Sunday, March 27, 2005
Saturday, May 22, 2004
Gremolata is a combination of parsley, lemon zest and garlic and is a classic finishing touch to osso buco. But in this world of cilantro lime pesto, gremolata can be deconstructed and reinvented. Basically, a gremolata is a fresh raw garnish comprised of a raw herb and citrus used to brighten deep flavored dishes like braised meat. Last night I braised a pork shoulder roast and served it with a gremolata of celery leaves, parsley, pepper flake and oil-cured lemon peel. The oil cured lemon peel was made by tossing lemon slices with olive oil and salt then roasting wrapped in foil until soft. The result is similar to Moroccan preserved lemon peel.
Thursday, May 06, 2004
It is asparagus time. Although asparagus is available all year-round, I rarely eat it at other times of the year. Roasting or grilling is my favorite way to prepare asparagus. Wet cooking methods are fine also but I find that dry cooking concentrates the flavor and heightens the sweetness and nuttiness of the vegetable. Asparagus soup is an idea that has always appealed to me; however, I have not had one that has satisfied me. The ones I have had were cream based and the result was a green bowl of cream.
What do I want from an asparagus soup? Mainly I want it to taste like asparagus. It seemed that the cream based versions I had used the asparagus for color only. It should be slightly thick. I want to capture the creaminess of asparagus without the fibers. Potato seemed right since it is rather neutral in flavor and would add body. One of my favorite preparations of asparagus is pasta with roasted asparagus, roasted tomatoes, toasted almonds, lemon zest and parmesan. Since this was my first attempt at asparagus soup I wanted to keep it simple so I limited the ingredients to asparagus, onion, and potato and parmesan rind. I sweated the onion, asparagus and potato in olive oil then covered the vegetables with chicken stock and added the parmesan rind. While the pot simmered I considered the best method to puree the mixture. I chose the food mill since I was afraid the blender or food processor might make the potatoes gluey. Running the asparagus through the food mill revealed how much fiber is in asparagus. The result was a little thinner than I wanted so I added a little beurre manie along with the reserved asparagus tips.
The final product was good but still has room for improvement. The texture was slightly gritty. I think I might blend and strain next time. The flavor was good but the best bites were definitely the ones that included an asparagus tip. Which begs the question, if straight asparagus tastes better than the soup, why bother? I had some cold the next day and I think the flavor improved but I also experienced palate fatigue rather quickly. The pasta dish I described is still better. I like the nutty sweetness added by the roasted tomatoes but I don't like the idea of adding them to an asparagus soup because of what it would do to the color. Maybe if used was a garnish along with toasted slivered almonds, lemon zest. Hmm?
Friday, April 30, 2004