Sharing stuff that I like, cooked, ate, did… you get the idea.
I’ve always found cooking to be somewhat of a reflection of my current state of mind. Some of the best things I’ve made can’t be recreated simply because part of whatever emotion I was experiencing at the time influenced the dish, and can’t be captured as an ingredient or an instruction. The joy of having a bag of beautiful, sweet peaches is amplified by turning them into a cobbler, and taking out the frustrations of the day on a piece of chicken, resulting in a perfect paillard, renders the source of the frustration harmless. One of the most rewarding experiences can be to make a great dish by putting forth little effort and what seems like scraps of ingredients, as was the case this past winter.
I came home from a particularly frustrating day of work one day this past winter, hungry and with nothing already prepared (a rarity for me). A hot meal was definitely called for, but an elaborate meal wasn’t a wise choice to tackle. Furthermore, I hadn’t been grocery shopping recently, and my fridge was in shambles – nothing of sufficient quantity to make a dish. What I did have was a carnival winter squash, a few straggling sage leaves from the garden, and the shambles in the fridge – consisting of white wine, creme fraiche, a small morsel of pecorino cheese, and a small packet of speck trimmings.The speck ends were the shining star of the shambles. Admittedly, I had no idea what I was going to use the few ounces of speck ends I had picked up, but the ends, boasting a large proportion of the seasonings, served as the salt and spice for this dish. Once the squash was hollowed out, a quick dice of the speck, a spoonful of creme fraiche, a few strokes of the pecorino across a rasp, and a chiffonade of the sage were folded together in the squash, with a splash of white wine to bring a touch of acidity. I placed the top back on the squash and put it on a baking sheet, and placed it in the oven, which was on its way to 350 degrees. After an hour, during which I relaxed, read, and had a glass of wine, I took the squash out of the oven – the squash was tender throughout, and the flavors had permeated the squash to the rind, and the satisfaction of having made something delicious out of seemingly nothing lingered on my tongue.