This post was really supposed to go out on Monday, but being a real life Mom, unexpected life got in the way. Namely an orthodontist appointment, Halloween costume shopping at the thrift store and one of my dogs got skunked. Seriously, skunked at 6:30 am and all day later, we were still trying to air out the house.
A different story last week as I luxuriously took off an afternoon, midweek with my friend Rob, to catch a screening of El Bulli: Cooking in Progress. 108 minutes of quiet food preparation disguised as a science experiment; or vice versa. Admittedly, I am familiar with Ferrán Adrià and El Bulli in part because I simply pay attention when my brother is telling me about the foreign world of professional kitchens. The concept of molecular gastronomy is not lost on me, however, I’m not sure I want to be “startled” during a 25-30 course meal of small bites. During a Sunday afternoon family meal in Puebla, Mexico, I was “surprised” when I finally remembered the English words for the salty filling in the tacos I was eating – pig’s brain – and I couldn’t carry on; I realize this moves me down the foodie pyramid.
I’ll make the move towards the expected and tell you the documentary shows the relationship between food, art and science. There is certainly an undeniable connection between cooking and science, and the film documents this process and discovery very well. Seeing a well crafted meal drawn together by a team of talented chefs as art is a natural leap. I’m going to quote my movie date verbatim, “Most of the dishes looked interesting but not appetizing. They challenged our ideas surrounding food, exposing the baggage we have about food. I’d imagine a meal at El Bulli to be a bit of a journey, almost like a funhouse maze.” These words could easily be spoken in the context of a gallery or art museum. We liked the visual presentation of experiment and the chance to take a glimpse of the team behind one of the world’s most famous restaurants.
At one point in the film, Ferrán Adrià tells his chefs something along the lines of ‘just do not give me anything that tastes bad’ – seemingly simple and something I’d like to proceed me before I arrive to dinner. This may be the only concept we can transition into the parameters of our own cooking; we all know everyday life calls for real food that is easy to prepare. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated and we are going to continue to explore that over the next few weeks.
I am going to leave you with a simple recipe that I pinched 100% from my friend Lisa, an excellent cook with impeccable taste in wine. She created this recipe for (Canadian) Thanksgiving. A perfect example of how you can make an everyday vegetable taste extraordinary with a few simple steps. Thank you Lisa for sharing this really delicious recipe with A Michelin and A Mom.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Sea Salt Flakes
Parmesan Cheese, Fresh & Grated
Heat oven to 350. Trim the ends of the sprouts and peel off any unappealing leaves. Quarter or halve (depending on size) the sprouts and soak in water, rinse and place in a bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Place in a deep baking sheet or pan and roast until the sprouts are just tender and sizzling. Some of the leaves will fall away and turn brown (eat these too!). Approximately 20 minutes – longer if you want a more traditional texture (we prefer them not too soft). Remove, place the cooked sprouts into a serving bowl, sprinkle with a little flaky sea salt and the freshly grated parmesan.
Bonus Recipe – Simple Apple Cake
This is for the Whistler ladies!
Makes 2 – 8″ round cakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
(you can cut the spices in half if you want a milder flavour)
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 an apple, grated, optional
toasted and chopped pecans, optional
Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; set aside. In your mixer, cream together butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time followed by the applesauce. Mix well. By hand, fold in the grated apple and pecans if you are adding the apples and nuts. Butter and flour your baking pans, pouring half the mixture into each pan, smoothing out the top. You can make one large cake (or a layer cake), but my kids like a high icing to cake ratio (and they like to grab and go with their cake). Ice each cake with cream cheese frosting