There are days, weeks even, where our food is less than inspired looking. It may taste great, be easy to cook, and all sorts of wonderful things, but it remains less that photogenic. Alas, alas, our amateur photography does not help, and the food remains flat and bland.
Then there are those foods that make everything worthwhile. When you catch your breath because the produce is just so beautiful, you wonder if you can eat it. These are the little things that make eating locally such a joy, andnot a chore. Farmers markets are always gleaming with the most picturesque produce, a far cry from the plasticky feel of some grocery stores. Tomatoes are so much more than perfect red orbs, lettuce can be so much better than lifeless iceberg, and carrots can be more than an orange root vegetable.
It’s sexy, so lush and rich. The color of royalty, mysticism and individuality.
The whole shredded salad was an almost sinful shade of purple. To complement the lush purple of our carrots, we dipped into our fresh young turmeric from Old Friends Farm. Handsome plants, with yellow-tinged tubers and large tropical leaves, these young plants can be used in a number of ways.
The tuber part can be used similar to ginger, and imparts a definite turmeric flavor that is slow to come forward, but lingers for a while, slightly spicy and floral, pungent. The leaves can be used in a number of ways, but should not be eaten. Tonight we are going to experiment with the leaves, so come back to learn more! Last night, we made a lovely turmeric-spelt pilaf, brilliantly yellow and delectable.
A soup was put together as well, with Bok Choy and lemon grass, carrot and turnip. Hot, filling and mellow, it was a great palate cleanser between the intensity of the Daikon-Carrot Salad, the fresh turmeric and the spicy burdock.
The final component of our meal was a little less colorful, but no less attractive. Rough and earthy, burdock roots are crisp, lightly flavored and very filling. sautéed in oil, with a touch of soy sauce and a good shake of red pepper flakes at the end, these delicious roots stood very well next to our flashier dishes, bringing heat to balance out the vinegar of the salad and the light bite of turmeric.
The whole meal was really good. I have one tiny-tiny thing I would change. A touch more salt. Our kitchen gets pretty humid from cooking steam, which makes our salt grinder clog and slow. Laura has a usually set number of grinds that go into a pot, and we have been getting less salt in our food. The soup was perfectly salty, the pilaf could have used a bit more. It is such a small thing, though, I can’t really complain. How can I with such a good spread of food?
Dessert was decadent, while still easy. We have some half-and-half floating around in the fridge, which needs to be used. Laura had been craving hot chocolate (not hot cocoa, liquid chocolate in a cup). Chocolate, cherries and cognac… mmmm.
The chocolate cream is easy, just a fluid ganache where there is a little more cream than chocolate, so that it stays soft and spoonable. The cherries were carmelized with a little brown sugar in a cast-iron skillet. When hot and sizzling, a splash of cognac was added to make a glaze of sorts. Cook for a moment to thicken, and serve in little custard cups, wine glasses or (in our case) tea cups. Delicious.