Sunday, February 24, 2008

Photo of the Week and February Updates

It doesn't look like much, but I was more proud of this little dish than words can say. Plating dishes--actually arranging the food on the plate in an artful and (hopefully) appetizing way has been a source of anxiety for me since the beginning of the program. It just doesn't come naturally to me. I'd look over at other people's dishes and see spirals of sauce elegantly dripped around the plate or airy floats of lemon zest places just so in a way that brought the whole plate together. And then I'd look at my plate and wince.

Oh, I know my pictures turn out ok, but that, my friends, is the benefit of the macro-zoom. I heart macro-zoom. One side looks saggy? No prob, just zoom in on the other side! Can't find the right sized plate? Well, don't put it in the picture, silly! Ah, the macro.

Anyways, especially at the end of a long class, the last thing I want to do is figure out how to make my hacked-up, sauced, buttery whatever-it-is look pretty. But still. I've been working on it. Trying to get ideas from photos in magazines. Watching other people. Taking a few risks and asking my inner perfectionist to take a chill pill.

So this little tomato salad? This is the first dish I've ever prepared where I made a conscious effort to think about plating before I started the dish and then, lo and behold, carried it through. It's simple, but classy, eh? It's a start!

Oh, and it doesn't taste too bad either!

P.S. Sorry I've been so infrequent with the postings lately. For some reason I had this completely CRAZY idea that I'd be LESS BUSY once I, you know, quit my job? Nope, sorry, hun. Still running around chasing my tail over here. I've been writing, though! Yup, the second round of posts for my interview at The Kitchn are up! Yay! Go check 'em out:

Keeping Braises Moist with an Inverted Lid of Foil
Book Review: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Recipe: No-Knead Challah (from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day)
Supermarket Saver: How much should you pay for olive oil?

And here's that tomato salad recipe:

Salade de ma Mere
(c) Roberta Dowling, Cambridge School for Culinary Arts

4 plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded (this is easiest to do if you blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds)
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-1 1/2 T Dijon mustard
1/4 c. raspberry vinager or black currant vinegar
1 c. heavy cream
salt and pepper
2 heads Boston lettuce
Chopped chives or chervil for garnish

Clean and slice the tomatoes and put in a salad bowl. In a small bowl, mix together garlic, mustard, raspberry vinegar or black currant vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the cream and pour over the tomatoes.

Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Clean the lettuce, taking off the rib of the leaves. Add the lettuce to the tomatoes and toss together just before serving. Sprinkle with chopped chives.

For my salad, I chopped the tomatoes into small cubes and drizzled them with enough of the dressing to bring it together. (I had about two cups of dressing leftover.) For plating, I arranged a few big leaves of lettuce on a plate (instead of tossing them with the tomatoes) and molded the salad by putting a cookie cutter in the center of the plate and scooping in the tomatoes.

I think this salad could use LOTS more tomatoes--at least 10-15 nice ripe red juicy tomatoes (Dear Summer, I miss you. When will you come again? Love, Emma)

The dressing has a nice tang to it and the cream is nicely mellow without being too creamy, if you know what I mean? I'm actually not a fan of dressings like ranch or bleu cheese, and I thought this was fantastic.

This would be a fantastic first course or side dish at a summer garden party! (Dear Summer, Still no calls? Don't you love us anymore? Kisses, Emma)

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