Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Taste of Home

I'd be lying if I said that I've had a hard time dreaming up specials lately. Truth be told: I have enough completed dishes to get me through the next month, and that doesn't even include ideas based on those wonderful "blips" of produce that quickly surface in the market (Lobster Mushrooms anyone??). So why the long list? It is the inspiration of that first chilly day, where the leaves turn crisp and jingle in the breeze and when the bounty of produce begins to peak; it is in fact my favorite time of year.

This is the time of the year where we get to view another side of my style of cooking - rich and bold flavors mingling with familiar ingredients to impart the fundamental sense of home; not just my home, and not just your home, but any home. With years of living in different areas of this great country and with its many influences I have found that, though the regions and the people differ, the soul of the food remains the same, and with that thought in mind, I came up with this:

I started the dish by sauteing large pieces of rockfish, which I love for it's almost shrimp/lobster texture while still staying flaky, like a fish should. Next I wanted to combine something traditionally American with what is unconventionally American, so I made a base of roasted sugar pie pumpkins pureed with garlic, onions and a touch of allspice and blended it with red Thai curry paste and some coconut milk for richness.

To finish the dish I went with a Guamanian preparation of pickled papaya that I used to form a salad along with red bell pepper, scallion, jujube (a.k.a. Chinese date) and fresh cilantro to offset the lusciousness of the pumpkin curry, and topped it all off with toasted papaya and pumpkin seeds for even more crunch and flavor.

~ ~ ~

Once I had this week's special finalized, I knew that I had to come up with a cocktail that is also both conventional and unconventional, and then it struck me.

No cocktail has been more prevalent in America in the last decade than the ubiquitous Cosmopolitan, a blend of cranberry juice, lime juice, vodka and triple sec. So I replaced the lime juice and triple sec for lychee nectar, which not only rearranged the whole characteristic of the drink, but actually formulated a cocktail to pair with my special!!

Try them seperate or taste them together, either way you'll feel right at home.

With Love,