A friend and co-worker came over to my flat last night with dinner on his mind. He brought with him his mammoth sized Guild acoustic-electric guitar, a bottle of Irish Whiskey a sack of potatoes, some onions and a few sticks of carrots. We settled down and got to orchestrating the evenings bill of fare. To get our minds easy, we played an old album, Blonde on Blonde by the one and only Bob Dylan and began to discuss gastronomy. Soon the pantry was open, the whiskey was flowing and the talking become a physical practice. I’d like to share with you our spread that we created under heated words, stove tops, swigs of booze and folk music.
Roasted Pork Loin sauced with a variation Mornay.
Ruccola and Spinach Salad dressed with brined green olives and tossed in a sharp mayo-vinaigrette.
We began by scrubbing the potatoes and placing them inside a salted pot of water to boil. Our first debate and point of interest was of the method of cooking a spud. I began by saying that the potato would take longer to cook if it was not quartered or resized. He agreed but told me that if we quartered the potatoes would not retain their starchiness and the end result would be rather waterlogged and mushy. I nodded in accordance; we had time to wait for good potatoes but indeed some water helps the texture, right?
While we discussed these delicate matters , we set about sweating the onions on the back burner to add later to our Mornay sauce. When the diced onions were clear, we added the button mushrooms. The goal there was to remove the moisture from them. While all this took place, we debated even more.
My friend comes from a structured world of cooking, the world of school. For myself, I come from the abstract and experimental world. We have both about the same level of work related experience.
With the potatoes getting along, the oven preheated to 18o C, the onions sweated the mushrooms ready, my colleague began to prepare a fresh mayonnaise for the potato salad. I prepared a sharp vinaigrette for the spinach and ruccola salad. I added Balsamico bianco and extra virgin olive oil, (3 parts oil 1 part vinegar.) A Chopped chili paste called Sambal Oelek, italian herbs (rosemary and parsley) A dollop of handlemaier’s mittlescharf semf.(It’s a super delicious yellow mustard from Bavaria.)
*For a good mayo try adding a combination of oils and vinegars. ie: some part vegetable oil for the lightness of taste and some parts olive oil for the robustness. Likewise with vinegar, apple and balsamic work well. Keep adding and tasting till mayo is just right. Fresh mayo is simple and adds volumes of flavor to your food.
Next,We made the bechamel sauce: Butter, milk and flour. The mushrooms and onions were then placed into the sauce with a touch of irish whiskey. The plan was to simply do this type of sauce and leave the cheese for the salad. The problem was the salad dressing I had made did not fit the cheese. So, we solved the problem by turning the bechamel into a variation of a Mornay. (Since a Mornay is like a parmesan and guyerre and we only had a blue and swiss based hybrid cheese.) The whiskey, cheese, mushrooms, and onions mixed like angels.
At this point we skipped over the last track of the aformentioned album, Blonde on Blonde, the song being something of a “sad eye lady”- but it was just too melow for us who were just beginning to warm up. We went to another album: Bob Dylan’s, self titled and began with, Freight Train Blues.
We tasted it first and paired it with an apple:
Lets talk about the meat of the subject. I purchased a kilo of pork loin. It was first seared on all sides. I didn’t want to bother with cross-hatching the skin of the pork loin but we talked the matter through and decided that it’d be best this way. (Bringing the fat and juices out.) Rubbing it down with caraway, pepper and salt, Kyle placed the loin into a hot and dry pan. We seared it on all sides for 3-5 minutes then roasted in a bed of carrots, onions and garlic at 180 C for 45 minutes. After the time for the oven had finished, the temperature was raised to 215 C for an additional 15 minutes. We took a shot of whiskey.
I then explained to my friend the virtues of bacon and whiskey; How theyshare kinship as beautiful friends. To the same effect I convinced him, with little effort to sample a portion of the fried skin with a with a swallow of the golden liquor. And thus I will impart it to you, my dear reader-taste the ambrosia.
The potato salad: We removed the skins of the boiled spuds and cut them up into a bowl. We mixed mustard and the fresh mayo together with a bit of diced raw onions with the potatoes, using a sprinkling of salt and sugar. We were rather pleased and left it at that.
Kyle was busying himself with dishes or some detail prep when he looked over at what I was doing. He was mortified. I was using the excess mayo and stirring it into my vinaigrette in a pan on the stove at low heat. “It will curdle!” “What are you doing!”
He was so shocked at this opportunity I took that he nearly croaked. I told him, “Mon ami, you are planted in a world that is too real and scientific-this dinner tastes too much like Kyle, and though it is not a bad thing, it is not what this dinner is.” I looked at him and smiled and said “Trust me, eh?” The dressing simmered on the pan for 15 minutes. I was whisking it every once in a while to help blend the two ingredients; the heat helped to round and merge the flavors together.
Who will argue when the result is thus?:
The spread was complete. We had our roasted pork loin as the center piece, with a bowl of our variation Mornay sauce, a mixed salad of spinach and ruccola paired with a creamy and sharp vinaigrette, and a house made potato salad.
And at that we drank to our health and ate as lords.