Thursday, July 2, 2009

Something Novel...

The other night Lissa said to me, "Let's go to the store and get something neither one of us has never had," to which my response was, "Hells yeah!" Then she was all, "For reallys?", and I was like, "yuuuup".....O.K., sorry about that, the 'hells yeah' barely brung me back to my middle school days in San Jo.

So, where was I? Yes, something novel to eat... I tend to eat this way by default, so it was somewhat difficult to locate items that I had never consumed (since we were at our local gringo health food store and not Hankook Supermarket in Sunnyvale) and broadened our aim to include items I may have eaten but never cooked with.

We found some Taro root in the produce section, and it jumped right in to our shopping basket. I glanced around the seafood department but it was all too familiar. A stroll through the meat department, though, yielded...ground Buffalo! Never cooked Buffalo before. Never cooked Taro before. Mission (half) accomplished. Now, to cook it.

I flashed to a fabulous cookbook I have called A Return to Cooking, by Eric Ripert and Michael Ruhlman. I recalled a recipe for Shepherd's Pie using some sort of root and I thought it may have been Taro. Alas, upon my return home with novel grocery in tow, I opened this gorgeous book to reveal the recipe Blood Sausage and Yuca Shepherd's Pie. No matter, I was planning on improvising in any case and it was Shepherd's Pie that we were to eat!

The first step was to whip the Taro, and I decided to add a couple of Potatoes as well. Peel, dice, boil, drain, mash, add creamy stuff. Pretty straight forward, just like making mashed potatoes. Taro, we read, is easily digestible and very nutritious, containing high amounts of fiber, protein, calcium and phosphorous! As I peeled it, I noticed how very sticky (starchy) the flesh was, the same held true once I mashed it up with the potato. This would have undoubtedly been a superior medium for the mountain-sculpting scene in Close Encounters of a Third Kind. For the creamy goodness I was not shy, adding a big dollop of mascarpone along with a hunk of Triple-Cream Brillat-Savarin with Truffles, wooo-woooooooo (shout-out to Bubb Rubb and Lil Sis). I must add, too, that the Triple-Cream Truffle Cheese was FREE! I asked the man working at the specialties department in our local Whole Foods for something...(you guessed it) novel, and he says, "get this...goat cheese with truffles. You'll love it." He inquired about our menu for the night, and as I explained the dealy-o, he took out a 'try it on us' sticker and slapped it on another hunk o' cheese, the triple-cream (customer service, man). Big love, Larry!

On to the Bison! As I would have sautéed and simmered beef, so did I prepare the Buffalo. Diced onion, minced garlic, a little minced ginger, tomato paste, some chipotle chili, red wine, salt and pepper (see note below). Simmer. Simple.

Note: Since we were selecting novelty grocery items, my lover decided to try some Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt (left). To keep in step, I pulled out my Australian Black Peppercorns (below), which have a kind of mild, fruity spice to them.

If only I had a couple of ring molds! The assembly was a bit tricky, because I used bowls for my molds and then turned the pies out. However, our sticky little whip did not want to drop, even though I oiled the bowl up real good like. Eventually they dropped, and it wasn't too messy I suppose. Here's the pretty picture:

A simple green salad with some carrot, and you have yourself an adventurous little meal. Next time we'll have to shop at Hankook or some other Ethnic Market where I don't even know what it is I'm buying!! Thanks to my wonderful girlfriend Lissa for the inspiration and the willingness to eat novelly.

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