Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Friday, November 22, 2013

Balance of Textures, Flavors and Seasonings

Learning how to balance textures, flavor profiles and seasonings is a skill that is not integrated into one's life overnight. No, no. Rather, years of experience in both dining, as well as cooking aid in teaching the technicalities of a composed dish... not to mention an entire harmonious meal. All too often, I find myself experimenting in the kitchen... remaining cool, calm and collected to bystanders, yet having an internal dialogue of, "well... I hope this works!"

The point being: as a chef, it is essential to step out of your comfort zone and experiment. Now, I am not a proponent of experimenting during a scheduled dinner party; but rather, use "free" moments to step outside of the box and educated yourself hands-on with textures, spices, herbs and new produce.

Lighter Dinner...

First Course: Fresh arugula, shaved fennel and asparagus, blood orange supremes with roasted pistachios and balsamic reduction

Pistachios - roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F for 5-7 minutes; turning the baking sheet while roasting, to prevent the pistachios from burning.

Shaved fennel and asparagus - using a mandolin and/or peeler, carefully shave thin slices of both the fennel and asparagus. Since these two root veggies will not be cooked, the intention is to be sliced thin enough that they remain crunchy, though easy to chew. If the pieces are too thick, then the diner, regardless of how sophisticated he or she is, will resemble a cow trying to chew past the "woodsy" root veggie.

Not exactly what we are going for here, folks.

Blood orange supremes - I shall do a blog teaching you how to segment an orange in order to retrieve the supremes.

In a small bowl, combine the shaved fennel, asparagus, arugula, blood orange supremes and pistachios. Drizzle with pistachio oil, juice of 1/2 lemon, sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Presentation - In the middle of a white plate, carefully stack the salad mixture. Place a few of the orange supreme segments around the salad, then drizzle with reduced balsamic vinaigrette.

Second Course: Stuffed Dover sole with caramelized onions, spinach/kale, blood orange reduction and chickpea purée

Chickpea puree - Rinse canned chickpeas and dry with paper towel. Saute in walnut oil with smoky paprika, herbs de Provence and salt/pepper. Place in Vitamix/blender with juice of 1/2 lemon and blend until smooth.

Blood orange reduction - simply squeeze juice from 1 large blood orange and juice of 1/2 lemon. Place in saute pan and allow to reduce on the stove until a thick consistency.

Caramelized onions, spinach and kale - Saute on stove top with extra virgin olive oil, salt and touch of cayenne pepper. Once caramelized, add a mixture of spinach and kale (these will cook quickly, as they simply need to "wilt" and will retain the seasonings from the caramelized onions.

Dover Sole - a very delicate fish... I simply seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of lemon juice, then sauteed on the stove with walnut oil (only 1 minute each side, as it is a thin and delicate fish). Since I had "left-over" lobster stuffing from the amuse bouche (posted yesterday,) I simply spread that in the middle of the cooked fillet, then gently rolled the flaky fish into a delicate cylinder.

Presentation - Spoon a large dollop of the chickpea puree on the bottom the plate, then add the caramelized onion/spinach/kale mixture. Place the stuffed Dover sole atop the greens, then add micro greens to top off the fish and build volume. Drizzle the plate with the blood orange reduction.

"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist" - Albert Einstein


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