Market Menu Surprise

2010.Jun.08 Tuesday · 8 comments

in Casa SaltShaker, Food & Recipes

“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.”

– Boris Pasternak, Russian poet

A fun little weekend past with both public and private dinners, first the latter. A group in from Chicago who pretty much left things in my hands… “no Scallops(allergy), Mushrooms (dislike immensely), Cheetos, twinkies, egg salads, eel, frog legs, potato chip casseroles, deep fried pickles, kidneys, brains, sweetbreads (scary parts) we try and avoid.”… damn, there went my offal, deep fried pickle and twinkie casserole with crumbled potato chips and cheetos atop. And I was all set to unleash it on the world.

Course one, no good photo, but you’ve seen before – olive oil poached trout with romesco sauce and shaved avocado. I really like this dish when I can get good, fresh trout!

Fennel Soup

Further tweaking on this dish, fennel soup with falafel – the broth base the whey from making ricotta for the next course, packed with lots of chopped fresh fennel bulbs, white onion and leeks, celery, and a potato for body, simple seasoning – salt, white pepper – pureed, but not strained to keep some texture in it – served with a couple of just fried up falafel and some crispy leeks.

BBQ Chicken Empanada

A well-packed empanada with finely chopped sauteed chicken, pequin chilies (here referred to as putapario – literally “whore’s offspring”, or in more polite company, ají de la malapalabra, the curse-word chili), swiss chard, roasted peppers, and homemade ricotta. Below, a swipe of a bourbon based barbecue sauce that I came up with for one of our recent cooking classes.

Chimichurri Pork Chop

The whole chimichurri thing seems to have taken the foodie world, particularly in the U.S., by storm. Now, there are different opinions, but here’s the general take on it from local friends – first off, the sauce is a red sauce, based on red bell pepper, tomato, and red wine vinegar along with lots of garlic and herbs – here’s my recipe – the “green” chimichurri that seems to be all the rage and is little more than vinegar, oil, garlic and parsley, is something that here is used primarily on fish, chicken, and vegetables – not on red meat, and some folk don’t even call it chimichurri, but “provencal”, or garlic-parsley sauce. Second, it’s not usually used as a marinade – that’s not to say it can’t be, it’s simply not in general – steaks here are salted, perhaps a little pepper, and then grilled – it’s about the meat, not about a sauce. Third, following on that, it’s not usually used as a steak sauce, it’s used as a condiment to the other stuff – sausages, offal, etc., that come as part of a mixed grill here. All that said, people do what they want and there are a zillion recipes for chimichurri, and I’ve seen it as a marinade, I’ve seen different colors, and whatever else you might think of. Here, I marinated pork chops in mine for several hours, broiled them, spooned more sauce over them, and served them over caramelized shallot risotto that was finished with grated romano cheese.

Poached Pear Financier

Another take on last week’s financiers, this time with pears that were poached in bourbon and vanilla syrup and then drizzled with a red wine and chocolate reduction.


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

David June 8, 2010 at 11:15

“damn, there went my offal, deep fried pickle and twinkie casserole with crumbled potato chips and cheetos atop. And I was all set to unleash it on the world.”
You should send that mix as a suggestion to “Chopped”.

dan June 8, 2010 at 14:46

Not until I’ve unleashed it!

dan June 9, 2010 at 09:01

I’d like to think, given his mention in the post, that I helped prompt Mark to write-up this chimichurri myth debunking. Even if not, it’s worth a read for anyone who thinks they know what the sauce is all about, and all the rest of you too: Chimichurri: Debunking the Myths

Ken Sternberg June 9, 2010 at 10:10

Too bad about their picky palates, Dan. I was thnking deep fried twinkies.

dan June 9, 2010 at 15:59

I was wondering where you’d disappeared to – it’s been a long time since you commented!

Forager June 14, 2010 at 09:08

Ah, I’ve only ever had the green chimichurri (my favourite version so far involves jalapeno peppers too). Never had the red version served to us anywhere before, but I’m keen to try your recipe as we love the stuff.

dan June 14, 2010 at 09:27

I guess that’s part of my point. Chimichurri doesn’t have things like jalapeños in it, and also the red is pretty much what you get here in Argentina where it’s from, the green is much rarer to find – or actually, I should say, if you ask for chimichurri, it’s much rarer to get. While I’m not someone who subscribes to a “there’s only one way to make this sauce” kind of approach to cooking, at all, calling a spicy chili sauce chimichurri here (and particularly the green version, which is usually little more than parsley and garlic in oil and vinegar) makes as much sense as ketchup made of cherries because they happen to be red and round too. You can do it and call it what you like, of course, but it’s a different sauce, and I think that for folks who don’t live here, it’s worth knowing what the “real” stuff is and tastes like.

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