A month trying to pep up the team and the household. The days are getting longer and so with it is my patience. Slow simmering shakas and gratins are the only orders we receive right now. Every meal should require mopping bread. Yet we are running the 3km to work (only jogging back mind), the need for healthy and fresh is top priority but unattainable with only the rootiest of tubers still being plucked from storage. February will be tough eh!
Jambalaya as a jumping off point is fantastic. The highest care and respect for every ingredient at every stage is a great metaphor for how we should try and live. Creating a wonderful base, developing as each step is elegantly built into ‘the big picture’.
Sofrito is a complex beast to tame but once you do a world of spiced braises opens to you. Once you find the ability and the base you love you can lean on it and tweak it as you see fit.
Ribollita is a classic warming veggie and bean stew that is all about the base. Most recipes call for a simple mirepoix and a tin of tomatoes but if we evolve our dish with tips and techniques we have picked up through life we can make it anew every time. Sofrito for the base. Parmesan or ham bone stock instead of water for the body. Neeps and tatties instead of the beans. Peas and herbs for the summer. The basic is best enjoyed whilst looking out upon a snowy or rainy lunch. perhaps feet still bitten from the cold of outside. A glass of something effervescent and spiced to remind you this bowl is the perfect pick me up to continue the day.
Condiments and sauces are the bridging the gap (great Nas song) recipes that we need when in doubt of where to turn. Chefs love to let one ingredient shine but we run into walls when we are faced with a perfectly roasted pork chop, perfectly crisped pomme anna and perfectly blanched broccoli. Wonderful items with nowhere to turn but the sauce cabinet. Meat jus are time consuming and require great expense. A broccoli stem puree would be wonderful but perhaps a little too rich? Brown butter would do wonders for everything but perhaps a little too greasy?
Tomato jam has been a staple of my pantry for many a year now, ungodly amounts of sugar and vinegar combined with a little tamari, ginger and a tinny or two of toms. Diced tomatoes unless you wish to blitz (which for the above recipe would be just the ticket). It lasts forever and is the ketchup substitute we all don’t really need but would enjoy anyhow.