Monday, October 10, 2011

A few good meals (and a mediocre one)

Look at that, I'm behind on my posts again! Let's do some catching up. Since we last spoke, it turned from summer to fall and back to summer here in Ottawa, so I moved into fall cooking and then the weather changed so everything I'm craving feels wrong again.

Once we came back from London I realized I had missed cooking every day, so I threw myself back into it with a vengeance. A pork dish was inspired by a half-dozen peaches given to me by my father-in-law and which were ripening rapidly. So I pickled them lightly in some apple cider vinegar, with red onions, and served them atop a roasted pork tenderloin that nestled in a puddle of balsamic and red wine reduction. On the side, some sauteed kale and some foil-wrapped and grilled carrots and red onions. A lovely autumnal feast.

Another meal was inspired by a magazine I read on the plane home: a chorizo and potato tortilla (Spanish baked omelette) with red peppers and garlic. I've tried tortilla in the past, but the instructions to cook it in the pan, then slide it out onto a plate, put the frying pan over the plate and flip the whole thing back into the pan have always backfired. This recipe refreshingly suggested simply finishing the damn thing in the oven, which moved me to actually try it, with perfect results. Fresh salad greens from the CSA and a ripe garden tomato rounded out the plate.

Finally, I tried to recreate the delicious patatas bravas we had at two tapas restaurants in London. I began with my tried and true roasted potatoes, which are first parboiled, then drained and shaken to bash them about a bit, then placed on a hot cookie sheet with preheated oil, tossed to coat, and roasted at high heat until crispy. While they were roasting I made a paprika-laced sundried tomato sauce and a homemade mayonnaise. That's right, homemade mayo. I have three words for that particular process: Not. Worth. It. Go to the store and buy the Hellmann's with olive oil, it is delicious and easier than standing over a running food processor with an egg yolk in it, dripping 3/4 of a cup of oil into it ONE DROP AT A TIME.

After all that work, the patatas bravas tasted nothing like what we had at the restaurant, which I can only assume means that mine were lacking two things: 1)way more oil and 2) way more salt. As I could not in good conscience deep fry potatoes on a Wednesday night, I won't be trying this again. Also, my sauce was dry (needed to use oil packed tomatoes, I think) and the mayo, as mentioned, was lackluster. The chickpea and spinach dish we had along with the patatas was very good though - to be expected, as it was a Smitten Kitchen recipe. I'll make that again for sure.

Note to self: if you want tapas, go out and order them in a restaurant. Sigh.

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