose to make after taking the MCAT, and it (the cake, not the MCAT) was fun and fabulous.  In the case of this pea soup, I think it was the combination of peas and mint that just wasn't friendly to my taste buds.

Anyway, yesterday it was around 100 degrees in Palo Alto, and of course, most apartments - including mine - have no air conditioning.  It was way too hot to cook anything complicated, so since I had some ripe Early Girl tomatoes and basil from the Farmer's Market, along with some leftover canned coconut milk, I decided to quarter and toss the tomatoes with a few spoonfuls of coconut milk, finely chopped basil, and black pepper.  Sounds pretty good, right?  I thought the creaminess of the coconut milk would pair well with the tomatoes, and basil and black pepper made sense, too.  The first bite was pretty refreshing, but the more I ate, the less I enjoyed it, though I couldn't figure out why.  Fortunately, I also had some corn, salmon, and pasta to go along with it.

I brought some of the leftover tomatoes and pasta for lunch today, and microwaved it first.  I don't know if the microwaving was an improvement or not, but my first bite today was much less pleasant than yesterday.  The coconut "dressing" didn't seem overly creamy, but it was somehow still cloying, and even after a couple bites of a great brownie (more on that in another post), I still have an unpleasant aftertaste in my mouth.  My conclusion is that I don't like uncooked coconut milk, and I plan to avoid using it as a salad dressing in future.  I'll also forgive myself for throwing away the rest of this tomato salad :-(.