While watching Chopped earlier this week, (Yes, I am a Food TV junkie,) one of the competitors went on and on about the food he meant to cook that didn't get on the plate. He had a plan and a picture in his head of what he thought the judges needed to see from him in order to win and it didn't work out.
"Don't tell us about what we can't taste." One judge reprimanded...and then added with a grin, "There's no need to talk about what didn't make it because what did make it is superb."
Take that and shove it into your convention oven! Whoa!
And so the basic rule of cooking is reinforced: Go with the flow, embrace whatever happens, then take credit for the mistake...I mean final result. I can't tell you how many times I have jumped up and down because of a happy accident. Case in point, the deep pinkish-fuchsia color my quick pickled radishes turned into. YOU may have already discovered this, but it was a first for me. And boy did it end up becoming the crowning glory of a meal that flat out rocked.
I'm getting into this "presentation" phase with my food. Experimenting with how things look plated in an elegant way, and learning about scale and white space with food. It is a kick. Stacking, smearing, teetering...It is just FUN. And it teaches you a lot about texture and which food doesn't go on the bottom. (Oh my!)
The other kind of accident (but not as much for me these days and I'm really getting the feel of how to take a series of flavors and spices and create a completely new taste,) is when the flavors from one dish are so perfectly paired with the whole meal you wish you could just jump on the plate and roll the food all over you it is that good.
That's exactly what happened when I created this fan-worthy meal. See the photos below for my GRILLED PORK LOIN WITH PEAR CRANBERRY CHUTNEY, INDIAN SPICED LENTILS, POTATO/ARTICHOKE/GOAT CHEESE PANCAKES. Even the dessert caused us to swoon. I let fresh raspberries sit in a little sugar, port wine, and lemon zest then tucked them into dough and create these FRESH RASPBERRY HAND PIES. But it was the BRANDY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING that knocked us out!!!
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When you cook a piece of meat slowly, you do it because you understand that something wonderful happens when you let time mesh flavors. This kind of care results in a slice of heaven that is beautifully colored, and fork tender. This metaphor could also apply to friendships, which all become more tender, more alike, and more important as time goes by.
This meal was made for friends, lovingly, consciously, tenderly.
I like to say 'radicchio,' I like to eat radicchio, and I love the write radicchio. So, it makes sense I love to COOK with radicchio!! Sweet potatoes also are a fan of this reddish, leafy cabbage kin. The lush bitterness is a perfect compliment to the heady sweetness of the taters. I gotta say that even though this was easy, it looks very impressive and tastes so GOOD! -- It's time for strawberries, and they work so well in a salad with spring greens, spinach, red pepper, cukes, red onions, and lots of fresh herbs. The dressing was a classic lemon, mustard vinaigrette. It is a go-to for me. I hope you like it, too! -- Paula Deen knows her bread. And now my friends know where to come for the most moist, flavorful, light, and impossible-to-resist biscuits. A bottle of Corona light beer, and 4 cups of Bisquick and you are in business! -- Finally, the theme of the evening. This slow roasted, herb crusted, white wine Au Jus accompanied pork loin...it is STILL breaking hearts 4 days later. -- MAKE THEM ALL!
My dad is a fan of giving food as gifts, especially on Christmas. I can always count on receiving some fantastic cheeses, beautiful nuts and dates, and other fare that makes me feel like I'm in that scene from "It's a Wonderful Life," where Donna Reed is welcoming the Martini Family to the hood. However, this year we got sidetracked a bit and didn't exchange gifts until a day or two after, even though he lives just around the corner. So, when I opened his gift this year and saw two beautiful Pork Loin Roasts. I quietly wondered if they'd been in his garage for awhile because he's famous for short-cuts. Yes, they were cold and had been refrigerated. No, they hadn't been frozen. All in all, they were about 3 days old. They needed to be cooked.
Don't tell anyone, but some days I don't feel like high maintenance cooking. And with Pork Loin, I like to make them with a Mushroom Port Wine Reduction as a reward for surviving Winter, and because I love how the wine sizzles when you add it to the mushrooms. When faced with these slabs of luxurious pig, I realized I wanted something, or someone to do it for me. Which is why God invented slow cookers, and why I knew it was time to figure out how to make shredded meat carnitas enchiladas at home because it's one of my husband's favorite 'eat out' meals.
The following was a sure thing. Moist, tender, flavorful and super duper easy. The spice was perfect, the tanginess balanced, the cumin unobtrusive but present. You don't HAVE to use pork tenderloin, indeed this is a bit of a luxury for peasant food, but I'm telling ya, it really makes a difference in the sweetness and the texture of the entire meal.
Ole, Dad. And Gracias for another great gift!
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Meet the Cook...
My name is Camine Pappas and I love to create beautiful and delicious food that anyone can make. My signature style centers around a love for combining things in a way you might not expect as I work to find a hidden combination of colors, textures and flavors from the things that are in my pantry and/or easy to obtain.