Monday, June 13, 2011

Back to Basics

Well, here we are in a condo in Aspen for 3 weeks. As is normal for such rentals, the kitchen is pretty well-equipped but NO food at all is left between occupants. I've done this in temporary condos before -- stocking a pantry and frige without spending a fortune on stuff that will be thrown away when I leave.

This is a real challenge. How can one make simple meals with only a few ingredients. Home cooked food can use better materials, as I discussed in the previous post. But how to give them full-scale flavor? I thought I would keep track of what I did to try to make food that we'll like better than restaurant food.

The nearest market (half a block from here) is called City Market, but it's really a Krogers. Last night when we first arrived, I bought some flavored rolls, sliced beef (of my preferred brand, Applegate), gruere cheese, a tub of whipped butter, and prepared potato salad. For dessert: strawberries and cookies. I also bought a box of cereal, coffee, milk, and orange juice. Somehow I brought my Trader Joe's Himalayan salt grinder with me.

Tonight I needed to start cooking. Happily, City Market had a special on wild-caught Alaska salmon that they said came in today. I bought a pound of the salmon, various vegetables, a sour-dough bread, and three basics: olive oil, vinegar, and mustard. In the apartment's handy no-stick pan, I seared the salmon in a bit of olive oil, salted it a little, and covered it til done. Then I swirled in a spoonful of my butter and a splash of wine from my glass. (We had one bottle of Santa Barbara white wine that we babied in the hot car for the whole week on the way here!) Salad: avocado, lettuce, fresh cilantro leaves, tomato, and classic vinaigrette I made from the oil, vinegar, and mustard. The bread was good with a sop of the butter sauce -- after all, we're at home.

Yes! The flavor of the simply-prepared never-frozen Alaska salmon beats every piece of fish I've recently tasted in any restaurant. The salad is fresher. And the total dinner is lighter and more enjoyable -- at least I think so. I'll be using the oil, vinegar, mustard, and cilantro in lots of ways.

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