Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Don't Be Afraid

I'm typing while keeping an eye on "The Next Food Network Star." I am watching it for the first time and I'm guessing I missed quite a few episodes because they are already down to the last three contestants. What captivated me enough to watch something I normally wouldn't? As I was about to turn off the Tv I caught the premise of today's show. The three contestants would watch an advance screening of "Julie & Julia" and create a three course meal for a few celebrity chefs. They had a budget of $1000 and three hours to create their three dishes. I have a favourite contestant already but it doesn't matter as I likely won't watch the finale. I just liked the interweaving of Julia Child and "Julie & Julia" references.

Those of you watching to the end, let me know if Melissa the home-cook becomes "The Next Food Network Star".

I should try challenging myself in this way too (minus the celeb chefs). Maybe what I will do is give Jen a budget and send her to the store to buy whatever moves her, that way I am forced to use ingredients which might not be as familiar to me. I find that whenever I am at the grocery store, even if I don't have a list, I always go for the same stuff. As I shop, certain dishes immediately come to mind so I always come home with the same loot: leeks, arugula, Chicken breast, pork, arborio rice, sundried tomato. Or maybe they're just my staples...

I feel the need to start coloring outside the lines more, to surprise myself. Although it is hard to create something truly original (someone, somewhere has thought of it before you), I'd like to at least try. Dinner tonight was delicious but the presentation was quite sad and uninspired. I made a kind of pork papricas (an old Romanian dish, no paprika in it whatsoever) and, craving starch, I rested it atop a nest of tagliatelle nere (black tagliatelle). The dish lacked color and, much as I tried, I could not find something of brighter color to contrast with those black tagliatelle. Looking in the fridge, I did see lemon and yellow peppers but I passed on both as neither would go with the dish. I should have cooked some of those yellow peppers into the dish but alas, too late now, the food was plated already. I ended up garnishing with the predictable finely chopped parsley in a last ditch attempt to add some colour but as you picture parsley green against black I am sure you will agree with me when I tell you that it just was not colourful enough.

Ok. I have decided. I'd like to publicly commit to making a 'black box' dinner for my bi-weekly guest at her next visit. My dear guest, if you're reading this, don't be afraid! Worst case scenario, if my creation is not edible, I'll make Waverman's "pizza with arugula, leeks and cheese." Aaarggh... here come leeks and arugula again. See what I mean?!?

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