Some of the most memorable dishes I’ve eaten have also been the simplest, it doesn’t take a gazillion techniques and ingredients to make a dish pop. So here’s my take on simple wilted baby spinach with garlic and olive oil, except I’ve added just a couple of things here and there to make it really shine. The whole thing shouldn’t take longer than 15mins with prep.
Nothing guarantees success more than selecting good produce and actual good cooking, but good prep work will certainly go a long way in helping to sway the results favorably. Enter the mighty steak; here’s a few pointers I’ve come to realize that really help me in achieving the best possible results.
A pasta love affair can be quite hard to sustain for extended periods of time, at least if you’re in an uphill struggle against weight gain; all the best sauces are rich in cream or butter, so you’re left with just pomodoro sauces and their variants; easy to overdose on after a couple of weeks. So whenever I bump into a pasta recipe that isn’t dairy heavy and not tomato based, I tend to pay attention (not that I’m promoting light food here on the blog, God forbid!).
I first bumped into this recipe on epicurious.com but something about it seemed off; so I’ve made a couple of changes, namely adding brandy to the sauce to give it a deep earthy richness and then letting go of the lemon zest. We tried it with and without the lemon zest, and it tasted pretty damn good with it, it’s just that the sauce is so delicate, especially if you splurge on the mushrooms, that it ends up overpowering it. Sprinkling some chopped fresh parsley over the top just before serving should be sufficient to lighting the dish up and make it pop.
Here’s the recipe
Since I’m starting to see that populating this blog with recipes at any frequency that can be meaningful to the reader will have to entail me cooking full-time (maybe something to look forward to in the not so distant future) I’ve decided to add a tip of the week post to try to fill in the blanks. It’s nothing earth shattering, it’s more stuff that I genuinely didn’t know about when I first started cooking a couple of years ago. Also, if anyone does have any tips they’d like to share, please do let me know, and we’ll try and get them up here.
So as you may have gathered from the other posts, toasted almonds, walnuts and pine nuts are almost a staple in my cooking, and getting them just right isn’t very easy, so here’s my two cents:
One of the many well catalogued glories of Italian cuisine is its simplicity. My wife and I tried this dish during a trip to Italy, at a lovely little restaurant in Florence. We had been trying for hours to find a place that was a little sheltered from the droves of other tourists that had descended on the city on that fine April weekend, but sadly that was not to be (I seem to fall into the high and mighty trap of feeling like a local when on holiday, and look at other tourists with almost a sense of disdain). But the place was so great (we sat outside) and the owner was so friendly (she was personally waiting on us) and the food so delicious that all (misguided) tourist territorial issues melted away.
I was on a mission to eat a bistecca fiorentina, and had practically been dreaming about this moment all day. But then when our starters came, it was almost like we got sucker-punched by that salad, it’s that good. Sadly the starter set the bar so high, that when our mains came, they were perfectly positioned for disappointment.
Anyway, the salad was soooo good and fresh and simple, that my wife and I vowed to try and recreate it on our return to Dubai. Sadly, it didn’t come with an at home visit to the Ufizzi gallery and walks along the Florentine Piazzas, but resulted in an almost perfect replica of the same brilliant dish.
Finally, beef! We had friends over a few days ago and barbequed some steaks, and had two steaks left over, a lovely fillet (about 1.5cm (1/2″) thick) and a striploin (about 2.5cm (1″) thick). So we stuck them in the freezer (I know, I know, certainly not a great start for resounding success) and took them out last night to make some super tasty, but sadly, terribly calorie-ific steak Diane. A steak Diane is basically a piece of pan fried steak (usually fillet or tenderloin) that’s topped with a tasty mustard, mushroom, cream and brandy sauce. I can’t emphasize just how damn tasty this piece of meat ended up being; I mean, we practically licked our plates clean! The recipe I used is based on an Emril Lagasse recipe, but it’s a pretty standard set of ingredients with minor variations here and there. If there’s one tiny criticism, it would be that the cream was possibly a dash too much and that the amount of sauce was too much for the meat.
In the instructions below, I’ll go through how I think one can cook the perfect piece of meat, briefly, but I hope to one day give the process an independent post by itself.
So the lasagne plating of this dish was a bit of a fail, but I know why, and I think I know what I need to do to make sure it doesn’t flop next time I attempt this dish. What I ended up with tho is an almost perfectly balanced appetiser in terms of falvours; freshness, richness, sweetness, sourness… very very nice.
The intention was to make a lasagne that uses Zucchini slices instead of pasta sheets, and an onion lemon filling instead of traditional bolognesish fillings. The problem with the plating only happened at the end when trying to use ring molds to get the individual portions out of the baking dish. Using a very sharp knife and opting for square instead round portions will go along way in ensuring the portions maintain their integrity.
A note before I move on though… I’m not a huge fan of chicken, I mean, it’s pretty versatile and all, but it’s got nothing on red meat (again, the cow). Then again, try as I may, I couldn’t really see this red pesto going well with anything else. Before this attempt, my only other forays in the world of chicken were a mildly successful attempt at Jamie Oliver’s Dad’s Superb Chicken and a somewhat more successful version of Tyler Florence’s Cordon Blue (which is a great dish by the way).
I had been constructing this elaborate dish of chicken three ways in my mind for a while now (a liver risotto, chicken leg confit and a roulade) but never had the time to get it together. So, when my cousin came over for a visit from London and asked me to cook for him, I decided to eliminate the confit and risotto and just go for the roulade. So here goes (to serve 4):
I always thought that my first blog post would be protein driven, seeing that I borderline worship the cow. But sometimes, you stumble upon something, so simple and yet so glorious that it totally messes with your value system. Behold this wonderous creation. It’s so damn good I sometimes just eat it with spoon straight from the jar (an act my poor wife despises on account of its garlic heavy content).
Anyway, there’s nothing easier than this recipe, just dump all the ingredients in a food processor and beat them till they form a perfectly delicious paste. It goes will with pretty much anything… I’ve used it as a filling for a chicken roulade last week, in salad dressing, as a condiment in sandwiches or canapes or in copious amounts over penne.
Continue reading “Glorious Pesto Rosso!”