As I've scribbled here before, I like to cook. My approach in the kitchen swings from improvisational and intuitive to cookbook digging and implementing, the latter fueling the former. During my current summer-reading binge, I scarfed down Seven Spoons by Tara O'Brady. It's a delightfully narrative book. I also enjoyed how the author scatters insightful nuggets of why amid all the what and how. My biggest take-away, though: the alchemy of sauces.
Picture a humble bowl of fruit and plain yogurt (perhaps less humble when bulked up overnight into pudding with chia seeds, as O'Brady directs). Drizzle that with what she calls "Golden Honey Elixir" and, next thing you know, you'll be hijacking Shakespeare. Because: The sauce's the thing that makes the dish sing.
For the elixir, stir these ingredients together and let them hang out for at least 30 minutes: 3/4 cup honey, 3 tbs grated ginger, 2 tbs cider vinegar, zest of 1 lemon, 1 tbs + 1 tsp turmeric, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Let's keep the word play and recipe sharing going with a second UFO - Unexpectedly Flavorful Object! This sauce, O'Brady ribbons over fried chicken, which she evocatively calls "bee-stung." I went off label and glazed grilled pork chops with its sweet-spicy goodness.
For this condiment, combine 3 tbs butter with 3 tbs honey in a small pot over low heat. When that melts together, stir in 2 tbs Korean pepper paste (gochujang - trickier to procure, but if there's an Asian market in your town, you're set). Add to the mix 1 more tsp of heat (O'Brady touts a Korean pepper powder called gochugaru; I used cayenne, which she offered as an alternative) and 1/2 clove of garlic (O'Brady says grated; I minced and - gasp - used a whole clove, albeit a small one). Pour this syrupy concoction over the meat, and happiness ensues.
In these recipes and others, O'Brady reminded me of sauces' heady magic to transform what lies beneath. I see a metaphor to apply when wearing my other hat as teacher designing lessons, but that's a topic for a different blog entry. Mean time, if you're looking for kitchen inspiration, check out Seven Spoons -- itself a blog as well as a book.