Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bon Appetit Night

I went for a meal inspired by Bon Appetit magazine. I find that a lot of BA recipes have at least one ingredient that is a bit hard to find. This is in contrast to Gourmet (RIP) magazine recipes which always seemed to have at least one ingredient that was impossible to find. Well, maybe not impossible, just improbable unless you lived in LA or NY or somewhere with a large and diverse ethnic population so that you could go to a Persian market then an Ethiopian one, and perhaps a Morroccan, all in one day. We have a good mix of ethnicities in the greater Seattle area, but I'm not driving out to the 'burbs for one $20 an oz. ingredient.

When I first started reading BA, I read and ripped out recipes mostly for fun, not because I intended to make anything. Once I became familiar with the kitchen and that glorious notion of subsitution, I was able to dive into actually cooking from my subscription. I had a friend who was once beside herself because she couldn't find a species of apple called for in a salad. The grocer insisted that it was a variety found on the East Coast and she would never find it here. Well, she needed it for a recipe, or the recipe would not be made. I too was dumbfounded. Substi-what?

So, in the above salad, I substitued radish sprouts for pea shoots. I thought maybe they meant pea tendrils, but the treatment was to eat them raw and tendrils really need a little time over heat (I think). I didn't even look pea shoots up. I realize that this was the odd ingredient that would be expensive, so I subbed. Sprouts are so fun to buy. These came growing on a paper towel sponge, basically. I cut away the sprouts and tossed them in the salad. So fun. And so spicy for eensy-weensy greens.

Then I made a leek and bacon risotto with a poached egg on top. From this angle you can't tell how truly messed up the egg is. I do the whole vinegar thing in the water, but I am not convinced it does anything to ease poaching. I thought I would just fry the darn thing and avoid the inevitable screaming and gnashing of teeth that happen with a poaching attempt in my kitchen, but in the end I went for fun and nuance. This risotto is so good. I have tried a few risotto recipes and this one is a keeper, along with my mushroom risotto. All the rest aren't worth the effort. And now that I have tried so many, I have the method down pat. It's gratifying to know how to make something so seemingly complex.

I almost forgot! The salad was the debut of a couple things. First, it was my first time buying real English peas in the pod. Second, it was my first time shelling real English peas from the pod. Man, are they good. They are, shockingly, so different from frozen peas. Now I understand what the fuss is.

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