Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday Test Kitchen – 11/18/09

Finally, I’m rolling out a prompt on-time Wednesday Test Kitchen. I really must say that there was only very minimal planning this week for what I wanted to make. The colder weather really dictated on how I wanted to approach these two plates. Both are hearty and best when hot.

I ended up with some really nice wild head-on gulf shrimp because I originally intended to make some Shrimp and Grits, but I had all this nice fennel, sausage and fumet stock hanging around, so I decided that a soup would be best. My roommates occasionally do a Tom Yum soup, but I didn’t want to mess around with spice blends or any packaging. I decided to make my own interpretation – which oddly ended up pretty close, but vibrantly more layered and brighter than your standard. With the exception of dried shrimp paste used in my Gold Cayenne sambal, there were no powders used. I threw in andouille and 4505 Meats Golden Dogs. Why? Because they have a spicy sweetness to them that tasted awesome when paired with the soup. That and it’s my soup, I can do whatever the hell I want to it.

The other dish was a creamy farro risotto. It was cold and I really felt like something warm and creamy. (That’s what she said. Sorry.) I was planning on cooking persimmons all week and blending it into savory, but I wasn’t inspired to pair it with meat that night. I just had no desire to cook meat. (Yes, it’s shocking, but it can happen.) I happened to have wonderful farro literally fall into my hands when I opened my kitchen shelf. It was meant to be. The dish really harkens back to the good old days of the Orson kitchen (really not long ago actually, feels like forever…) when there was a seasonal farro dish on the menu (once with cabbage stock and later with peach). What was wonderful about the presentation of the peach farro dish at Orson was really the complexity established with elements of savory and sweet. It wasn’t an established comfort food, but it was definitely a comfort dish. I partially wanted to recreate the philosophy of that dish, but at the same time, do nothing even remotely similar in terms of flavor combination. The dish gets finished similarly, but I guess nothing in the prep process or ingredient list was remotely similar except for lemon. I don’t think it’s a reinterpretation or copy, but I’d like to call it a tribute.

Onto the Menu:

Tom Yum Soup

-Fumet fennel shrimp stock, wild Gulf head-shrimp, 4505 Golden Dogs, Andouille, homemade Gold Cayenne sambal, finished with torpedo onions

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Pumpkin “Farr”-o Risotto

-brown butter sautéed persimmons, Meyer lemon, Andante Minuet and yuzu zest

*the yuzu zest adds to the depth of flavor and complexity, but I also tried a bowl with Meyer lemon zest, which meshed better into the flavor profile. Both were awesome as garnishes, but the yuzu was like the Veronica to the Meyer lemon’s Betty. Tough choices.

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