I believe that making your own food – exploring different cuisines, and learning about flavor through the use of herbs and spices – is really a step towards living a sustainable healthy lifestyle. So I thought I would do what I usually do, which is to freestyle my way through making dinner from scratch. My goal is to document it and walk you through how I think when making food that I love to eat.
In my opinion, here are some important details for you to understand how I am able to make food this way:
- I started cooking when I was in high school so I had lots of trial-and-error in the kitchen.
- I am familiar with many herbs, spices, and seasonings so I can comfortably cook food from different cuisines.
- I love watching videos that teach cooking techniques such as knife skills – I suggest Gordon Ramsey’s Masterclass – and I would practice them so that I can be efficient when cooking.
Question 1: What is the one main ingredient that I’d be using?
This time, I have beautiful U.S. fingerling potatoes that I am trying for the first time. That means that my goal for the meal is to keep the flavors light and clean so that I could taste the natural flavor of the potatoes. So rich sauces and creams are off the table.
In deciding the flavors, I also would consider what we have been eating in the past 4-6 meals. And since I want variety, I would have to do something that is different from the recent flavors we had. So finally, I went for Cajun seasoning, which is a mix of onion, garlic, cayenne, oregano, paprika, and thyme.
If you haven’t used Cajun seasoning before, you would find that it is a well-rounded mix of spices. I love it so much because it is so handy, especially when you need to prepare something quickly. It can be perfect to use for meat, poultry, fish, potatoes, fried rice, and vegetables.
You can make your own mix, or purchase it pre-mixed. Just check the ingredients to know if it contains salt. If it does, then you would just have to limit additional table salt to limit the final sodium content of your food.
So I washed, drained, then chopped the potatoes into roughly the same sized pieces. And for 350 grams of potatoes, I added ½ cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning.
I tossed them all together then placed the potatoes into oven-safe baking dishes. They went into a preheated oven at 350F for 15 minutes. This means that I have 15 minutes to quickly prepare the other part of the dish – I plan to make everything using the same equipment.
Question 2: What will accompany your main ingredient?
Chicken breast is my favorite protein because like potatoes, it is a blank canvas that will shine brightly even with the simplest seasonings. And because I wanted the potatoes to be the star of the dish, I opted to just season the chicken with clean flavors.
I took the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half a lemon, and added that to the chicken, along with some garlic powder, salt, and freshly ground pepper. You will see that I tossed the chicken into the same bowl that the potatoes were in because I don’t want the flavors to go to waste. Also, I used olive oil in that so that’s pretty expensive waste if I immediately washed the bowl instead.
Question 3: How do you plan equipment and effort?
Whenever I use the oven, I make sure that I maximize it so I will cook my protein serving in the oven too. So I took out the potatoes that have been baking in the oven for 15 minutes now – just check out how perfect they look. I turned the potatoes upside down so the other side can crisp when I put them back in again.
I scooched the potatoes over to one side and made space for the chicken breast. And when baking chicken, you must take into account that it is a very lean protein that will dry out quickly so it needs help. So I sprinkled some dried parsley onto it, then thinly sliced some butter and laid them on top of the chicken.
I let these bake at 425F for 20 minutes to get some nice color on the chicken and to get the top of the potatoes a bit crispy.
Question 4: How do you name your dishes?
This is easy! Ask yourself first: What is the star of the dish? In this case it’s the potatoes. Then mention the flavors you used – Cajun spice – and the mode of preparation – baked. Then do the same for the accompaniment, then put the parts together. And voila!
I call this dinner Baked Cajun-Spiced Fingerling Potatoes with Lemon Garlic Chicken! Isn’t it amazing how something so simply prepared can be so fancy. It’s all in the word usage, guys!
Question 5: What do I think about the fingerling potatoes?
U.S. fingerling potatoes are not available year-round in the Philippines, so it is best to get your hands on them whenever you can. The potatoes I got came in three colors – yellow, rose, and violet. The colors are so appetizing, and they all taste different too!
The yellow potatoes taste like the usual crisp and light potatoes we are used to. The rose potatoes taste a little nuttier and earthier, and the flavors are pleasantly more intense for the violet ones.
It was a good choice for me to go for a light flavored seasoning. Baking them was a great choice because if I boiled them, the color might have only leached into the water.
And did you know that there are lots of other types of potatoes? Check them out here! Potatoes are so versatile for the kitchen, and fantastic for our diets because they are a wholesome source of carbohydrates, and vitamins & minerals such as vitamin C, protein, iron, and potassium. Including potatoes in your diet makes you a champion for your health!
What an amazing dinner! The prep was relaxed and the food turned out healthy and delicious. You can do this too! With consistent practice and an open mind for exploring new flavors and methods, healthy food preparation will be a breeze.
And if you choose to cook with natural ingredients such as potatoes, the goodness you get will be beyond that dinner. Because your body will thank you for it!