Sunday, February 20, 2011

Day Fifty-One: White Food Tastes Good!

My current favorite Food Network chef, Anne Burrell, has a few phrases she likes to repeat. She calls everything a "shootin' match" and makes sure to let us know when she's a "happy girl." But my favorite of these is probably, "Brown food tastes good!"

If you look at the picture of tonight's dinner (left) you'll see that there is, in fact, a little brownness on my piece of fish. This is the type of brown Anne is talking about, not the natural color of the food. She doesn't mean the brown rice my fish is sitting on is inherently yummier than the white fish atop it, or the beurre blanc drizzled on top of that. She is simply hammering home the principle that seared food, roasted food, food that's cooked to the point of coloring, develops flavors beyond what wimpier types of cooking can achieve. Which, basic as it is, is a handy tip to know.

But tonight, I learned that white food also tastes good. I sauteed some cod with salt and pepper, steamed some cauliflower, and made my very first batch of beurre blanc, which is butter in a white wine vinegar reduction. I feel compelled to quote the movie Julie & Julia here. "You whisk them together and the vinegar works on the milk solids in the butter until you get this light, frothy..." (from there Julia goes into a delighted tizzy, trying to figure out the perfect word...her husband lands on "tangy" and she goes to pieces with admiration). Yes, the rice it all went with was brown. You have to have some variety, right? And don't forget that nice browning on my fish. It's mostly covered with sauce, but it really is there.

Other delicious white (or off-white) foods: mayonnaise, butter, milk, buttermilk, white asparagus, potato, and cheese (yellow cheeses aren't actually yellow, they're dyed).

What's most exciting for me about tonight's dinner is not that I ate fish or cauliflower or both in one meal. It's not that I got to use my copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the first time in months, though that does get me all giggly. It's that I thought I might never get to try beurre blanc, since it's a sauce that classically goes with fish. I did discover, in reading the recipe, that it is also known to go well with certain vegetables (cauliflower, for one, but also asparagus, broccoli, etc) but without the courage to try it on fish, I might never have perused that recipe at all. I would have thought it was useless; most French sauces have ideal mates, and if you're not going to pair them properly, it might not be worth having them at all.

I'm moving on from cod. I keep going back to it because I actually like the stuff, and while that is super exciting (since it is still the only fish I've enjoyed in every preparation, not counting the time I overcooked it) I need to push my limits. This doesn't mean I won't be able to have cod from time to time. I will! That's the cool part. I might eat cod fairly regularly. But I have to eat other fishes.

Since both cod and cauliflower have become enjoyable to me, I will also have Jell-O for dessert. Though I don't hate that either. I did have a bit of a berry crisp this morning that I didn't like. I prepared it myself and I know it was technically good, but I don't really enjoy macerated berries or the products derived from them. So I'm not breaking my resolution. I'm not!

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