vendredi 14 octobre 2005

Red meat is my friend.

Anytime I have people over for dinner, the hardest thing for me is figuring out what to cook. I have no less than 100 recipes bookmarked as "to try" recipes, but when it comes time to actually choose what to make - ack! So many choices! So many things I want to make!

And then I inevitably end up making something that I ran across in a magazine or on a website. In other words, one that's not part of my "to try" recipe list. So I don't make a dent in the list, but who cares?

I had a friend over for dinner on Tuesday, and was inspired by the following recipe:

Before and after pictures of the soup.

A cauliflower-leek soup which I found on A Finger in Every Pie. I used to hate cauliflower, then in January I was in New York, where seemingly every meal I had incorporated cauliflower. And some damn good cauliflower. I still drool merely thinking of the Manchurian cauliflower dish at Devi. (This restaurant also had this spectacular drink called the Gin Petal, which had gin, lychee puree, rose water, and a touch of cream. I hate dairy-based cocktails, but ohmyGOD I can't even begin to tell you how good this drink was.) Then there was this other amazing cauliflower at Lupa; a variation on their recipe can be found here. (And at Lupa was this magnificent clementine cocktail with a touch of balsamic vinegar. It sounds weird, but you didn't really taste the vinegar; it merely tempered the sweetness of the clementine a little and added an interesting [in a good way] taste dimension. After three [or, um, four] of those, I was Drunk, with a capital D, which was good because the modern ballet we saw that night was definitely made better with alcohol.)

Anyway. So since then, I've been addicted to cauliflower. And when I saw the above recipe for a cauliflower-leek soup, I leapt on it. I'd only made soup once before (a hot and sour soup when I was still in high school), and always wanted to but was limited by the fact that I didn't have a large enough pot at school. But now I do, yippee!

Obviously, there were some small amendments to the recipe. I used regular Hungarian sweet paprika instead of the smoked, because I couldn't find the latter in my spice drawer, and I replaced the cayenne with chili powder (couldn't find the cayenne either). I didn't peel the potatoes because um, apparently I don't have a peeler. Instead of dill I used bouquet garni (I don't like dill that much, and the bouquet garni had a little but not too much). I also did not use the extra cream at the end.

And I was very very careful to only fill the blender halfway each round in pureeing, due to a rather unfortunate incident last fall where I attempted to blend hot liquids and ended up with mojito marinade all over my kitchen.

The soup is very good - I would like a more pronounced cauliflower flavour, but by its nature it's not the most potent of vegetables. I probably would have added more spices too, just a touch. Or maybe used the proper spices.

What I didn't realise was that I was going to have soup for months. MONTHS. Even after we had dinner, I still have two rather-large containers full of soup sitting in my fridge.

It's a good thing I like cauliflower that much.

One cannot live on soup alone, so I had to find something else to go with it. I flipped through old issues of Gourmet, and eventually landed upon this one for rib-eye steak with warm tomato corn salad. Ahh, I LOVE red meat. If you want to discuss the theory where what one eats during one's pregnancy influences a child's later tastes, apparently my mother had a steak almost every night while she was carrying me, because she craved it so much. Now, if I don't have red meat at least twice a week, I will die. Okay, not literally, but I get cravings for steak and hamburgers like you wouldn't imagine. (With my sister, my mom was sick almost the entire pregnancy. My sister has a very weak immune system. Another correlation, perhaps?)

The only change I made here was to cook the meat less than they recommended, because I like my meat as rare as I can get it without it being bloody, and to use an Anaheim pepper because I don't know what an Italian frying pepper is. (I suppose I could have googled it, but I was at the market and thus was not in front of my computer.)

Mm. Steak. It almost looks like seared tuna in this picture.

Unfortunately, I still don't have a damn dining room table yet (can't find something in a dark enough wood that appeals), so we had to eat at my coffee table. But what does it matter? Good company trumps unconventional seating arrangements, and besides, it's more congenial, in a sense, to be sitting on the floor while eating.

(It also allows you to lie down more conveniently when you've eaten too much.)