I always liked the look and the idea of an Aga. I first came across one in a rented rural cottage in one of our family holidays in England. And being Portuguese and had never seen one, I thought it was a weird and quirky thing that scared me a little.
Since then, as I lived more years in England and as I became more interested in all things countryside, the Aga went from weird to cute and then to an object of desire. A ‘lifestyle’, even, and one I aspired to (even though I still had no idea how to use it).
We then moved to the countryside and the house we moved into had an Aga – I was so excited! And nervous… how was I going to cook my no-fail rice on it? No-fail rice needs a controllable simmering setting – setting no.1! There are no settings on an Aga, numerical or otherwise. There is very hot and not so hot. And hotter in the middle than on the edges. Still I was excited! Something new I needed to figure out in the kitchen!
Since the first time I used it (I made toast by putting a piece of bread directly on top of the very hot bit and it turned out, let’s say… interesting) it has grown in my heart. It is a wonderful thing and somehow it makes you feel like a better cook even though your skills are exactly the same. The challenge of moving the pans inwards and outwards as things cook, moving food from oven to oven and getting it right gives you sense of empowerment. There is a ‘feel’, an extra ‘sense’ you need to have to get things right, I even nailed the no-fail rice at the first attempt.
And it is beautifully designed, smooth and warm, a comforting sight.
Other things that work really well are roasted potatoes and oven chips. There is something about that roasting oven (which I found out is usually at 250 degrees) that cooks potato-y things really well. Something tells me baking might be a challenge, though!