Monday, February 7, 2011

Day Thirty-Eight: All Hail the Well Composed Dish

Let me preface tonight's post a little bit. I know I tout the glory of Food Network a whole lot, and let me reassure you, they are not paying me. In fact, I feel a little bit like a dupe when I go on and on about them, their shows, their magazine, but in all honesty, it was Food Network that taught me to cook. My mother taught me a few things, but cooking was never a huge interest for her. Later, when she'd gotten into the hospitality business, she got me interested in things like red wine reductions, though we both had to sort of blindly figure out what that meant (she used to work with chef Gavin Kaysen, who I doubt had time for many cooking lessons what with busy nights at the restaurant and his stint on The Next Iron Chef--more Food Network, I know). My grandma on my dad's side was known for her breads, cinnamon rolls, divinity, etc. but she didn't really work from recipes and she passed before cooking really became an interest of mine. That saddens me now. Once I was humming Johnny Cash's "I Walk the Line" while hunting for ingredients at my parents' house, and my dad told me she used to sing that while she was cooking, too. It wasn't until I was married and unemployed that I really took an interest in cooking, and at first it was really just a way of keeping myself company. I turned on the Food Network and let Paula Deen babble about fried okra while I made jewelry or tried to write (I know it's weird to have background noise while writing but it works for me...sometimes). And, well, I started to watch the shows. It was Halloweentime and a lot of the recipes appealed to the kid in me. Then I got interested in techniques, especially knife skills, since I was at that point a hopeless chopper. And the rest, as they say, is history.

So here comes the reason for that huge, much-longer-than-I-expected-it-to-be preface. Tonight's dinner comes from Food Network magazine (again). Tuna and beans and kale, oh my!

It was absolutely delicious, actually, despite containing tuna and kale (while I have now officially enjoyed kale, I still had never cooked it until tonight). It was a bit of a complicated recipe as far as prep goes, but I enjoy chopping, slicing, and dicing, and I absolutely love putting small quantities of things into my little glass prep bowls (it appeals to my left brain, I think). And my husband had a bit of a revelation tonight, too. He likes tuna but he hates celery and grape tomatoes, both of which are contained in this dish. I think that tuna (the canned kind--I haven't tried it fresh) and celery are natural buddies, but he doesn't even put celery in his tuna salad. And grape tomatoes can have an over-sour quality, but I think they work in a lot of dishes. Here, he had to admit that they were both delicious. So maybe we're both making progress. I like tuna and kale; he likes grape tomatoes and celery. All hail the well composed dish.