Wednesday, August 1, 2012

in a pickle...

...or, rather, whats not in a pickle--i forgot the salt. A big ol batch of meyer lemon pickled cauliflower sans sel. Curse words.

Thats really all there is to say about that. The jars are sealed and will stay that way until the day when cauliflower is sadly no longer available locally, i crack some open, and remember about this bit of sparkling wine induced foolishness (i had already canned rainer cherries in GMonk Brut, but only used half the bottle if you follow).

There is more to say, however, about that combination: cauliflower and meyer lemons. Two of my favorite things, it turns out, are madly in love with each other. And when they get a little racy and invite salmon over for dinner...well, its an exciting little menage et trois.

I cannot get enough of this combination, duo or trio, these days, eating it in one way or another for probably, oh, the last eight days. There was an omlette, quinoa salad with almonds, a pile of chickpeas, an addition of wild nettles, plenty of the pickles (salted and not), and just the three, together, for dinner, at my place. Racy.

Now here is where this sexy cauliflower tale becomes a bit long winded/sidetracked--yes, thats right, cauliflower can be sexy, especially with meyer lemon. The salmon is blushing... Anyways, though i may have my Red Seal, though i may be a "chef," i have very little technical skill in the kitchen (i said i was side-tracking). My knife skills simply describe my ability to hold onto a knife while moving it through something--they do not detail speed, accuracy, precision, or efficiency, being able to sharpen this knife, nor simply choosing the correct knife to hold onto for the thing through which i am to move it. Classical preparation is not for me, though the more time i spend at the pans online, the more refined i become (so long as i am not holding a knife...). What i do excel at as a "chef" is not so much a skill as a lucky little gift: my palate. I get flavours, almost intuitively, and i creatively (and, admittedly, sometimes classically) foster dishes that "work;" in other words, meals that combine together for a taste that blows your mind. Thats my contribution to the kitchen, and i am quite proud of it (and content to pass the preparation off to anyone who wants to make my ideas come to life...).
But the flavour combination of salmon with cauliflower and meyer lemon, that blew my mind.

And it has not been blown like that since peas and sage. Oh sweet tender peas with woodsy sage--lovely. Add a little dry salty cheese and potato gnocchi and you have spring comfort in a bowl--which i had at least once a week three springs ago, and a little less often every spring since discovering the idea in the Chez Panisse vegetable cookbook. Alot of the knowledge i have for flavours comes from this source, not just the veggie cookbook (my bible as i like to refer to it), but the rest of the CP collection, and the daily online cafe menu--the very source of my most recent menage et trois obsession (...not that there are less recent menage et trois obsessions...). Salmon with spinach, cauliflower, and meyer lemon relish was all the menu said, but it was enough for me to interpret. And bam, there blew my mind.

I am sorry though, that as i write this to you, meyer lemons are basically impossible to find here. They are in their glory during the late winter/early spring months, when i stock up on the floral citrus fruit, turning it into curd, marmalade, preserved lemons, un-salted pickles, and zesting every last one of them into a little baggie in my freezer. Regular lemons just do not compare. I am down to my last one. It has been zested ( i can work a zester with much more ease than any knife, by the way), and squeezed a little bit to finish tonights rendition: the threesome on a pile of buckwheat couscous. I will miss that last little lemon when it is all squeezed out.

At least though, i have my pickles...with a side of salt.

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