Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mojo Paste, Rolled Oat Cookies and Squeezing Onions: The Cookbook Challenge Rocks My World

Every now and then, I get dinner completely right and every course is a success. This latest episode of the Cookbook Challenge was one of those pristine moments. I was literally digging into my food with one hand and waving Hallelujah with the other....I was that pleased. Allow me to tell you about it...

The salad was a recipe from Italian master Marcella Hazan's classic cookbook Marcella Says. The ingredients were sparse and simple but the process was most intriguing; in particular, the prep of the red onion. The salad consists of red onion, avocado and red pepper. As she says, were she in Northern Italy in the spring, the sweet red onions made available would render this process unnecessary. Since it is a cold-ass afternoon in Cowtown, I apparently need to prep the red onion. As directed by Hazan, the red onion is diced and then plunged into a bowl of cold water. The onions are then removed and firmly squeezed by hand. The water is then changed out and the entire process is repeated 2-3 times. In order to master this myself, I had to use two bowls of cold water in order to change the water out. This seems like a lot of extra work but the end result is completely worth it. The onions are then left soaking while the red pepper and avocado are sliced. The juice of 1 fresh lemon is squeezed on to the avocado to keep it from browning. The onion is drained, squeezed dry with paper towels and added to the red pepper and avocado. A couple of tablespoons of choice red wine vinegar and four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil as well as a generous throw of sea salt and several cranks of fresh ground pepper and toss it up. Perfect summer salad...the onions are bright and sweet and become the unlikely highlight of the salad....these onions are real and they're spectacular.

The main course was the Funky Southwest Roasted Pork Tenderloin from Emeril's Potluck cookbook. As he says, the key to the burst of flavor in this dish is the Mojo Paste. Like the chimichurri sauce I made in a previous post, its one of those creations largely involving fresh herbs (cilantro the K-Man grew included) that doesn't taste like much at first and after it sat for a few hours and communed with the pork in the oven, it became a mighty condiment. This was some beautiful pork and it paired nicely with the avocado salad. You can catch Emeril's recipe with some different sides here.

We finished off the meal with some chocolate-oat cookies from the Cookies cookbook by Atkinson, Barrett and Farrow. I had to adjust some cooking times in between batches as our oven; that last vestige of Seventies-style appliances in our otherwise renovated kitchen, doesn't quite maintain heat to match the setting. None of the batches were sub-par though and we enjoyed them immensely.

It was a fantastic dinner.... an abundance of flavor. These dishes count as Cookbook Challenge # 56, 57 and 58.


Anonymous said...

YUMMMMMOOOOO!!!!!! Makes me want to have Kev make this!!!

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