I’ve been patiently waiting to publish this post.
Some things, good things, take time to reach their optimum level of perfection.
This would be one such thing.
Vinegars take time to age & mature. You can’t just dump ingredients into water & expect it to become miraculous over night. The microbes & magic need their time to work, & they really do take their slow, sweet, leisurely time!
I can tell you how this all came about though. Mel & I have been hired over at a boutique hotel on our island (Syros) to be the amazing in house chefs. I’ve got the morning shift, serving up breakfast, brunch & pastries… & Mel is on dinner & cocktail duty. Seriously, we’re the magnificent cooking duo & we got hired as a team!
Can you tell I’m stoked?
Any way, in the process of designing the menu (all food items were done by a michelin-star chef, all cocktails & desserts will be by Mel & I) the chef designing the menu asked me to whip up a pear vinegar to be incorporated into the menu….
So here it is. The fruits of my labor (so to speak).
We are at an important junction in our life… we have decided to leave the busy city in favor of a peaceful island. While the pros and cons are a matter of huge discussions, I can tell you some things that are true no matter which way you look at them.
The direct connection with nature is the most calming and fulfilling aspect of island life and really balances your mind. For example rain is no longer viewed as something that will create traffic, ruin your designer shoes or make life on your scooter hell, but rather a godsend gift that will water the plants and vegetables you are growing, soften the soil and fill the water tank. Not to mention the amazing smell that fills the air after a storm. Another aspect is that you are a part of your food’s long jurney way before it gets to the shop. The hard work it takes to grow vegetables without any chemicals or machines. Makes you think what do they really put into the ones they sell so cheap…….?
Our neighbour grows a lot of produce and the other day he brought us a basket filled with the most cute and colorful bell peppers… normal, natural sized, not the melon sized things they try to pass for peppers at some shops. I wanted to use all of the basket before they went bad but there is a limit to how many peppers you can eat raw in a salad, so I made this dip and I guarantee you can eat it all easily and wonder how a kilo of peppers went into you so effortlessly.
Every job no matter how exciting, has a dull repetitive aspect that can be unavoidable. Some stack dominoes for months on end in order to experience less than a minute of amazingness. Others lay a thousand bricks before they see a building come to life.
We (the recipients) are all very grateful they went through the motions when we see the end result and we thank them.
In cooking, it’s the hours of prep, and the most fundamental is chopping. It’s cool to wield a super sharp blade for a short while & pretend you’re a ninja, but after onion number 53 has been peeled & diced, your mind has switched off and your hands move on auto-pilot. This is where accidents happen & fingertips go missing….
Other tedious activities include peeling cherry tomatoes and gutting slimy calamari.
Personally, I love chopping carrots really finely because they have that clean crisp cut that you can work with a lot of speed. Keep me away from the garlic cloves however.
Today’s task is cleaning those stubborn chestnuts, and in particular, peeling off the fuzzy second layer that is not pleasant to eat. I haven’t got a good tip to give you here other than a lot of patience goes a long way. It seems that there are some varieties out there where that fuzz just peels right off but, I can’t recognise them easily. Apart from that we have a straightforward lentil soup that will keep you warm, full and healthy during cold winter days.
Ahhh… back to our favorite combination, cheese & a starch. Before we went gluten free, I had a favorite italian pasta place I used to eat at where I always ordered the same ravioli dish time & again. It had an amazing cheese & lemon filling, with thyme & a creamy sauce. However the place fell victim of the curse that seems to be plaguing me… the very same curse that is causing all my favorite places to close down. I need to stop picking favorites it would seem.
…I don’t want to get into making homemade ravioli with gluten free flours just yet, I’m lazy & it’s going to take a lot of experimenting. So I’ve taken a different approach to get a similar result & this is what I came up with.
While I was writing this recipe, I was getting that feeling of deja vu… A quick look to our recipe archives and the feeling was confirmed… apparently we like to stuff things. Vine leaves, pumpkins, peppers you name it… Lauren even stuffed a cookie inside of another cookie!
That sounds strange but anyhow we specialize in stuffing as it seems. Maybe we should call ourselves “Whatever’s Stuffed” or “We Stuff Everything” or something along those lines.
This recipe is essentially a steak with caramelized onion and a side of basmati rice… but all conveniently packed in one nice little package ideal for easily feeding many. Enjoy and stuff you next week.. erm I mean see you next week…