Moving house left me with a pool of books waiting to be sorted. It is definitely easier for me to cook whatever at hand rather than digging out a recipe hiding at some corner. After all, before the emergence of cookbook, cooks follow their senses. Why can’t you and me? It’s time to jazz up the kitchen.

Start with something simple, really simple, like a vinaigrette. Vinaigrette is essentially an emulsion of oil and vinegar. The two things you need to understand about vinaigrette is: firstly, the ratio of oil to vinegar is generally 3 to 1; and lastly, whisk/blend in the oil to the vinegar slowly (start with a few drops of oil at a time, then a thin stream) so that it can emulsify properly (oil and vinegar blend well).

With that in mind, you can start playing around the flavours. For oil, don’t limit yourself to olive oil, there are a variety of edible oil in the world. Similarly, if you are bored with balsamic vinegar, there are always other options. For the oil and vinegar, I will suggest to start with 2:1 ratio first and adjust from there.

Now you have the oil and vinegar of your choice, you can adjust the taste by adding salt, sugar, pepper, herbs, garlic, shallot, ginger, mustard, spice and the list goes on. I made a pineapple vinaigrette using rice vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, chopped pineapple and its juice, mint, salt and sugar. I left it overnight so that it develops a mellow flavour.

This pineapple vinaigrette is a refreshing summery dressing, so serving it with seared scallop and baby asparagus seems like a go. Oh, I just love the versatility of pineapple, from entrée to dessert, and even cocktails, it has a part to play in many of the tropical dishes. One of the blessings to live in a hot and humid country like Malaysia, is to enjoy the goodness of a fresh pineapple.

Don’t be upset if you can only get canned pineapple with tinned flavour. The whole idea of improvising is to free up oneself from the rigidity of recipes. Go to a local market and see what do they have there. Pick up something fresh and in season. Experiment and taste along the way. Don’t be afraid to fail. Believe me, the food always taste better if you enjoy the cooking process. And that’s a recipe.

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