Thursday, February 26, 2009

a bit of experimentation

how did the week go by so quickly?

it is difficult to believe that the last time i posted to the blog was on monday. i've been trying to make progress on a couple of projects this week. i've completed one and am working toward completing a solid draft of my presentation before the weekend. it looks like JS is going to be in town, and it would be great not to stress out about the status of my latest presentation series when i see him.

it hasn't been all work work work this week though. i am still attempting for some better balance between work and well, the rest of my life. the best friend came over for dinner on tuesday, which allowed me to experiment a bit. one of the dishes i made was a variation of the mark bittman olive and orange salad....which he in turn obtained from la zucca magica. for bittman's receipe go here. i didn't follow the receipe though...and used the core ingredients (navel oranges, thyme, olives, olive oil, and fennel seeds) as inspiration.

i decided to make my variation to include minneola tangelo, blood oranges, nicose olives, lemon thyme, kalamata olive oil, and roasted fennel seeds. why? partly because ...this was the citrus and type of olives that i had on hand...and i thought that the lemon thyme would be a decent complement.....and was curious how introducing a smoky flavor to the fennel would impact the salad. this is one of the reasons why i love cooking....to be inspired by something and make it your own based on what you already have in your kitchen. also, as the best friend is a pretty adventurous eater, i knew she would be up for trying it.

so i prepped a large tangerine and the blood oranges....so pretty aren't they?


then made the olive mixture by chopping up some pitted nicose olives and mixing it with some of the lemon thyme and olive oil....

and then plated it....and then added a light sprinkling of roasted fennel seeds....

as the best friend put it "this is not a salad for everyone"....which is extremely true. it is a mixture of tart, sweet, and savory. i enjoyed it...yet it is very different. the tartness from the citrus and the smoothness of the olives pairs nicely. the roasted fennel is a completely unexpected flavor. the best friend enjoyed the roasted fennel with the tangerine quite a bit. i thought that the roasted fennel adds an almost another level of savory or even a "meaty" component to the salad....in a good way.

the other experiment of the evening was new to me...but not necessary new to many other people. for the dinner on tuesday, i decided to finish the meal with a cheese plate. yet, an upgraded cheese plate....i wanted some nice accompaniments with a trio of runny soft goat and sheep milk cheeses i had picked out. i wanted to add some marconda almonds, cherry conserve, and dried figs soaked in sherry. the figs soaked in sherry was the "new to me" experiment.

earlier that afternoon, i cut up some dried figs....

and poured a bit of my newly purchased bottle of sherry.....



this ended up soaking for at least 4 hours....this is some heady stuff.

the fruit was ready after we finished the salad and our main course of fresh buckwheat pasta with puttanesca sauce. i don't have a picture of the final plated cheese plate from tuesday evening, but lets just say that it was a great way to end the meal. if you have a chance to soak dried fruit in sherry for a cheese plate, i would highly recommend it. in fact, i liked it so much on tuesday, that i tried it again and am eating it right now for dinner.

this time though, i soaked medjool dates and figs in the sherry and added a bit of minneola zest (i keep the peel for my hot chocolate in the morning and for improv moments like this).

as i had a feeling that i was going to blog tonight and didn't want to consume sherry or wine so early, i plated everything this afternoon....took some photos.....


and then put it back in the fridge to enjoy later. it is quite lovely for a meal within itself. it is quite nice when a bit of experimentation actually turns out ok.

2 comments:

Victoria said...

You know what the best thing was, too? That meal was filling when we ate it but absolutely not heavy. Yummy.

foodie hunter said...

Very true!