I'm on a Nigella Thursday hiatus. I have only done 2 so far, and the idea is a good one and I will tackle it head-on during the summer (especially the really difficult recipes), but since track started, it's been difficult finding the energy to cook hardcore on Thursday nights. Last night, I caught wind and didn't pull from Nigella's cookbook, but my own mind.
I was shopping around Aldi, looking for imitation crab. I use that to make crab cakes. The only crab they had was in the form of seafood salad, so I put back my crab cake ingredients and started to go in a different direction. I thought to myself, What if I made something from scratch and didn't follow a recipe? This got me excited. Oh, the possibilities. Plus Aldi is a great place to find some ingredients that you would normally pay about $1,000 for. Like cheese.
I wandered back to the dairy area and I grabbed some half and half. I grabbed a tub of shredded asiago cheese and a tub of shredded romano cheese (these 2 tubs would be $3 or more at any other store). I picked up some mushrooms unsliced (but I've got my Rachel Ray knives). I got some tortellini (I didn't make those from scratch. I'm not that amazing yet).
I threw 2 tbs. of butter (not margarine, but actually Paula Dean's favorite food!) in the pan, with a touch of oil so the butter wouldn't burn, and began to saute some freshly chopped garlic (one of my favorites). The smell was heavenly. The garlic bathed in that butter and turned a delicious brown. I could've placed that garlic and butter in a cup and drink it. I could put it on bread and just eat it all. Once they had cooked for a good while, I threw in my sliced mushrooms and let them cook.
Meanwhile, I took two cups of half and half, as well as a pat of butter, to a boil and added some salt, asiago and romano cheeses. I think I overdid it on the cheeses. The next time I won't use so much because the sauce needed to be a bit creamier. I added salt and let the cheese melt to create a buttery, creamy, rich sauce.
Are you hungry yet?
I deglazed the pan with some Shiraz and let it cook down a little bit more.
Once the cream sauce was melted through, I put in the mushrooms, salt and tasted it. It was creamy, cheesey and the romano cheese added a delicious nutty flavor.
This is exactly what I've been wanting to do for a while. You see, as a Food Network junkie (especially Chopped) when the chefs and cooks throw ingredients together without a book, I am amazed and jealous that they can do that. I know they are trained, but it's so much more fun to NOT go by the book. I do it all the time in life, so why not in the kitchen? It makes me excited just thinking about it! Luckily, I made too much, and there are leftovers.