Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Mama Masha's kitchen - that little something
Spices and sauces scare people. They are associated with French and Italian chefs making complex dishes with a list of ingredients as long as one’s arm. It’s not that people, honestly, it isn’t. If you are familiar with things like, say, sour cream, cheese, and diced tomatoes and are capable of performing stirring motions with a spoon, you are well on your way to sauce mastery. Why, you may ask, do I need to be familiar with such things? Because, my dears, there are only so many times you can eat bland pasta or bland rice or bland potatoes with nothing on them except maybe a dash of salt. Things can get boring in the kitchen, and knowing how to be saucy and spicy is a way to prepare the same basic things many more different ways. Go sour Oh dear, not literally! I am talking, of course, about your dairy products – many of which are essentially sour milk in various shapes and forms. Sour cream, half-and-half, kefir, whipping cream, cheese, yogurt – all of these things go well beyond cereal bowls and healthy snacks. The really cool part about them is that some of them are interchangeable and some can be combined to enhance each other. One of the most basic sauces I use on a regular basis requires butter, onions or shallots, sour cream or yogurt, cheese to taste and whatever else you want to throw in with it. My favorite version is either with shrimp or with diced prosciutto. It goes equally well on pasta or rice. In a small pan, melt about a tablespoon of butter, throw in chopped onions (I prefer Vidalia onions or shallots – you would need a quarter of a large onion, or one whole large shallot for this recipe). If you are using shrimp or ham or prosciutto or frozen veggies, this is the time to add them too. Reduce heat to medium, add two-three large serving spoons of sour cream and a small handful of chopped or shredded cheese. For a milder creamier taste use mozzarella. For a “cheesier” more saturated flavor, use something like sharp cheddar. Start stirring like crazy. Do not let the mix get scorched or stuck to the sides of the pan. Keep stirring until all of the cheese melts and mixes uniformly with sour cream. Voila!