Cook with a Friend, You’ll Learn Something New

In my culture, there’s proverb that when loosely translated to English says “only he who has not moved around much thinks their mother is the best cook.” It is very easy to revere in your cooking abilities because you’ve not seen any better, but it always amazes me how much you can learn from just a few hours spent cooking with a stranger. I had the opportunity to be hosted by Kavitha Sserunkuma of Healthy Bites for what turned out to be an exciting and resourceful cooking experience. I don’t know if it’s how organised she is, but she sure does make cooking something with a long and equally sophisticated named dish seem so simple.

It’s always fascinating watching another person do their thing in the kitchen. It’s like a magic show to me. I enter another person’s kitchen and I imagine how I would cook what, where I would keep which ingredients, when I would add which spice, at which point to serve, on which plate and in what portions. Only to notice this person do things completely differently from how I would.

If I am free with the individual I am visiting I won’t even sit down for a minute, I’ll be everywhere in their kitchen, touching everything and asking questions about everything I see.

“Why exactly do you need two industrial size fridges Kavitha? Oh, that looks like a nice oven, did you buy it in Uganda? How much was it? Wow, isn’t that like 10,000/- worth of olive oil you’re using for that sauce? Okay where have you hidden the royco Kavitha? I know you must have some royco somewhere in this powdered spices cabin, or should I check in the other one for whole spices?”

The most fun was in the interaction, how she never got tired of answering my relentless and sometimes idiotic questions.

“Why do you have a rubbish bin on your kitchen counter, and why does it have uncooked rice in it?

“Oh, that’s my rice dispenser.”

“A rice dis…what?”

“See, when I pull here and push back, exactly one cup of rice pours into this lower compartment. So it doesn’t only keep my rice clean, it also does the measuring for me.”

On this particular day, Kavitha was preparing Beef Fillet Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted new Potatoes and Cherry Tomato, Cucumber Salad in Avocado Bowl. Which is what you’re going to read about below.

 

DISH

Beef Fillet Steak with Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted New Potatoes and Cherry Tomato, Cucumber Salad in Avocado Bowl

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Beef Fillet Steak

  • Tenderloin steak
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Freshly ground sea salt.

 

Season the steak with black pepper and salt before grilling it in the oven at 165o C for 40 minutes. The steak you use in this case is very important. While it may not be the best option for stewing because it’ll likely just shred and fall apart, beef tenderloin (aka eye fillet) is perfect for this recipe because it’s soft. It’s also rich in ion. You can buy it from specialized butchers and obviously, you’ll find it relatively pricey, somewhere in the range of Ugx. 25,000, depending on where you buy it.

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This is a picture of my host, Kavitha, Seasoning the tenderloin. 

The grilling is done at a low temperature because a high temperature would just cause the steak to constrict and harden yet we want it soft. In this particular cooking cession, my host prepared two of them and this later served as a good learning experience as I’ll explain ahead.

When I asked why freshly ground sea salt, my host explained that it has more flavor and it helps draw out water out of the steak and gives it a crusty feel when removed from the oven.

 Roasted New Potatoes

  • ½ kg Potatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

 

Wash the potatoes thoroughly clean, slice each potato into two or three parts before seasoning them with paper and salt, and then smudged with olive oil. Roast in the oven for 1 hour at 2200c. Roasting these at this much heat effectively gives the potatoes some semblance of deep frying, only in a healthy way.

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After roasting

New potatoes is just one of the many names by which these potatoes go. Some know them as Alika Potatoes, or Baby Potatoes. Any potatoes can work here really, the main preference for these is because they are relatively evenly shaped and smooth, which is helpful because they are meant to be roasted unpeeled. This means they are easy to clean and you won’t be eating dirt buried in potato crevices.

 

CHIMMICHURRI SAUCE

  • Parsley
  • White Vinegar
  • Minced garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

This is a grilled meat green sauce (or marinade in some cases) of Argentinian origin. Some variants of the sauce have paprika, cumin, thyme, lemon, basil, cilantro and bay leaves. If you want it red, you could add tomatoes and red pepper.

Combine all the above ingredients and blend them in a food processor (or blender).

Asked why Apple cider vinegar, Kavitha responded that because it’s fruit based and kind of sweet rather than tangy.

 

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After blending

 

CUCUMBER-TOMATO SALAD IN AVOCADO BOWL

For the salad dressing

  • Lemon juice
  • Honey
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil

For the salad

  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Fresh mint leaves

Slice the cherry tomatoes, cucumber and mint leaves and put them on the side, then slice the avocado into two parts and not any further, remember it’s supposed to be your serving bowl for the salad. It is also advisable that you prepare the dressing just before serving.

 

READY TO SERVE 

When the steak has served it’s time in the grill, you remove it, wrap in aluminum foil and let it rest for 10-15 minutes so it can absorb the juices back. She also mentioned that you can tell when your steak is ready when you touch it and it feels springy. While the steak rests, prepare the salad dressing and mix it with the salad

When the potatoes are also ready, you can now go ahead and serve. Slice the steak into bite size pieces, bring the sauce from the fridge and drizzle it over the steak, pour the salad in one half of the avocado, and plate along with the potatoes and the steak.

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8 thoughts on “Cook with a Friend, You’ll Learn Something New

  1. I would never have you over to see me cook, because I don’t cook anything I would want a real cook to see, but I have thought for a while now that is would be awesome to have a cooking bud. An amateur like me who comes over for experimental Sundays.

    Like

  2. What an interesting read! How easily you made an article about cooking so interesting. We could feel your enthusiasm in your words. I wonder if it’s because I love to cook and learnt something new from this post. Fantastic article. So glad I stumbled on your blog!

    Like

  3. So, you got me at: “Why do you have a rubbish bin on your kitchen counter, and why does it have uncooked rice in it? “Oh, that’s my rice dispenser.”
    Great post. Everything looks so good!

    Like

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