January 31, 2012 § 24 Comments
I am going to start by saying that as a general rule, it is not a good idea to substitute ingredients for one another based on color. At least, don’t do it all willy-nilly. Sure, sweet potato bits can stand in for cubed butternut squash pretty well, and many leafy greens are swingers, changing partners and taking one anothers’ places at will.
But, you may not always get that lucky. At least some small morsel of thought is required.
A cautionary tale: one of my very dearest friends lived along with my self and eight other fairly hapless souls in a large, elegantly dilapidated house on the edge of campus our junior year of college. We all shared a kitchen and subjected each other to our culinary experiments, and dirty dishes, at will. My lovely friend (who is now an excellent cook, so let that be a lesson in perseverance) produced a wide variety of extremely, um, innovative foods, many of which were about as edible as a chocolate truffle rolled in glass shards.
November 21, 2011 § 5 Comments
Yes, vindaloo with parsnips and halibut sounds, well, weird, for lack of a more graceful word. But it tastes really quite amazing. So, you should give it a chance.
It’s alternate name is fish-nip-aloo, which, of course, really makes it sound awesome.
Actually, I rather like the name fishnipaloo for the dish. It’s quirky. It sounds a bit like the name of a Bollywood dance, and that fits this particular curry incredibly well.
January 28, 2010 § Leave a comment
I find our relationship to critters like molds and fungus very interesting. It’s so divided. When we find mold on our bread we wrinkle up our noses and shuttle the bread right into the garbage (or compost, if we’re being virtuous). But, if it’s in our bleu cheese, we’re thrilled by it and the strength of flavor it adds. If we have a fungus on our foot…well that’s not even something I really want to bring up on a food blog. And then there’s a variety of fungi, astutely given names like “death cap” and “destroying angel”, that will kill us quickly if we eat them. But then there’s a whole subset, from shiitakes to morels to truffles, that people will easily pay almost ludicrous sums for, and that, when added to food, add incomparable flavor (though I’m still not entirely convinced that the texture can be vouched for). If I go to a restaurant and I reach something that contains sautéed mushrooms, I have a tendency to stop right there and look no further for what I’m going to order (well, unless there’s a dish with a competing fixation of mine, ie. caramelized onions or avocado, then I go into contortions having to choose).
I love mushrooms, though I’m afraid no one will ever, ever be able to convince me that a grilled portabella burger is a substitute for a hamburger. However, treating mushrooms as mushrooms, they make for a great star in meatless dishes (or meat-ed dishes for that matter!). Give me a grilled portabella on some bread with goat cheese, pesto, and roasted red peppers and I’ll be one happy sandwich-eating camper. Normally I don’t cook with mushrooms half as often as I’d like to because I don’t think to buy them if I happen to be at a grocery store. But, this last week has been an exception, big time. I can’t stop cooking with them! They’re everywhere! Poor Joel (the wonderful man in my life, who still misguidedly under appreciates pumpkin pie) works very near to a super market, and almost every night of the last week he has received an email from me at work suggesting that maybe he was secretly hoping to go to the store again and pick up some more mushrooms, and since he probably was hoping this that perhaps I might support him in doing so. And so the mushrooms make their way into supper again and again. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 20, 2010 § Leave a comment
I’ve been making a lot of mashed things lately. I’m beginning to wonder if I have some unconscious aggression seething inside me that’s coming out in my cooking, or something. After all, there are few things more cathartic than really pounding the heck out of some root vegetables. I learned in a Belgian restaurant that the Flemmish word for mash, apparently, is stoemp, which I really like the sound of. I think it’s a very accurate sound to convey the process of smashing your boiled food to a pulp. Well, until you get out the handheld mixer and decide to whip it up, to make it less stoemped and a little more light airy (the question is, does this then mean the suppressed aggression has reached scary levels?).
Anyways, I’ve been mashing just about every root vegetable known to man, except the classic potato. I made some very lovely mashed sweet potatoes (they were the light orange color I’m currently fancying painting my bathroom!), lightly sweetened with maple syrup but with a dash of salt for contrast. I was at a friend’s for dinner a couple of nights ago where we had cheesy beer waffles for supper (which, by the way may possibly be the absolute best use of a waffle iron EVER! They were amazing. I definitely will find the recipe). But, when we looked, the main other foodstuffs we could turn up was a large rutabaga. So, I iron chefed it with the other things I could find, those being: a lime, cream cheese, butter, cilantro, garlic, onion, and a small green bell pepper. Rutabagas aren’t particularly flavorful, so we figured we could add whatever we wanted to it, as long as the rest of the ingredients went together. I minced the onion and bell pepper and sautéed them. Meanwhile I peeled, chopped, and boiled the rutabaga until it was soft, and drained the water off. Then I smashed together the rutabaga with a couple of Tablespoons of the cream cheese and a plop of butter for creaminess, and the onion and pepper for some extra flavor. Inspired by the quasi-Latin-Americaness of the onions and pepper we also made a sort of chimichurri by mincing a clove of garlic, and a couple Tablespoons of cilantro, mixing these with a tsp. of lime zest, a squeeze of the lime, and finally a drizzle of olive oil to hold it all together. We sprinkled this on top of the mashed rutabaga, and it was actually quite delicious. (It didn’t go with the waffles at all though, oh well, that’s when you pretend you’ve made the food to be eaten in mini courses.) « Read the rest of this entry »