'Twas a grey, rainy, fried shallot and fried garlic kind of afternoon...
Rice Noodle Salad with Fennel and Herbs
Nota bene: As far as I'm concerned, this dish solely exists as a vehicle for fried garlic and shallots. But if it's just absolutely not possible to make these magical golden crisps, add toasted cashews and/or peanuts instead (to give it some savory crunch).
Garlic, shaved/thinly sliced
Shallots, shaved/thinly sliced
Rice vermicelli, cooked
Loads o' herbs (cilantro, basil and mint), roughly chopped
Fried garlic and fried shallots*
Make the fried garlic and shallots: In two saucepans or frying pans, heat 3/4 inch of oil over medium heat. Test the oil by dropping in a sliver of garlic and shallot -- if it immediately sizzles, you're ready to roll. Add garlic to one pan and shallots to the other, give both a stir, and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle sizzle, until the alliums turn golden-brown -- 3-4 minutes for the garlic and 15-20 minutes for the shallot. Drain through a strainer (save the oil -- it's full of flava!) and immediately turn onto a paper towel, spreading into a single layer, to dry.
In a small bowl, stir together the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and Sriracha. In a large bowl, toss the vermicelli with the fennel and oodles of herbs. Dress the vermicelli with the vinaigrette and a handful of fried garlic and shallot, and toss to combine. Sprinkle more crispy bits on top, grab yer chopsticks, and go!
*Store whatever you don't use in an airtight container in a cool, dry place (not the fridge!); they'll keep for two or three days.
Fact: Greens and booze make any meal (after 10:30 a.m.) better.
Problem: It's noon and your afternoon is filled with important meetings.
Solution: Put the booze IN the greens. Devour. Conquer world.*
I like a good splash of red wine in my tomato sauce -- it adds a dark fruitiness to tomato's bright, savory acidity. Pickled chilies bring tangy, persistent heat (but dried chile flakes and a splash of balsamic could certainly act as substitutes). This is a lunchtime go-to when a big bowl of pasta is calling my name, but the rational "eat more greens! and also your tight jeans are feeling too tight" angel on the shoulder prevails. Dress it for dinner with a topping of roasted fish (cod would be lovely) -- or a tangle of hearty pasta, like rigatoni, orecchiette or pappardelle.
*...or at least don't slur words and/or awkwardly over-share in interview.
Makes a solid lunch-sized serving
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 small garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon pickled chilies, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
A good splash (2 tablespoons or so) of red wine (or whatever color wine you have sitting open in the fridge)
½ bunch hearty greens, like lacinato kale and Swiss chard, sliced into ribbons (about 2 loosely packed cups)
Salt and black pepper
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent and the garlic is lightly gold, about 2 minutes. Add the chilies and tomato paste, give a stir, and cook for another minute or so. Add the wine, crank up the heat to medium-high, and let it bubble away, stirring occasionally. When it's mostly reduced, add the greens and stir until thoroughly wilted. Season with a good sprinkle of sea salt and a few turns of the pepper grinder, tip into a bowl, and shower with shaved Parmesan.
We ate 20 courses, we drank local herb and root tisanes, and then we hit the pond. Midnight fishing at Fäviken, as (casually) told to Yahoo Food...
Eating, cooking and design: This subject is RICH. Head-spinningly so. The relationship of this inseparable trio has evolved over the course of millennia, from the earliest molcajetes to the latest immersion circulators; from neolithic Japanese pottery to Crucial Detail; from the ornate cuisine of early Imperial China to the architectural grande cuisine of Marie-Antoine Carême, and the edible landscapes of Rene Redzepi & Co. (those veer into the territory of art, I suppose, but are part of the subject's topography).
A friend is in the early stages of curating an exhibit on the subject for the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, to launch in 2016. At lunch today, over a spread of un-artful but wholly delicious Turkish mezze, we considered the many intersections of culinary and design arts -- the role ceramics plays in a traditional Kaiseki meal, Homaro Cantu's polymer ovens, the movement from vertical to horizontal plating in high-end cuisine, to name a few. A rather excellent way to spend an hour and a half.
At the moment, the genre is racing as though in fast-forward, driven by diverse motives -- artistic, practical, humanitarian. Last week's New York Times article highlights parts of that momentum, citing a handful of creative minds working under the expansive umbrella of food + design. It doesn't touch the subject of art and design on the plate, but another NYT article from last fall, "The Ceramic Canvas," culled visual evidence that the distance between a dinner table and a MoMA gallery is ever-shrinking. And then there's the wild and creative world of package design...
I returned home and pulled a few related favorites off the shelf. Should you want to investigate offline, with book in hand, these are four titles to mine for food-design creativity, from the past, present and into the future: Menu Design in America, Inspired Shapes, Create: Eating, Design and Future Food and Eating Architecture.