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~ Jean-Anthelme Brillat Savarin

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Building a Dish

April 29th, 2011

I have to give credit to my friend JT (no, not Justin Timberlake, but I’ll happily be friends with him too!) for the idea of this post and a few subsequent ones. And yes, darling, I’ll definitely have a crème brûlée with your name on it one of these days!

When I build a dish, I usually start with an idea – be it a main ingredient, a dish in particular, or a concept. I consider anything from seasonal ingredients, to tradition, to the preferences of guests. For example, in my Easter post, I chose an appetizer of scallop ceviche as I wanted to have a dish with seafood in it, a nod to the tradition of serving fish at Easter.

From there I build in other ingredients with complementary flavours, textures, and colour. The scallops I used (from Whole Paycheck Foods) were so amazingly fresh that I didn’t want to obscure them with much else, and so I used a simple marinade of lemon, olive oil and shallots. Zucchini ribbons added some green colour and a juicy crunch, lemon segments brought out more of the citrus flavour in the ceviche marinade and the dressing for the zucchini, basil and mint complemented the zucchini well and added some wonderful herbaceous aromas (the majority of what we perceive as taste is acquired through our sense of smell). Pine nuts are a personal favourite ingredient, and added a final crunch to the dish. One thing I would change about this dish, after my first pass at it, would be to replace the pine nuts with a simultaneously salty and crunchy component to fully round it out.

And that, my friends, is how I build a dish in a nutshell. It’s Friday, so I wish you all a very fine weekend! My wonderful friend EL is in town for the HotDocs film festival, and I’ll be spending much of my time with her while she is here. If you have time and are in Toronto, check out the festival! There will be over 200 films shown; plenty to suit everyone!

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