Wednesday, July 12, 2017

An Unexpected Celebrity Couple

  • Ronzoni's Garden Delight Veggie Tricolor Penne Rigate, cooked al dente with a little sea salt in the water
  • Chipotle black bean burger
  • Sautéed:
    • Kale
    • Swiss chard
    • Tomatoes
    • Olive oil
    • Sea salt
    • Garlic
  • Garnish:
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Bronze fennel leaves
The pumpkin seeds and bronze fennel leaves were the unexpected celebrity couple in this dish. I added the fennel to compliment the spice of the black bean burger. I find that the warmth of the fennel calms my palette. I added the pumpkin seeds because I thought their crunch would hit it off with the pasta. I first had nuts in pasta in a pesto pasta dish, in which the chef added slivered almonds. I didn't know I had been waiting for a crunch with my pasta until it was right in front of me. Even though the pumpkin seeds got along well with the pasta, and the fennel liked the burger, it was the pumpkin seeds and the fennel that sent sparks flying. Their flavors blended as if they were the same ingredient. The more neutral pumpkin seeds were brought to life by the fennel leaves, as if finishing the sentence that the pumpkin seeds started. A match made in heaven.

What was it about the flavor profiles of these two ingredients that made them pair so well together? I did some research. In an in-depth explanation of staple kitchen spices and their uses, a website called "Adventures in Spice" explains that fennel is used in curry powder, which supports my instinct to pair it with the spicy black bean burger. It also combines well with garlic and tomatoes, further connecting it with other ingredients in my dish. What about pumpkin though? Interestingly, although fennel isn't linked with pumpkin, anise is. "Adventures in Spice" writes that fennel is "reminiscent of anise but sweeter and less pungent." Anise and fennel both taste like licorice and have a warm flavor. It makes sense to me, then, that fennel would also pair well with pumpkin. The more you know! 

Overall, this was a really tasty meal. Each bite was different, thus avoiding what people at work describe as "palette fatigue." It's difficult to figure out how to feature all the flavors individually and together. I've found that if I layer the ingredients in the dish instead of mixing them, I can mix and match them with each bite. This provides me with a more varied eating experience. Yum! 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Whipped Cream Sunset

This dessert is inspired by a Lemon Curd dessert served at the place I work at, Sunbird Kitchen in Orleans, MA. The plating is different (Sunbird serves theirs on a flat plate instead of a bowl), and whipped cream in my dish replaces the lemon curd base in theirs. The ingredient pairings are all Sunbird-inspired though. Mixed in with the whipped cream are fresh and melted frozen blueberries. I melted the frozen blueberries mainly so I could get the juice, but it also adds a fun temperature contrast. Sprinkled on top of those are crumbled lemon wafer cookies. The dish is garnished with fresh lemon zest and thyme (Sunbird uses thyme oil in their dessert). Next time I would also sprinkle coarse sea salt on top to liven it up. I finished the dish by wedging a whole lemon cookie on the side of the bowl. I learned that it's important to add the whole cookie last, or else it will soak up the blueberry juice and turn soggy and blue. Soggy and blue isn't great for initial presentation, but once the dish is served it's fun to eat the cookie last because as the cookie soaks up the juice, it looks like a sun setting over water. 

Serve with a spoon and enjoy with a "Pocket Full of Sunshine." 

Whipped Cream Sunset

  • 4-5 heaping tbsp of homemade whipped cream (heavy whipping cream, vanilla and cane sugar to taste) 
  • Handful of fresh blueberries
  • Handful of frozen blueberries (melted in microwave for 40 seconds)
  • 3-4 lemon wafer cookies (2-3 crumbled, 1 whole)
  • Lemon zest
  • Fresh thyme

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Leaving One Home for Another

Home is crafted out of construction paper and Christmas lights. 

Sometimes, it's made out of necessity. Going into this school year, my college roommate and I were determined to make our room "homey." Freshman year, we both missed the comfort of going home to someone we could talk to at the end of the day. We wanted our room this year to be cozy and warm. We've filled our room with crafts and notes and it's a place that we both enjoy hanging out in. 

Home is in Starbucks, when I'm sitting next to my best friend.

If I were to go to this same Starbucks without my friend Liv, it wouldn't feel like home to me. But on this day, it did, because we hadn't seen each other in months and she was heading off to Ireland for the spring semester. Home was unpacked and repacked in 45 minutes.

Home is Nauset Beach, with the ocean dissolving the snow like cappuccino foam.

This home was formed over four summers of working, living, and swimming in Cape Cod. I gained my independence here. Its salt water buoyed me through the summer before my freshman year of college. It's the water I bottled up and took with me to my dorm room. It's the home that helped me find new homes. 

I think part of growing up is not just about leaving home, but finding new ones. These past few weeks have made me think a lot about the concept of home. I was "home" in the house I grew up in, with my family and childhood friends. I'm home in Cape Cod now, with my co-workers from the summer and the beach. I leave to go back to Denison University later this week. All of these are home for different reasons. My childhood home offers the comfort of high school friends, my cat, and homemade cooking. Cape Cod has salt air, open skies, and fresh mussels. Denison is stimulating with its lectures, theater productions, and class discussions. All of these homes offer a loving and supportive community.

The more I travel between these three homes, the less disruptive it is every time. I can appreciate what each home has to offer. Like I was excited to come home to Massachusetts and rest for the holidays, I'm equally excited to go back to Denison and start my classes and rehearsals for our winter musical, Sweeney Todd. I'm grateful to now have a community at Denison that I miss and look forward to seeing. I'm leaving one home and going to another, and I feel so blessed to be able to say that.