It Takes Two
I've long expounded on my love of Saturdays and the rituals I've come to love. Tea or coffee with my wife while scribbling down notes for dinner that night and figuring out exactly what I need to pick up to round the evening together. I'm one half of the component. Saturday night with friends or family or anybody for that matter relies on two people working together yet apart in absolute harmony.
While I'm at the market supporting our local farmers and picking up fresh herbs, potatoes, yellow tomatoes, pork and smoked bacon my wife is at home putting the house together. It's the perfect union. Literally. I make the food, she sets the table with like colours and it creates and enhances the atmosphere. Market flowers adorn the table and market flavours sit alongside them. One doesn't work without the other. They say the atmosphere sets the mood for the meal and you always start the process with your eyes first. I'm lucky to have my eyes working for me.
Last night we had family over for dinner and it was important to say thank you for all the different memories of my childhood spent with them at their house. Staying up late one Saturday to watch hockey with my uncle, swimming with them and my cousins in the pool, enjoying childhood. Enjoying life.
Dinner is supposed to flow. One dish to the other should have a kind of unity that tells a story and creates a story. I try to follow that path and work from one dish to the next when creating a menu. If a main dish had pork you can work with flavours that complement or contrast with it. Apples, peaches and other varieties of pork like prosciutto and bacon or garlic, rosemary and mustards. The list is so long that you're never short of ideas and inspiration comes in all forms and from every direction.
Let's take it back to dinner for four last night. We don't need an excuse to have a dinner party now that we have a house and a kitchen I can get lost in. With the changing of the season it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with family and make some hot, comforting food. That along with great wine and drinks, of course.
The menu for last night:
|Prosciutto, pesto, cracked pepper and bocconcini|
|Two-Potato Bisque with Chives and Lime Creme Fraiche|
- Making a base with sweet potato, potato, onion, garlic, bay leaves and a great chicken stock
- Adding it to a food processor to create a purée and then straining it through a sieve.
- Adding another layer of flavour with heavy cream, skim milk, lime juice/zest and cayenne pepper.
- Simmering to let the flavours mingle intimately over a low heat.
The key to this soup is the balance of so many different elements. The most important step of all is never allowing the cream and milk addition to boil. A low and steady heat is exactly what is needed. The soup is finished off with a lime-infused creme fraiche and a sprinkle of chives chopped on the bias.
Each and every unique step in this process is worth the time and effort and without it the finished product wouldn't have the same results. It helps transport a simple soup to something worthy of starting your dinner story.
Our main course with the revolved around the Rosemary Pork Tenderloin. The bacon laid across the top after the tenderloin was rubbed with rosemary, grainy mustard and garlic created a crisp exterior while allowing the pork to stay particularly juicy. I added delectable Ontario Fingerling Potatoes I found at the market that day and boiled them off before browning butter and mixing it with the chopped parsley and potatoes. The young carrots were rubbed with oil and seasoned in a pan and cut down the middle to ensure the proper tenderness in the cooking time I had. I made a candy sauce to drizzle over top with browned butter, juice from two orange halves, cumin and brown sugar. It had the consistency of syrup and added the perfect sweetness to the baked carrots. Candied Carrots.
|Rosemary Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Candied Carrots.|
|Raspberry Lemon Pie with Vanilla Whipped Cream and Raspberries.|