Life’s being as busy as it gets, but food still being served on time even after a long day, although sometimes it’s just a simple sandwich along with a bowl of hearty soup.
I found this precious cooking ingredient on the other day–Spanish Iberico pork loin–of course it’s something you will only treat yourself once in a while, but it’s definitely worth every single penny and it almost brings you a whole different sensation. To me, it’s gone beyond the taste of pork, should we call it something else then? I’ve never had a piece of fresh Iberico pork before, Spanish cured Iberico ham is all I know about this kind of pig, and I always wonder how ham could possibly be this delicious with a melt-in-mouth texture, and a rich intense flavor that will meandering on your taste bud after a while. Now, I get it. Start with ingredient this good, it just wouldn’t go wrong. Lucky Spanish!
I made an elaborate dish to celebrate this gorgeous piece of meat. Pan fried Iberico pork loin with French fingerling mash, puree of young peas, and grape-port reduction. The vibrant green, the deep burgandy pan sauce, the scattered dressed raw young peas…made the dish so scrumptious.
Life is a celebration with a plate of Spanish Iberico pork loin and a glass of Sauterns.
Having said that, the second batch of our Iberico meat is truly a celebration of its pure sensation: plainly grilled to perfection with a pale pinky center, just a touch of Fleur De Sel and freshly ground pepper to season. No fancy embellishment–five minutes on a sizzling Le Creuset grill mark pan is all it needs–it just could be the best thing on its own!
A good sandwich is always satisfying and comforting. I made mine this time with spinach puree, (blanch your baby greens in boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds, refresh under cold water, then squeeze all the water out of it, add enough good extra virgin olive oil, Fleur De Sel and pepper and whiz it into a fine puree in a small food processor.) Sear some seasoned chicken tenders till just cooked through, keep warm. I could never bring myself wasting any sticky brown essence of the chicken left on the bottom of the pan, so I deglazed it with a good splash of good white wine (keep it in mind that you’re concentrating the flavor of the wine, always use wine that you will drink out of a glass!) Let it bubble away until syrupy, add a little chicken broth, reduce a little, whisk in a spoonful of creme fraiche. Now you have your creamy sauce. You’re not gonna get much of it, but the flavor is so rich and concentrated. I built up my sandwich using the basic of my favorite Pain de Champagne, which is lightly brushed with good olive oil and toasted, then a layer of the spinach puree, chicken tenders torn in pieces, the thick pan sauce, and generous chunks of creamy Camembert cheese.
To go with the sandwich, I made a spiced pumpkin soup with honeyed cream and toasted almonds. Dry toasted fennel seeds, cumin seeds and caraway seeds are pounded into fine powder (use you pestle and mortar) and added into the base of the soup. It’s perfectly fine to leave out the spices, but they do give a lovely warm, sweet and exotic note to the soup. The honeyed cream is actually the leftover from the plum upside down cake, but guess what? I think I just found another perfect marriage!
I got an array of great stuff enough to make an elegant display of antipasti, plus I really want to show off the two-tier cake stand I just got. Fennel salami, Brazil figs, Parmigiano Reggiano, green olives, soft Camembert, and of course, good crusty country bread. (God, I’m crying out for California black mission figs!! They’re always super sweet with syrupy juice bursting out of the soft purple skin. The Brazil one is the only kind available in Hong Kong, it’s not sweet at all, rather tough skin, and it almost has a grassy herbal taste to it. I had to give it a big drizzle of Spanish blossom honey to make it a bit more pleasant to eat.)
I was clearing up my fridge, and found a little bowl of leftover artichoke risotto from last week, so I made myself a little snack–crispy risotto cake, and it’s surprisingly good!
My brother is a picky eater when it comes to veggies, is it a guy thing? I wonder. So here’s the fix for him to get the daily dose of fiber: stir fried green bean with minced pork and cured olive leaves. And he finished the entire plate!
Too busy to squeeze out any dessert the past week, all I managed to make is a hazelnut-ricotta crumble cake with rasberry and blood plum.