Ugh… the dark side of spring just popped me a good one… normally, people catch themselves a cold when the temperatures are on their way down the scale. I on the other hand, evidently unable to stick to the norm in this area, have to take the gravelly path and go down with a case of the nasties when the first wave of warmth is rolling across the country.
Every so often, the simplest ideas presented to me by the Tyrian Chef’s Guild send me way, way back in time in my headspace. This time, a seemingly nondescript dish, a Poultry and Winter Vegetable Soup, reminded me of a certain dish I haven’t cooked up in years for… well, no apparent reason, really. This dish has been a well-loved, classic winter dish in our family ever since I can remember.
You guys didn’t really think I’d go to a fantastic place like Madeira and come home empty-handed when it comes to food-related things! I know, it took a few weeks, but you can’t rush a delicious meal, or the recipes for it, right? Anyways, during the first couple of days on that wonderful island, I really thought I’d return without showstoppers in my recipe notebook – not because the food was bad, mind you, almost everything we had was absolutely delicious – but because the traditional Madeiran cuisine we indulged in is a very no-nonsense one.
As my november’ly share of the flu is slowly fading, my poor nose turned-glow-in-the-dark finally isn’t visible from out of space anymore and my tastebuds are picking up their work again, I think the right time has come to kickstart my system as well as my kitchen with something healthy and quick to make, something seasonal and packed with enough aromas to bring back the last stubborn tastebuds from their goo-induced slumber.
Here we go again~! Another one of those Tyrian recipes that instantly make one of this side’s culinary world’s most classic dishes pop up in my head… Canard à L’Orange. Well, usually I’d jump at the chance to follow the rules for once, but I tried this one at home and at various restaurants time and time again, just to be disappointed… for some reason the Duck-Sauce-Potato’y Side-Combo never got better – not that it’s a bad dish in itself, mind you, the classic composition just turned out not to be my cup of tea after all.
One fine day, around lunch time, about 2 years ago, I spotted the Poultry and Leek Soup recipe in the list at the Chef’s Guild and felt the sudden urge to have a bowl of something along those lines on this side of the screen. Pronto. Somewhat blindsided by this unexpected assault on my carefully laid-out lunch-plans, I dashed over to the store and grabbed everything I could possibly need to bring chicken and leeks together in a delicious dish.
I never know whether to laugh or to cry when I read or hear about some airhead chef trying to sell Thai cuisine as the quickest way to prepare food known to humankind. That’s true… to some extent. After you’ve finished chopping, grinding, cleaning, slicing and all that jazz… yes, after all that, everything’s a quick-fix. Must be nice to have hordes of kitchen underlings to do the prep work for you…
As I was trying to get some sort of order into my personal collection of recipes, marking the ones I wanted to use for specific months or seasons for the blog I realized I might be running into some minor snags down the road, during the summer stretches in particular. The last couple of summers quite literally left us standing out in the rain until halfway through, then came crashing in with record temperatures without even as much as a „How do you do?“, causing havoc left, right and center for 2-3 weeks, just to poof out of existence with temperature drops from 40°C to 12°C in a matter of 1-2 days.
I’m always on the lookout for new ingredients to play around with, having an extra eye out for lean and healthy meats. Quite some time ago, ostrich was being marketing’ed all over the place every time the words “health”, “shape” and “alternative for chicken” popped up. Ironically you couldn’t get a hold of the stuff anywhere outside of a ponzy restaurant. Up until about 2 or 3 years ago, after which it became much more common, ostrich steaks sometimes appeared as a highly overpriced rarity during BBQ season, ready marinated and prepped for convenient use. I really, really don’t like approaching a new ingredient if it’s already been messed with, especially if it’s doused in „marinades“ or „sauces“ of questionable origin and flavor that usually come with a ton of don’t-worry-about-its in them, so I ignored these birds for a while.
Late last October ArenaNet finally released the long awaited expansion Heart of Thorns. Since there’s usually a couple of recipes released with every chapter of the living story or the various festivals, I should have known something was coming my way. I only took note of the recipes for sale in the new areas in passing though, firmly in the grips of the new chapters and all the wild, new things going on all over the place. Little. Kid. Locked. In. A. Candy. Store.