Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Eat-ster!

A pic of Easter plenty for you:

Click on the following picture to aggrandicize:

This spaghetti sauce has turned out to be one the best I've ever made. I'm not always consistent in my sauce-making, but this one came out exactly the way I wanted it to: not over-dominated by herbs, not too salty or sweet, not overly meaty or vegetable-y. The only things that could have made it nicer would have been (1) fresh herbs—basil, parsley, oregano; and (2) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of the powdered Parmesan. But you make do with what's available to you, so voilà. All in all, I was delighted with the results.

The sauce contains ground beef (expensive), ground pork (cheap), button mushrooms, minced green bell peppers, Korean oyster mushrooms (very meaty), tomato sauce, garlic powder, dried parsley, dried oregano, dried basil, olive oil (in which the veggies were fried and salted), tomato paste, and a bit of water to supplement the natural moisture that cooks out of the meat (it's not only fat that runs out of the meat) and the vegetables. Oh, yes: I did add an onion. A fresh onion—mandolined, minced, and caramelized in the aforementioned olive oil.

Cornstarch, something of a cheat, was thrown in as a binding agent. This kept the sauce from becoming too runny. I'd rather cheat and have my sauce be the right consistency than eschew cornstarch and end up with a thin, watery product.

I've got enough sauce and pasta to last me several more meals, but every meal needs a companion.* So—bread! To my delight, I finally realized that there is indeed a bakery in town that makes a halfway decent baguette, so I went there today, after therapy, and bought myself a loaf for a rather steep W2,500. But the price was worth it: the baguette passed the "shatter test," i.e., when I cut into it with a newly purchased serrated bread knife, crumbs flew everywhere as the knife bit into the crust. The second half of the "shatter test" is the "contrast test": the interior of a baguette must be as soft and gossamer as the exterior is hard and brittle. I'd give my baguette about a 75% on that score, but that's still saying something. The local chain bakery, Paris Baguette, serves crappy baguettes. As was true when I lived in Seoul, it's the independent bakeries that have proven better at making recognizably French breads.

So that's your dose of Eastertide food porn. Happy Easter. Eat well.

*Etymologically speaking, the word companion comes from "with" (com) and "bread" (pan), so a companion is someone with whom you break bread.


1 comment:

Charles said...

You need to get yourself a basil plant (or two). They are cheap (a couple thousand won, generally, at least in my experience) and incredibly easy to care for. We always have at least one plant in our house, and we harvest a few leaves whenever we make pasta. These plants have always survived until we go away on a long trip--rather than leave the plants to die unattended, we just harvest all the remaining leaves and make pesto.

Seriously, with how easy it is to grow basil at home, there is really no excuse for not having fresh basil on hand. Rosemary is another herb that is pretty easy to grow at home and great for cooking. Heck, while you're at it you might as well grab a mint plant as well--if nothing else you can make tea from it.