Storyboard: Salt

Storyboard: Salt (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

Salt

Many of us see salt as a common pantry ingredient, a necessity. We don’t think about it too much. We’re not aware of how salt is produced or who works hard all day to make sure this product is available for our dinner table. We’re not too concerned with working conditions or how salt harvesting methods affect the environment.

This week while researching salt, I had a light bulb moment.

I realized that salt can be a hand-harvested, artisanal product. Salt is no different than other products like coffee, tea, cheese, meat and poultry. Why would I strive to support small organic farms and cast a blind eye towards artisanal salts? Talk about a compartmentalized view!

After reading the book Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with recipes, I began to see salt through Mark Bitterman’s eyes. He writes that salt is “a natural, whole food, intimately tied to a place and a way of life.” I realized that by seeking out hand-crafted salts, we support a market of diversity, preserve traditions, and promote sustainability.

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Cook in the Moment: Gray Sea Salt & Grilled Lamb

The Food

I have something really special to share with you today! It’s a recipe, and it has changed my world a little bit. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? I sat down at my desk to brainstorm a recipe that features salt as a very important ingredient. This was tough. Writing about salt is like writing about the universe, God, mankind. . . where do you start? It’s so big. I flipped through some cookbooks and eventually came across a recipe in the book, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes. Mark Bitterman’s recipe for Buttermilk Leg of Lamb with the Meadow Sel Gris totally seduced me. He writes,

“We’ve domesticated the gaminess out of most everything we eat, but every time we toss a leg of lamb on the fire we grow bushy and wild, our countenance waxing fierce amid the ghostly tendrils of burning fat and smoky mountain herbs. And after we toil over the flaming coals, the table is laid, the tapers lit, the dark wine poured. Aromatic and crackling-golden on the outside; savagely, voluptuously rosy on the inside- a leg of lamb is a meal of the ages.

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10 Ways Tuesday: Salt

Salt (c)2011 LaDomestique.com

I’ve got creative ways for cooking with salt during summer:

 

1.  Salsa & Chutney

In Think Like a Chef, Tom Colicchio writes that salt ” interacts with flavors of ingredients and your taste buds, “waking” up everything along the way. This is especially noticeable in a dish that is both sweet and sour.” He uses a Green Tomato Chutney to illustrate the point. The chutney is full of vibrant ingredients like jalapeño, ginger, bell pepper and vinegar as well as sugar and spices.Tom recommends tasting the completed dish, then adding a couple of grains of salt at a time, tasting to observe how the flavors change. This is intuitive cooking. Learning by doing, sensing, paying attention. Mango Salsa with Hawaiian Black Lava Salt from the book Salted is another recipe where finishing salt really shines. Not only does the black lava salt liven up the fresh flavors in the salsa, it also provides visual and textural stimulation. Stimulate your senses- that’s what cooking is all about.

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Ingredient of the Week: Salt

Salt is considered the most essential pantry ingredient used year-round in cooking. However, I think this ingredient truly shines during summer. Take a look at the video above announcing salt as the ingredient of the week. I’m excited to cook in the moment with you, using salt to bring out the best in the bounty of summer. Thanks for watching!

Do you have a favorite salt I must try? Let me know in the comments section. Click here.

 

Sunday Series: Gathering, A table for two

A Table for Two

 

Gathering can be lively and stimulating, like a group of friends engaged in passionate conversation. . .  but sometimes it’s nice to share a moment of quiet at a table for two. You don’t have to slave over a multi-course meal for the gathering to be special. Last night the husband and I sat on our balcony, taking in the last rays of the setting sun. It was warm outside, but a cool breeze passed over us. I could feel autumn whispering in my ear.

I had just returned from my community garden plot with a harvest of delicate squash blossoms. Carefully, my hands tucked a spoonful of goat cheese into each trumpet-shaped flower. I dipped the squash blossoms in silky batter and fried them in oil. As the blossoms turned golden I plucked them from the hot oil, giving each a sprinkling of lemon juice and sea salt. The husband poured two glasses of wine. Outside at our table for two we quietly enjoyed this little treat from the garden. He said, “This is good.” I agreed. It was a beautiful moment.

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