So I’m in a great mood today, been that way all week! Why you ask, well I’m leaving tonight for San Francisco – for a weekend combing my three favorite things, food, music, and travel. On top of that I get be it in my favorite city in the world. Yes the world – and I’ve been to some great places. The bay area has so much to offer. Incredible global cuisine, music, outdoor activities, gorgeous women, art – you name it The City has it! Generally when I travel I try to not have any significant plans, instead letting the city dictate where I eat and what I do. That said, I’ll give a full dining rundown of my journey next week.
While I’m talking about the bay area, I want to talk about a situation that was brought to my attention earlier this week by a friend that lives up there. The Super Market Overload – my friend had gone to Whole Foods to pick up some grub for dinner that night and upon walking in the door she was struck by the “culinary retard lightning.” CRL is something that I hear about often, when the concept of cooking for one’s self comes up people mentally shut down. She texted me 15 minutes after entering and said she had strawberries, a tomato & some cheese in her basket and had no idea what the hell to make for herself. I am the first to admit, it’s somewhat challenging to cook for just one or two people. My family makes fun of me that I’m incapable of cooking for less than 15 people, that’s mainly due to years cooking on a massive scale in professional kitchens (yes I am making excuses!)
So let’s talk about this – when you’re cooking for just one or two people, remember you’re only cooking for a couple fukn people, there’s no need to get 5 pounds of steak and a bag of potatoes! Get in the mindset that you only need probably one or two max of everything. I don’t eat leftovers (that’s my dad’s fault) typically, so I try to think about how much of something I’m actually going to eat for that meal. Example if I get a 16oz ribeye then I’m probably not going to need a massive potato and a pile of veggies. Plus usually when I cook by the time the meals ready I’m not that hungry anymore from TASTING THE FOOD WHILE I COOK – remember that tip anyone!? The point here is buy less than you think you need, Americans eat too much anyways which is why we’re all obese and dying of heart disease!
Ok so let’s do this. Take a walk w/ me through the market and I’ll show you how to not end up w/ a basket of crap that doesn’t go together and you end up just pulling through In&Out on the way home like my compadre did the other night (which is not a bad thing either but whatever – this is about cooking). Think about this, the American diet is based on 3 things. Pretty much protein, veggie & starch. This is your foundation, once you get these elements picked out you can throw all the truffle oil and cheese you want to at it!
Start at the meat/seafood department, walk up and down the case twice. Now pick whatever looked the most appealing to you. Yes, it’s that simple if it piques your interest or carnivorous desire go with it. Now that you’ve got that in the basket, how the hell are you going to cook it? For barebones simplicity you have 3 options: grill it, sear it on the stovetop, or bake/roast it. Yes, again it is that easy. Cooking is about fundamentals. Learn those and you can pretty much make anything (outside baking and pastry stuff which I’ll probably never tell you about b/c I don’t like making that kinda shit). Yeah there are a myriad of other cooking methods but these are the basics so no need for all you culinary wizards to email me saying there’s more than 3 ways to cook protein! For this exercise we’re going to go with a small pork tenderloin and grill it.
Ok now we’ve got the protein/meat/seafood, so move onto the produce isle. Again walk up and down a couple times. What looks good? What goes w/ the protein you’ve got in the basket? I prefer to start w/ veggie over starch, but that’s b/c I really like vegetables. Since I’m grilling the the pork, I’m feeling asparagus – also grilled.
Starchville – there are a lot of different ways you can go w/ your starch here: wild rice, baked potato, mashed potato, some cheese grits, etc. Right now I’m kinda off potatoes but I love mashed potatoes, so I’m going w/ an alternative to this, ie. Cauliflower puree! Ooh danger Will Robinson!!! No, not at all this is easy and really tasty. I love making this for people that tell me they hate cauliflower, the pale distant cousin of broccoli (probably why I like it!)
Ok so it’s done, Grilled pork tenderloin w/ grilled asparagus and cauliflower puree – this is the foundation of the meal, probably costs less than $20 and took us a ficticious 30 minutes max in the store and we didn’t even wander into that “strange cheese no-man’s land!”
Light your grill before you do anything!!!
We’ll start w/ the cauliflower – remove all green leaves & stems first. Now chop the head into chunks, size doesn’t matter but try to make them all the same size. Take 1 yellow onion and chop it (size doesn’t matter, remember if the recipe says “puree” don’t worry about fancy chopping b/c you’re just gonna put it in the blender at some point so why waste time.) Now in a big soup pot, take 1/4 cup of butter over medium-high heat and add onion. Cook onion until it becomes translucent. Now add in your chopped cauliflower and stir a bit. Add in enough skim milk(any milk will do) to just cover the veggies. Simmer & stir this until the cauliflower can be mashed w/ the back of a spoon. Strain out the onion & cauliflower from the milk, but reserve this cooking liquid. Put the cauliflower & onion into the blender about 1/2 full (don’t fill all the way unless you enjoy being burned by flying cauliflower magma!) Hit the switch on the blender, if needed, add a LITTLE bit of the cooking liquid into the blender to get things moving. The key here is to not add too much liquid or your puree will become soup (which is also a kick ass dish!) Now stick your finger in it and taste. Does it need anything, damn right it needs some Slavo Salt! Also if you’ve got it, stir in some truffle oil this makes the flavor of the puree explode!
Right so you’ve got your bunch of asaparagus – take a knife and cut the bottom 2 inches off the bunch(this part is a bit woody & fiberous). Lay the asparagus out on to a sheet tray and lightly spray w/ Pam and season w/ Slavo Salt. Set aside.
For the pork, remove it from its packaging, rinse off in the sink and pat dry w/ towels (unless you got one of those tasty pre-marinated numbers). Season the tender well, guess what I like to use here???
Alrighty, slap you tenderloin down on the grill for about 2 minutes. After 2-3 minutes flip it over and let it go anopther 2-3 minutes or so. When you flip the meat, put your asparagus down on the grill too. I need to say this, asparagus SHOULD NOT have the flexability of a shoe-string!!!! As the asparagus cooks, move it around a bit so you cook it on all sides but again don’t over cook it – a little crunch is good! Pull the asparagus when it’s done.
Listen up, with your fingers squeeze the lower part of your forearm just above the wrist. Now squeeze the tenderloin, if it feels about the same pull it off and you’ll have a nice medium rare (yes you can eat pork mid-rare). Now after you pull the meat off the grill let it sit 10 minutes without cutting into it, this will make it really juicy and delicious. After 10 minutes, slice away!
To serve spoon the puree on to the center of the plate. Lay the asparagus down the middle of the puree and lay the sliced pork out along the sides of the asparagus teepee style.
Enjoy this w/ a bottle of Pinot Noir. Cheers!