More ‘Almost There’ Dishes

April 20, 2012

As I’ve experimented with conjuring up new dishes, I’ve made quite a few that just weren’t that fantastic, and which I don’t deem  recipe sharing-worthy. But some of them were rather pretty or at least were interesting enough that I decided to post them anyhow.

The first dish was in my somewhat recent let’s-caramelize-everything phase. (Ok, I really only caramelized onions and leeks, but I did it a lot!). The idea here was to try to have different contrasting flavors from the five tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. (Umami is an earthy, savory, fermented taste. Examples of foods with an umami component are miso soup, mushrooms, sauerkraut, and cheese.) The base of the dish was Israeli couscous (a toasted pasta much larger than standard couscous), which I cooked in stock, so that was the salty component. Caramelized onions served as the sweet component, and sun-dried tomatoes and blue cheese were the umami components. At this point, I have to admit that I didn’t realize that sun-dried tomatoes fit in the umami category. I was thinking of them as having a bit of a sour component. So this dish really only had 3 tastes. It wasn’t too bad, but didn’t come together quite the way I hoped.

Caramelized Onions, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese on Israeli Couscous

Caramelized Onions, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Blue Cheese on Israeli Couscous

The second dish was an attempt to drastically transform tomato vodka sauce into something lower-fat. It’s supposed to be made with heavy cream, but at fifty calories and five to six grams of fat per TABLESPOON, there was no way that was going to happen. So I found a few recipes online and kind of mashed them together. I ended up using half and half, in a smaller quantity than the recipes called for. What I ended up with was some perfectly lovely tasting red sauce, but you couldn’t tell that it had a dairy component (very predictably, now that I look back on it). But it did look nice on top of some Pappardelle’s Venetian Calamari Linguine, topped with shaved pecorino romano.

Venetian Calamari Linguine with Ultra Low-Fat 'Tomato Vodka Sauce'

Venetian Calamari Linguine with Ultra Low-Fat 'Tomato Vodka Sauce'

Next was another pasta dish. I normally use grilled shrimp when I make Pappardelle’s  Chipotle Black Bean Tagliatelle, but I had some left over chicken that particular week, and used it instead. So…I kind of have to make something up here, because paging through the scattered notebooks I use to record my ingredient measurements, I can’t find this dish at all. But I like the photo, and seem to be hung up on having four items in this post. So, let’s see… I know I used shredded chicken, yellow bell peppers and garlic, and obviously topped it with cilantro. I’m fairly certain I used chicken stock and reduced it to make a sauce, since I’ve been practicing Reduction Mania in the kitchen for several months now. The best bet is that I added cumin, a bit of red pepper, lime juice, and I think a few squeezes of tomato paste prior to reducing it. If I remember correctly, this one could would have been shareable, but I’ve obviously lost my notes!

Pappardelle's  Chipotle Black Bean Tagliatelle with Cumin-Lime Shredded Chicken

Pappardelle's Chipotle Black Bean Tagliatelle with Cumin-Lime Shredded Chicken

I was really hoping this one would turn out wonderfully, but it was another good-but-not-great result. For the base I used a mixture of black and red quinoa, cooked in stock. On top of that was caramelized leeks, sun-dried tomatoes, and softened goat cheese…which, as I’m writing this up, I realize is pretty much a direct repeat of dish #1 with 3 variations. Quinoa instead of Israeli couscous, leeks instead of onions, and goat cheese instead of blue cheese. Ha! Well, that’s obviously EXACTLY where I got the inspiration for this one.

The important thing was that I had fun making all of these, even if they didn’t quite turn out right. And these ones were close enough that they’re worth a second try, with a few adjustments.

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