Thursday, May 18, 2006

.. and Totally Redeem Myself!

“You’ve done stupid things before, (insert appropriate name here), and just when I think you can’t do anything dumber, you go and do something like this ..."

"... and totally redeem yourself!!!”

Great line, from a great movie! (Guess which one). (Most people with kids will remember this.) (It’s one of those you get to watch over and over and over …)

That’s where we were. The okra leaves experiment, as blogged about yesterday, was consumed, no one died, in fact, all things considered, it was pretty tasty and healthy. Just a little thick.

But that’s just the way it is with food.

Either you hit new culinary highs, or everyone remembers it as a sort of disaster. Whatever little thing was not perfect blown up to gigantic proportions. Discussed mercilessly, at length, as if that were the only element in the dish. (OK – it was a little THICK!!).

I’m not one who is afraid to take a chance, experiment, try new things. Even though those chances can be painful.

It’s a tough world for a chef, I can tell ya'.

And I was more than a little disappointed in myself for just tossing in soooo many okra leaves. With such abandon. Where was that finely developed feel for ingredients, tastes, textures? What happened to that almost innate ability to draw out the best in ingredients, find interesting combinations that highlight the individual components while them melding into a pleasing whole?

Maybe it was never there?

And this grey June gloom weather.

So I was feeling a certain ebb in my self-confidence. A rare occurance. As it usually bubbles forth unabated. Not that there is any proven justification for this bottomless spring of confidence. Probably just a chemical imbalance.

It’s not like I was actively mopping around wondering how to redeem myself. Or desperately searching for some way out. But I was probably doing that sub-consciously.

So when I saw the sun-dried tomatoes, I grabbed them. Flavor explosion! Something everyone loves! Like an immunity card – toss some in, and nothing can go wrong!

I also had some fava beans at home. Waiting for the right inspiration. Plus a mound of slowly wilting purple Thai basil we had bought at the farmer’s market on Saturday.

And the inspiration was there. My mouth began to water as the idea formulated in my head. I could taste the different components. Feel the textures. My mental eye drank in the bright colors. Redemption. I was back!

Some fava beans, sautéed in garlic and olive oil, with sun-dried tomatoes added, along with a little broth, and then the basil. Reduced to a nice sauce, then tossed over penne, a little grated pecorino-romano on top. With garlic and basil roasted chicken breasts on the side. Nice, flavorful, colorful, balanced.

In retrospect, I am positive this has been done before. Done a million times. Written about everywhere. But it did formulate in my head, with no Internet research. So I am calling it mine. At least this version.

And suddenly, the past was gone. The green goo, as it has already been dubbed, forgotten. Everyone sitting back, stuffed, smiling, happy, talking only about how delicious it all was.

It’s a good life as a chef, let me tell ya’!

Penne with Fava Beans and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Recipe by surfindaave

1 pound penne pasta
½ cup olive oil, divided
2+ cups of shelled, peeled fava beans
1/2 to 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (mine were dry packed, not in oil. If you use the ones in oil, drain and reserve the oil, and use it for cooking the sauce)
½ cup basil, chopped into a chiffonade, plus some additional for garnish
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese, plus some extra for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the penne pasta until al dente. Drain, but do not rinse. Reserve.

While pasta is cooking, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a sautee pan over moderate heat. Sautee garlic for a minute. Add the fava beans and the tomatoes, and sautee for 5 minutes. Add a few tablespoons of broth, and continue to sautee, adding broth as necessary just to keep everything moist. Add basil, stir to combine well, sautee a few additional minutes, adding a few tablespoons of broth as necessary.

Place pasta in a large, warmed serving bowl. Spoon fava mixture on top of pasta in serving bowl. Drizzle with remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Add grated cheese, and toss well to combine. Garnish with additional chopped basil and grated cheese, if desired. Serve. Enjoy!

Garlic and Basil Roasted Chicken Breasts
Recipe by surfindaave

4 bone-in chicken breasts (bone-in keeps the chicken juicy during roasting, a boneless breast will dry out in this recipe)
½ cup basil, chopped in chiffonade
2 tbsp garlic salt
olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 425ºF.

Place chicken breasts in a bakin pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper and basil. Rub lightly into skin. Roast chicken breasts until browned, 20 to 409 minutes, depending on size of breasts (check by cutting one open at thickest point). Remove from oven. Let rest for 5 minutes. Serve. Enjoy!

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Blogger Kalyn said...

Sounds great to me.

6:56 PM  
Blogger gattina said...

your dishes are so healthy... and good! Thai (purple) basil is one of my favorite herb!

10:49 PM  
Blogger ilva said...

The pasta dish-what a great idea!

11:14 PM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Kalyn, Gattina, Ilva,

Thanks for all the comments! This was really a serendipitous moment that turned out very tasty!

7:03 PM  
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