Sunday, March 18, 2012

Food on Film

I've worked in plenty of restaurants, but always in the front of the house. None of them were spectacular places by any means but it always struck me, for as much as I love and am so inspired by movies revolving around fabulous food and misunderstood chefs and that scrappy restaurant that could, I have absolutely no interest to be in the back of the house. It's funny though because people always tell me "Oh you should've been a chef" or "Do you ever think about opening a place." No and no and absolutely no regrets or what-ifs. And it makes me wonder if those people telling me these things have ever even stepped foot in the back of a restaurant. Maybe that's the general thought, by everyone who has never been "hey mami'd" 20 times a night (and usually worse) or was screamed bloody murder at for being 5 minutes late dropping off a plate... that it's just like in the movies.

Loving to cook is only one tiny piece of the puzzle that makes up a good chef, much less a great one. It's not pretty and by no means glamorous. And it was never the lifestyle for me. Even running to the dry pantry to grab supplies or to pick up food being expedited, I knew I was not meant for that back of the house world. But I love watching the pretty, Hollywood-ness on film. It may not be my calling in life and I may know from the start that it's far from reality, but I can content myself with film. And something about watching these movies, seeing these passions play out, well that's inspiration enough. So it got me thinking about my most inspiring food movies. Here are a few:

Friday, March 16, 2012

Lamb with Roasted Jalapeno Harissa and Pearled Couscous

These days have been flying by, in a way that will never fail to amaze me. I didn't really connect that it was the middle of March until this morning, as I belatedly changed my clock radio for daylight savings and saw the date flashing as well, March 16th. The weather lately has seemed like an amazing gift, but in no way had I wrapped my head around the fact that spring was fast on my heels. But here we are, and I find more and more that instead of talking myself into embracing a day, I'm just rushed along into it and in a way that makes time just fly. And that's ok. That's the way spring should be.
Lamb is such a spring meal and with the shift in weather I've felt a shift in my taste buds as well. Roasts and stews and anything heavy or fatty is out. I'm craving salads, Mediterranean flavors, crispy veggies and puckery lemon. Cold hard cheeses like ricotta salata  and feta or chiffonade mint sprinkled over some pearl couscous with just a drizzle of olive oil and maybe a slab of grilled zucchini or eggplant. Perfection. But right now this is about lamb. And a delicious harissa.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Turkey Sausage and Collard Greens over Horseradish Polenta

Healthy, easy, fast. The theme of my meals thus far in 2012. I mentioned in my previous post that my most frequent go-to dinner lately was a poultry sausage of some kind, a green and a carb. Pretty basic. But then you jazz it up a little with a pretty spectacular turkey sausage with wild mushrooms and cognac, some quickly sauteed collards and garlic and then an amazing horseradish polenta and you have my meal tonight, in under 30 minutes from prep to plating.
I love chicken or turkey sausage mainly because it's pre-cooked and packed with flavor. Not that cooking an uncooked sausage or a chicken breast, for that matter, would take that long but it really does make all the difference. It's also great for portion control and keeping groceries within the budget... 1 link is perfect for dinner for me, and then I have 3 or 4 left for another night. And the green could really be anything. Collards, kale, broccoli... you name it and it'll more than likely work. But I particularly love how sauteed collards have a great texture that works so well with a creamy carb and a rich turkey link. The true piece that sets this meal apart and above though is the horseradish polenta. Just potent and spicy enough to provide a great punch of flavor and horseradish over say cheese or cream keeps it a lightweight base.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Caramelized Mustard Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

Blogging has been near impossible lately. I can blame it on any number of things but mostly it stems from just the very basic human need to just eat and forgo the whole archiving of the meal which blogging necessitates. Also I've been making a lot of my "safe" meals, things I can put together in just a few minutes, or some half-hearted "homemade" meals, the type using pre-made chicken sausage with veggies and a carb. Nothing special, certainly nothing blog worthy. So tonight I decided to keep it simple, but interesting. Enter Brussels sprouts, which for any normal person this would be a great side. But after a long day at work, and then running around my apartment the minute I got home with cleaning, laundry, entertaining a kitty and then wanting to be on the couch by 8pm for my Bachelor night (ugh, but true), well a warm salad sounded perfect.
And I loved this combination. Tangy and sweet, a little crunchy and smokey... it was another mostly me throwing things  together I thought would work to create a pretty damn good dish. And while I love the perfect marriage of Brussels sprouts and bacon, the bacon isn't completely necessary, for any vegetarian or weight watching friends out there. There's already so much flavor, it's just one more layer. But the absolute best thing was how quickly it came together. Not even 10 minutes prep, then 15 minutes on the stove and then that's it, dinner is done. My kind of Monday night (or let's be honest, any week night) meal.


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