My coworker Brian lent me this AWESOME book set by a chef in Denmark. The trilogy of books has a journal kept by the chef, a cookbook of his dishes (and also here), and a book of snapshots of his coworkers and collaborations. The book is inspiring me to experiment a lot with food.
Redzepi, the chef, spent a lot of his life foraging for food, experimenting with how to bring out the best in everything edible around him. His family and he survived this way. When he created his own restaurant, he focused intently on how his business worked with the people nearby. Not only his clientele were considered, though. His suppliers have become a big part of his success as well.
Redzepi and his chefs go to producers' farms and seek to get a grasp for the cultivation and potential of their ingredients. They source a great majority of their food within a short distance of their five-star Copenhagen eatery. And this jolt of insight makes it to the restaurant's patrons, when they are surprised by the abundance of variety and flavor greeting them at their doorsteps.
I've been thinking a lot about this new, old approach to food. Instead of trying so hard to wring each kernel of corn from a tired soil, maybe we work with the land's wild tendancies to let in more variety of species. Let the vegetables adapt to the local climate and express a uniquely-nearby flavor. And in this urban environment, how can I get creative with whatever is in season and makes it to me in the city? How can I piece together things I already have in my kitchen to make a dish both spectacular and economical.
Some recent failures: I made a broth out of vegetable leavings like onion skins and broccoli pieces. The (1) broth tasted a LOT like broccoli. Before realizing this, though, I (2) combined it with roasted squash to make a squash soup. I also added coconut milk for creaminess, which had the whole soup tasting bland, and unbalanced after all that. I saved the half gallon of extra broccoli broth, and the soup just in case I had another jolt of inspiration. It came yesterday.
Some recent Successes: yesterday I finally spiced and finished the (1) squash soup. I added lots of curry and some yogurt and some toasted pumpkin seed oil and it turned out really well. The curry was a bit strong, so I cut the soup by half with chicken broth and it was fantastic.
I have really gotten good at (2) green smoothies. my roommate has a great blender, so I've been making smoothies out of 2 apples, one banana, 2 handfulls of frozen berries, a handful of frozen something else (pineapple or mango), something creamy (yogurt, milk, or a handful of sprouted nuts like cashews), and juice or soy milk to liquify. I then add a generous fist of something leafy and green like spinach (frozen or fresh), kale (this one is sorta bitter), cilantro, or basil.
And this morning I figured out what to do with that broccoli broth: mixed it with miso and ground toasted sesame seeds and it made a (3) fantastic soup!
Today I am working on rice to add to the squash soup to make it stretch even further, and making plans to make this carrot soup recipe to keep me hydrated and nourished these next busy days.
But now, if you'll excuse me, I have to finish eating before work!