Taste & Technique
Doing It Right Isn't Easy
If this speaks to you, read on. French in influence but modern in philosophy, Taste & Technique provides an opportunity for home cooks to kick it up a notch. There’s soufflé, confit, and seared duck breast. But also Blistered Cauliflower with Anchovy, Garlic and Chili Flakes, Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Pickled Mustard Seeds and Sherry-Glazed Pork Belly.
I “know” Naomi Pomeroy from Top Chef Masters. As a successful restauranteur in Portland Oregon, her experience comes through. The recipes are clear and the techniques are insightful. I tried Buckwheat Crepes with Sautéed Apples and Toffee Sauce and not only was this dish amazing, the instructions were excellent. I have made crepes many times but Pomeroy’s suggestions for simultaneously pouring and swirling the batter in the pan made all the difference, as did her technique for caramelizing the apples.
I also made Caramelized Lentils du Puy, which were the best lentils I have ever had (a low bar maybe but I like lentils). Pomeroy’s instructions for cooking the lentils were bang on. The lentils were tossed with sautéed mirepoix (diced carrots, onions and celery) and caramelized with a glaze of red wine, garlic, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, tomato paste and anchovy paste. An amazing amount of flavour was coaxed out of that glaze. We paired the lentils with some garlic shrimp and Quick Sautéed Greens with Garlic, Lemon Confit and Chili Flakes. A great dinner.
However. Pots and pans multiplied. The crepes and the lentils took a great deal of time to prepare. Further, this is billed as a book for home cooks at all levels. I have to disagree. While there are some straightforward recipes, many of the recipes are complex and a certain level of competence is helpful in preventing said home cook from throwing the book against the kitchen wall. I was interested in the Lemon Confit and Fried Caper Relish. Lemon Confit is an ingredient in a number of recipes, as is the Relish. But the Lemon Confit takes 24 hours, 2 cups of olive oil and the rinds of 3 lemons. The capers for the relish require another 1½ cups of oil for frying. While the Lemon Confit would surely elevate the Sole Piccata, an otherwise straightforward recipe, I gave up.
I was also interested in the Smoky Tomato Veloute with Parmesan Straws. But this is quite a production, requiring onions that need to be smoked. It may be easy, but it is also time consuming and an integral part of the recipe. No shortcuts here.
There are some quicker recipes, and if you plan properly, you can make all the confitures, relishes and confits that you like. No doubt these will enhance your cooking. Input of effort = output of great results. You can also use it for inspiration, food porn, or as a gift. Choose what works for you.