If you're wondering why these dishes are all so similar,
basically the grocery store I went to had a section
where they bagged together a bunch of great looking produce for three dollars a bag.
So I got these giant bags of avocado, tomatoes, zucchini, apples, herbs etc. for obscenely cheap.
The caveat being that it was all produce that had reached the end of it's shelf life, and would go bad soon.
So since bringing the groceries back, it's been a mad race to get through it all by the end of the weekend.
But when you consider this means I have a overwhelming supply of delicious avocados, and the like,
it's a race I don't mind running at all.
So this morning I made a brunch with this really great walnut Gorgonzola bread,
which Arizmendi's bakes on Fridays.
and simply paired it with sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, parsley, and goat cheese.
I also couldn't help sprinkling some crushed almonds, and a couple squeezes of lemon juice and a quick splash of olive oil.
For lunch I broiled some scored zucchini and tomato wedges,
aided by a couple greased sprigs of rosemary and a splash of vinegar half way through
(any earlier and the vinegar and rosemary would burn).
I also cut a few slices of the bread and placed them on top to toast.
Which worked surprisingly well as the flame toasted the top
but the rising steam from the vegetables kept the bottom of the bread from drying out.
I broiled the whole thing in a pan as I couldn't find any baking trays or aluminum foil at the studio,
and just had the guys from work help themselves,
aided by a jar of goat cheese and olive oil just outside the frame.
So I made three variations on the same theme,
one a noodle salad served as dinner,
one a toast and spread style brunch,
and the last a simple broiled lunch.
Which makes me compelled to explain my overall cooking philosophy:
1. Wander a local farmers market or grocery store
2. Buy whatever produce looks especially good (usually the seasonal fresh local stuff)
3. Make a bunch of variations of a theme that best celebrates the natural qualities of the produce
4. This usually takes the form of simply prepared ingredients but with natural and creative pairings
5. For variation I usually just swap out the interchangeable elements:
- Acid: vinegar, lemon juice etc.
- Fat: olive oil, butter etc.
- Starches: pasta, grains, bread, potatoes etc.,
- Sodium: salt, soy sauce, capers, marinated olives etc.
- Heat: pepper, dried peppers, chili sauce, cayenne pepper etc.
- Sweet: honey, agave syrup, dates, fruits etc.
- and herbs, nuts, cheeses and yogurts etc. to provide contrasting textures/flavors etc.
For me cooking really is about how best to celebrate produce by bringing out what it naturally wants to be
through careful choice of the produce itself,
how it's cooked and seasoned,
and what it's paired with.
And constant experimentation to find unexpected pairings and cooking methods.