Sophisticated Savories

Sophisticated Savories

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Smokey curry carrot/ginger puree with seared salmon and pickled red bell pepper/tomato garnish

My mother made my own baby food when I was a child: natural ingredients free from preservatives, MSG and all other additives.  While the reaction to many is a jaw-drop or furrowed brow, stop and think about it for one minute.  Have you ever made your own soup?  Have you every blended vegetables to form a puree?  Have you ever made your own smoothie?

For many, the answer is yes.  The majority of baby foods is simply pureed vegetables.  So the next time that you sit down at a fine-dining restaurant and see a beautiful bright carrot puree artistically swiped across your edible plate of art, you may think to yourself... "I'm spending how much for this glorified baby food?"

I am only kidding, of course.  Well, to an extent.

The point is, pureed vegetables are a beautiful enhancement to a plethora of meals.  Rich in color and flavor, purees can also range in a variety of textures: chunky puree, smooth sauce, even a hearty soup.

Example: carrot/ginger puree

Essential nutrients in vegetables cannot withstand high temperatures for a long duration of time.  Ergo, the less time cooked, the better the vitamin and mineral retention.  

4 large carrots - peel, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small knob ginger - peel
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste

Now essentially - this could be a basic carrot/ginger puree by simply steaming the carrots and ginger for about 5 minutes, then blending into a smooth puree (will need to add water in order to "thin" the consistency of the puree).  However, this is where your creative chef skills come into play.

You're designing a dinner menu and you are focusing on the presentation of the plates.  Remember, simplicity is key: trying to accomplish too much will only result in pandemonium.  For one course, you choose to serve salmon with the carrot/ginger puree.  Two key components will be on the plate: the salmon and the carrot/ginger puree... and some type of a garnish.  Simple, yes.  Yet, how do you impart more flavors into the seemingly-lackluster dish?  Via the realm of herbs, spices, oil and vinegar.

When a bride-to-be is trying on wedding gowns, she usually has the internal instinct of knowing which is "the dress."  Sometimes the supportive family members and friends who she brings with her do not see the "vision" until she is "jacked up," a term meaning, "add the veil, tiara, necklace and earrings."  Essentially, to enhance the dress and see the "big picture." 

K.  Well, same can be applied to a simple puree:

Smokey-curry carrot/ginger puree
The same process as above.  However, this time, while the carrots and ginger are blending, add 1 Tbsp curry power, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp smokey paprika, pinch of cayenne pepper and 1 tsp liquid smoke.

Rosemary-Dijon carrot/ginger puree
The same process as above.  However, this time, while the carrots and ginger are blending, add 1 Tbsp freshly chopped ginger, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard and 2 tsp herbs de Provence.

There truly are a myriad of possibilities... just taking the basic carrot/ginger puree and completely changing the flavor by adding basic ingredients.

I made the smokey-curry version in order to compliment the salmon.  For a garnish, a red bell pepper/tomato picked salad and sprig of dill.  Not too complicated, but surprising to the palate.  One would not expect the smokey-flavor to be present in the puree... a way to discreetly add another element to the presentation, while still maintaining the simplicity.

Visualize it, then create it.

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them." - Henri Matisse


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