foodbuzz 24x24: an all white wintry meal
I have long been intrigued with color. Some geniuses can look at the piano and 'get it' or do math in their sleep. To some, a canvas speaks to them or the sculpture is in the marble waiting to be carved free. Others are born to sing or work with their hands, have a sense of people's needs or can readily wrap their mind around litigation. Numbers dance in patterns to certain financial wizards and chefs pair flavors like notes on a piano. We all have gifts in this and that---things that make sense or come quite naturally. For me, 'color' falls in that category.
I can imagine varying colors on walls---and picture its effect. I love painting walls, especially selecting coordinated paints for an entire house. If I am in a store picking out socks, I can remember if it will match a sweater tucked in the back of my closet. When I was a little girl I would save up my money to buy colored markers---and use them until they wore out. I have always loved to play with colors (disclaimer: I didn't say it gave me a fashion sense or license for interior design... simply that I have a sense of color)---and this extends itself to food.
Yes it is fun to 'paint' with food on the plate---like adding a colorful garnish to elevate a dish. But for some reason, my current intrigue with color plus food is the challenge of a single color being pulled through an entire meal. I once wrote about an all-black menu, love the idea of all-red for Valentine's day and for this middle-of-the-winter challenge I couldn't help but nab colorless white.
The beauty of an all white, honor-the-snow meal is that color is set aside and what you are left with is the taste. It is fun to walk through a market and eyeball all the white food, mentally dismissing globes of eggplant and the glowing orange flesh of sweet potatoes. Leafy greens will have to wait. Only half a leek can earn its way onto my menu. Russet potatoes can come, white onions and chicken or a myriad of white fish. Parsnips, fennel and the flesh of a pear. Now the ideas are churning.
gin martinis & champagne truffle popcorn (recipe) crostini with white bean and roasted garlic puree (recipe) parsnip apple soup with creme fraiche (recipe below) celery root salad (recipe below) chicken Marbella with dried figs & white wine served over garlic mashed potatoes (recipe below) roasted fennel with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano (photo above; recipe) arborio rice pudding with Vin Santo poached pears (photos above; recipe) snowball cookies (recipe)
It was so fun to come up with an all-white meal... though it was hard to turn the ideas off. I could have made white chili and white sangria, pear fennel soup or a myriad of homemade ice creams (coconut, macadamia, white chocolate...). It was hard to resist a white vegetable gratin and I could have easily incorporated a cheese board. There are plenty of white beans, white rice and I it would take no arm-twisting to serve crab or scallops---maybe in handmade ravioli? Even gnocchi almost made the cut.
Perhaps I will have to host another wintery white meal soon?! Or maybe go hog-wild and pick another color to play with. What color would you choose?
Celery Root Salad serves 4-6.
1 medium celery root, peeled and cut into matchsticks 1 tart apple, peeled and cut into matchsticks 2 scallions: white part only, minced (if NOT doing an all-white meal, add some finely chopped parsley and some dried currants) juice from 1/2 lemon 1 T Dijon (I used a walla walla onion mustard) 2 tsp honey large pinch salt 3 T neutral oil (canola, grape seed) 3 T sour cream
Mix dressing: lemon, honey, Dijon, oil, salt and sour cream. Cut celery root, apple and scallions and add to dressing in bowl. Blend. To serve I formed my salad in a rectangle, drizzled olive oil in a circle on the plate, then topped it with shaved sun-chokes (white on white).
Chicken Marbella serves 6-8.
1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (skin-on) 6-8 cloves garlic 2 T dried oregano 2 tsp coriander 1 cup dried (white) figs Salt and white pepper 1/4 cup champagne vinegar (or white balsamic vinegar) 1/3 cup olive oil 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup white wine
Combine chicken and all ingredients---except sugar and wine---in Ziploc and marinate overnight. Oven to 350, fill baking dish with a single layer of the chicken and spoon on some of the marinade---including all figs. Sprinkle withe the wine and sugar and bake 45 minutes to an hour. Serve over garlic mashed potatoes and spoon pan juices on top.
Parsnip & Apple Soup serves 4.
1/2 cup apple cider (or juice) 1/2 cup half and half 3 cups chicken broth (homemade!) 5 large parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped 2 leeks, white parts only (duh) 2 shallots 3 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped kosher salt and cracked white pepper (and celery salt if you would like) 1/4 cup creme fraiche plus 1 T buttermilk (when NOT serving as an all-white meal, garnish with minced chives)
cook leeks and shallots in olive oil over low---about 5-7 minutes---until translucent. Toss in apples and parsnip, season with salt and pepper---and celery salt if using. Stir and let cook a few minutes, then add apple juice (no apple juice? Use cider or apple brandy) and let cook another 3-5 minutes. Add broth and simmer 10-12 minutes until apples/parsnips are tender. Puree, then add cream and simmer until heated through. Combine creme fraiche (or sour cream) and buttermilk in squirt bottle and drizzle on soup to serve.
Note: my guests for this meal were our neighbors---Eric, Heather and Mia (7 year old daughter). Eric made us lovely gin martinis; Heather is holding soup in B&W photo. Mia brought a special matching doll. My husband James and son Anthony are pictured in the top black and white photos. Caleb (son) and myself didn't make it into the pics this time;).
*Foodbuzz 24x24 is a monthly challenge where 24 bloggers cook 24 meals and post them over 24 hours. As a Foodbuzz featured publisher, I am invited to submit ideas for approval and receive a small stipend. It is a fun exercise when selected. You can read my previous 24x24 meals here: 1. an all-jar feast, 2. returning to America (after a year abroad) and 3. my experience cooking in a farmhouse in Southern Tuscany.