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Daughters, America inspire a penchant for cooking

By Tom Tillman


    Thirty-seven years ago, as a teenager from Bangkok, I landed in Riverside, California, where I went to school and for a time worked at a family restaurant called “Gordo’s”.
    What impressed me was the variety and origins of  the food I was exposed to.  Food and more food – it was there all the time. I wasn’t obsessed with food as much as I was by the variety and diversity of food that became part of the culture of America.
    While earning a bachelor’s degree from Colton University, ITT Technical Institute, I worked for several restaurants.  But working in a restaurant was not my idea of a career after I received my education in computers.The career opportunity I was seeking didn’t materialize, so I emigrated back to Thailand, where I did find a job that capitalized on my talent and knowledge about Internet technology.
     Meanwhile, I married, had three daughters, was divorced and am now a single father raising a teenage girl and her sisters, 12 and 5. They are beautiful children and I want them to experience all there is to life, including cultural differences the way I did. Of course, that includes different cuisine, just as I had experienced in America.
    Unfortunately, I can’t take them out to eat every night. But I can cook. And I believe I have become quite good at it. What makes my cooking unique is that I take a normal dish, from  most any country, add my special touches and suit that to the taste of my daughters. And that’s what I want to do, beginning with this issue of ASIA – create something that will suit your different tastes, as well.
    This is what I call truly international.
    In addition to a special recipe      here each issue, I’ll provide a different recipe weekly to the Asia Media America website at www.asiamediaamerica.com The recipe may involve American fast food, French cuisine, or Chinese Mandarin cooking. So in addition to satisfying the palate of my children – and yours – I hope we may learn a few things about other cultures.
    Several days ago, my youngest daughter saw a television commercial about spaghetti and sausages and asked me if we could go out to dinner and order that for her. I told her that better than that, I would make it. Plus, it would be less expensive than eating out.
    So here’s my recipe for “Thaitalian Spaghetti.”
    Cut a chicken sausage in pieces around 1 1/2 inches thick, insert 10 sticks of dried linguine into each sausage and plug each until you finish the box. Before boiling the pasta, soak your sausage and sticks of pasta until the pasta is soft.
Proceed to your sauce.

* 1 (28-ounce) can tomato paste
* 200 grams grounded beef
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, depending on how many you are serving
* 1/3 red onion, medium diced
* Pinch of paprika
* 3 cloves garlic, sliced into chunks
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
* Handful fresh basil
* 200 grams of champion mushroom
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

    In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion garlic and ground beef, and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and champion mushroom, and cook 5 minutes more, until the champion mushroom is quite soft.  
    Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, top with fresh basil, season with salt and serve. This sauce holds one week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer. The cooked pasta should be added to a saucepan with the appropriate amount of sauce to suit your  taste. Garnish with basil leaves and cheese. And enjoy.

(Send comments and suggestions for recipes to thomas.m.tillman@email.com)

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