Monday, September 3, 2012

Dinner

This is dinner for day one. Talk about a three course meal--this was a huge amount of food! I made a Balsamic Pear Salad, Caldo Verde, and Fettuccine with Asparagus, Peas, & Lemon.

Day One Dinner

I almost didn't make everything that the book had listed, but decided to stick to the plan as closely as possible. Whereas my earlier meals were fairly simply, I basically destroyed the kitchen while making all this. Flipping through the upcoming menus, I notice that everything is quite a bit simpler than this, and it makes me wonder if they tried to be impressive on the very first day and took it a little over the top. Either way, I'm glad there are no more "feasts" in my immediate future.

Admittedly, I didn't really like any of theses three dishes. I started off making the Caldo Verde, which I believe is supposed to be a Portuguese version of Zuppa Toscana. This is not what it turned out like...

Looks pretty good so far...

I think a lot of the reason for this was human error. The recipe said to blend the potatoes to get a puree. All I had was Carla's little food processor, and the bottom came unscrewed while I was blending. All of the boiling hot liquid pour out (all over my book). So after this point, it wasn't really soup anymore. It was more like mushed onion and potato baby food. Yuck.

Caldo Verde

The recipe called for half a bunch of kale, which I think ended up being a little too much. Also, it called for soy chorizo or another vegetable-based sausage. The only kind I could find in Krogers that was vegan was a brand called Gimme Lean, which was basically chunky refried beans in a chub. Following the instructions carefully (and against my better judgement), I just plopped some of that in at the end and tried to break it up with the spoon. Bad idea. I would make this again, but with some serious alterations. I would have sauteed the onions and garlic first, used vegetable stock, diced the kale finer, made sure there was a lot more liquid, and IF I decided to use the veggie sausage again, I would cook it and crumble it in a separate pan first. This recipe was edible, but just barely.

Next was the fettuccine. This one sounded promising to me, though I was confused about what I was supposed to dress the noodles with. As it turns out, nothing. Also a bad (and very sticky) idea.

Fettuccine with Asparagus, Peas, & Lemon

The asparagus was to be tossed in a garlic lemon sauce before grilling, but once they were on the grill that sauce evaporated and the asparagus got very dry. The pasta also had a bunch of chopped parsley in it. The only variety of parsley I could find at Krogers looked very odd to me, but it was that or nothing so I bought it. It was a flat-leaf variety, and it turned out to be bitter and spicy and overly aromatic. It pretty much ruined whatever goodness would have been in the dish to begin with. The noodles were sticky and flavorless so I squeezed the juice of one lemon over them, which was actually quite nice. I ended up eating these with my fingers and picking bits of parsley off of the noodles and my tongue as I went along. Less than an awesome experience, to say the least. If I were to make this again I would have steamed the asparagus and peas in the oven in aluminum foil with the garlic lemon mixture. I would have poured the entire packet on top of the freshly drained noodles, and then used some normal parsley to top it off. This recipe has potential, but it needs some major changes.

Lastly but not least (well, actually yes, least) is the salad. It is comprised of arugula, Bartlett pear, radish, and a red wine vinegar reduction.

 
Balsamic Pear Salad
 
I really like fruit on my salads so I thought for sure this one would be a winner. I was wrong. Have you ever had raw arugula? It is awful. It was so bitter that it actually induced an involuntary gag reflex when it got to the back of my throat. There was only one brand at the store, which looked less than stellar, so maybe the quality was the problem. Either way, I took only one bite before pushing it away. I ended up picking the pears and radishes off the top and eating those. The dressing was lovely though, I must say. The recipe called for balsamic vinegar, but all I had was red wine vinegar. I put some in a pan and let it reduce until it was a little thicker, and then drizzled that over the salad. I will definitely be using the vinaigrette recipe again.
 
 
Three strikes, your out. It was a little disappointing, especially after all the effort it took to cook it, but it is okay really. Dr. Barnard says that if you don't get the occasional dud then you are not experimenting enough. We'll just chalk this up to a valuable culinary learning experience.

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