Day into night at home / 15

A dose of celebration for cooking at home!

Do you ever think about how you want your food to look as you are putting it on a plate? Not just with these recipes but in general. Taking a quick pause to do so adds depth to our experience in the kitchen. It brings a little reverence to the ingredients and delight to the eye. It opens us up to being more present in our cooking, and begins a visual conversation that makes us better cooks.

 

Plating food well, in my opinion, is a balance of the visual and the pragmatic. A beautiful dish that is too difficult to eat puts it too far from its ultimate intention - to feed us. Yet to not think about food visually is a missed opportunity. 

 

Here are two questions that invite exploration. What makes this dish beautiful and how can I make that a more prominent part of it? Is there some ingredient (like an herb or micro green) that brings color to the dish and also compliments its flavor and texture? 

 

Another way to visually enhance a dish is to think about how you want to cut an ingredient. For example, this week’s salad has raw asparagus in it, and the asparagus can be cut in different ways. With something like a raw asparagus you want to make it as thin as possible, thus rendering it tender and delicious. You can do that by peeling it lengthwise, with a y-shaped peeler, into long thin strips, or you could carefully slice it into thin coins with a mandolin. Think of how you want your salad to look then choose. 

 

This salad also has watermelon radishes, which are fuschia on the inside, and the prettiest radish of all. Think about how you may want to slice those as well. I like to slice them first with a mandolin, then stack the slices and quarter them into triangles. If you can’t find watermelon radishes, regular ones are beautiful as well. For those I just do slices, so that I have a white circle with a thin red line around it.

 

Our salad and dessert this week call for hazelnut oil, which adds a subtle earthiness to both dishes, but it can be substituted for olive oil if you don’t want to purchase the extra ingredient. 

 

Dessert is a simple chocolate spelt snacking cake. I love spelt flour because it has a nutty flavor, and it’s more nutritious and less industrialized than all-purpose flour.

 

This cake is not super sweet, which makes it absolutely delicious with a glass of red wine. If you want to up the sugar ante serve it with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Emphasis on small, think the opposite of a brownie Sunday. Too much ice cream will overpower the delicate nature of this cake, which is one of the nicest things about it. If you go the ice cream route, a drizzle of the hazelnut or olive oil over the ice cream and a few flakes of Maldon salt elevate this dessert to something you would order at a restaurant.

 

For our main course— picadillo, but with a twist.  Picadillo is a dish made with ground beef that is eaten all over Latin America. It’s simple and delicious, and really showcases the way briny and sweet meld in Latin American cooking. The twist is that instead of using the traditional raisins, capers and olives this dish borrows some ideas from the classic dinner party braise, Chicken Marbella. The raisins get substituted for prunes, and the whole thing gets elevated with bright green Castelvetrano olives. 

 

The picadillo is served over rice, which is the classic pairing. Medium or short grain rice is what you’re looking for here. I myself am partial to medium grain sushi rice.  

 

The whole menu should take about an hour and half to make, but start two hours before you want to eat, so you can do it leisurely!

 

As always, please reach out with any questions by hitting reply to this email or direct messaging me via instagram.

 

Buen provecho, Ana xx

 

 

Here's this week's breakdown:

  • Pour yourself something to drink— bubbly water, a glass of wine...

  • Press play on the playlist

  • Pull the ground beef out of the refrigerator, lightly salt it, and let it sit on the counter to loose its chill

  • Make the cake

  • While the cake bakes, make the picadillo

  • Make the rice

  • Make the salad 

The Menu

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