Monday, July 18, 2011

Parcels



Since she started up with the JP, I have been trying not just to make dinner for Heather, but some kind of portable lunch when possible so she doesn't have to go off script if she gets hungry at work. I know what she likes, but sometimes it's hard to make something portable. Tupperware tubs of soup can be hard to reheat or serve from, and a lot of what I make is only really presentable when served hot. The one solution has been spring rolls, but mercy, how many damn spring rolls can a girl eat without feeling put upon. It was time to try something new to keep the spark alive.* Hyachacha.

I like the effect of bitter greens being tempered by a sour dressing or tart fruit, so I decided to make some little rice paper parcels with greens and a savory dressing, but I shuddered at the thought of Heather confronting a drab hockey puck of cooked greens staring up at her from a plastic tub. Hulk Smash mint out in the alley had come into flower, and I thought I could use the buds and leaves to add some visual interest, with a slice of apple framing them inside a contrasting background.

The Greens were pretty standard. I wilted kale and leeks with some sliced garlic in some bacon fat and a splash of vegetable stock, and once they were cooked I mixed in some fresh basil, mint and parsley leaves from the alley. While the greens were cooling down I made the dressing. The dressing was also pretty standard, some sesame oil, Siracha, chopped garlic and hot mustard whisked together into a quick vinaigrette. The hot elements contrasted nicely with the cool herbs and the acid complimented the bitterness of the greens, making the effect savory and complex rather than rude.

Also drank a shot of the pot liquor. Fuck me delicious. Somebody's gonna make a fortune off pot liquor.

For each parcel I soaked a square rice paper sheet in hot water and laid it out on a damp kitchen towel like a baseball diamond, then arranged a mint bud or other leaf and a slice of golden apple as decorations, occasionally accenting them with some shaved carrot strips or sliced tomato, then mounded the greens on the apple slice and doused them with the dressing. When bound up in the rice paper the visual effect was gauzy and muted, which had the rather nice effect of making the parcels seem less clinical, less like botanical specimens.

Look, I know this is a kind of trick. It's basically a spring roll in a different shape, and the decorations don't really change the eating experience, but cut me a little slack here. I'm trying to make it so Heather doesn't get bored or have to hide in her office eating some mud-colored putty while everybody else is whooping it up with pizzas and caramel macchiati.** 

That's what they do there. They whoop it up.

*Attributed to unspecified woman, possibly an actress.
**Macchiatos

4 comments:

  1. Wowee, bravo. A feast for the eyes, too...

    Though I've been thinking about the title of this blog, Mario Batali Voice, and feel that it's lacking something. Yes, I've read the charming backstory. But a title that needs an accompanying explanation, I don't know...So I offer my humble suggestions.

    My first thought, naturally, was: Excellent Batali Chowhound. However...sure, it scans, but chowhound is way too cheesy. Like something Bob Sirrott would come up with when moving from radio to his first Local Television Personality gig.

    Perhaps: Batalizer. But it doesn't seem like the "li" and "iz" sounds share the same syllable in the conjoined word comfortably. Would have to be Batali-izer, which wouldn't do at all.

    Maybe: Blogs about Puckishly Delightful Food.

    How about: Albini Batali Extempore. It looks like Latin at first glance, which is always nice. Also could be an anagram.

    If I remember right, Steve is a big fan of 70s British prog rock, so perhaps, as an homage: The Albin Parsley Project

    I don't know, just thinking out loud here, trying to be helpful...

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  2. Alan, I'll submit your proposals to the naming committee. They are away at their summer retreat, so don't expect to hear anything until September. Also, they are assholes, so don't take offense.

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  3. Ah, those bureaucrats and their summer retreats...I think someone wrote a song about that. So are they pressuring you to write about more radio-friendly vegetables?

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  4. These are lovely. They remind me, in spirit and execution, of Jacques Pepin's approach to decorating.

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