Thursday, December 6, 2007

Good Taste or Taste Good; "Trust the Force, Luke."

Fashion, cooking and Star Wars.

"Good God in Heaven, chef, what in Blazes ties these three together?!"
Since cinn-a-bon hairdo's of Princess Leiah never caught on and food was never a part of the screenplay, well, we are doing some stretching here.
It starts with a story, like all good food recipes do...

A friend* of mine fancies himself a gourmand. He reads voraciously on the latest food and wine trends, has the income to purchase top of the line products and gadgets, lives in a trendy, loft-drenched area, still, to his credit shares generously.

My friend drops names; not of people but of brands. Kobe, Salume, Parm-Reggiano and free-range chicken pass his lips like like an IPA passes mine. I shop for available products at a good price, then combine them into something greater than just the sum of the parts. My friend will only shop where things cost more, insisting that quality follows price.

He shakes his head at me and I laugh at him.

He could plop $100 of cheese on a tray, slide out some organic, multi-grain crackers milled by a cloister of Basque virgins and slice a few Honeycrisp apples to impress a group. All this while sipping half a glass of bracing New Zealand sauvignon blanc the entire evening. People will smile and make vapid conversation.

Yours truly, on the other hand, would make a risotto with $20 of cheese, start 'em with wine and garlic asparagus in the kitchen as we hang out, and throw in a mixed green salad with a simple balsamic vinaigrette from ingredients found on my refrigerator door. We would probably use some questionable language, hug and kiss alot, laugh like hell and have a recycling pile going before we hit the dining room table!

I have actually heard my friend tell people of his amazing taste and impeccable palate, how he can sense 'bretanomyceces' in a room, even before a cork is pulled from a bottle!
He abors 'score whores' except when he is one of them, touting his latest futures purchase based on the advance copy of the online edition of Wine Spectator, Wine Advocate or Whatever-Vine publication.

Yeah, that's what I said, "Shock and Awe."

Therefore, my advise to every person with whom I speak regarding food and beverage is this: Trust your palate.

Only you are going to experience the sensation of taste in your mouth. If it tastes good to you, then it's good! So what if it came from Safeway, Albertson's or your local grocer. Who cares if you purchased the inexpensive shoulder cut, as long as you slow-cooked it and the texture became as succulent as beef cheeks!?

Truth be told, you can attempt to purchase good taste or you can work towards making things taste good.
Trust your own sense of taste while striving to make your palate a better judge of taste.
Listen to your culinary guardian angel, perched on your apron collar who speaks to you just as Obi-wan-kanobi whispered to an aspiring young Jedi, "Trust the Force, Luke."

*(may be one person or an amalgam of personalities. Let's just call it a literary device.)

OK, let's get cookin'...
Baked Salmon with Hazelnut Crust
(serves 4 peeps)
I love this preparation because people think you've gone to Hell an' back...
1/2 cup Hazelnuts, toasted and ground, Willamette valley
1 Cup bread crumbs, seasoned
sprinkle kosher salt and ground black pepper
5 oz. salmon filet, make 4 of these (that's one per person...)
2 Tbls Blackberry jam (marionberry in Oregon)
4 oz. vegetable stock, Pacific Foods (in Oregon)
1 stick salted butter, cut into 8 cubes, still hard!
Pre-heat your oven to 4-bills (400).
Take your bread crumbs and ground hazelnuts to the food processor for a little "get acquainted" session. Let 'er rip! Don't get too crazy; we want crumbs not hazelnut butter.
Place in a mixing bowl when finished.
Spray each filet with aerosol oil (PAM) and toss with the crumb mixture. Toss, toss, toss.
Now, with the delicacy of a nun on May-Day, place the filets on a cookie sheet and launch into the 400 degree oven.
God, this is such a no-brainer...!
Grab a 2 qt. sauce pot and add the jam and stock to it. Place on medium heat. Once it has come to a boil and all is incorporated (looks the same), begin to whisk in your cubes of butter on low-medium heat.
When all are 'incorporated', and look like creamy-style purple stuff, you are done!
Remove salmon when the flesh feels like the skin between your thumb and index finger pushed together (taught, the protein is set, not squishy...)
Moral of the Story: Trust your palate! You are your own best judge.
...and remember:
"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things."
Take care, Merry Christmas and God bless, Brian.

1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for sharing your love for cooking with the masses. How about adding a wine suggestion with your recipes