Monday, April 19, 2010

Salt and Pepper

This past weekend was just lovely. JavaLady, H., H.'s mother and I went wine tasting on Saturday and then H. and I made dinner for the girls. I recently bought a book called Salt & Pepper that talks about all the different types of salts and peppers and how best to cook with them. I am in the process of cleaning out my old and expired spices, and what better way to replenish seasonings than with different varieties of the basics? So that's just what I'm doing. I have bought four new things. I bought some bulk organic black peppercorns and organic white peppercorns from Whole Foods. I also bought some Himalayan pink salt-I thought the label was funny because it said as a subtitle: Primordial Salt; that's some old salt, folks. Apparently, Himalayan pink salt is harvested from 200-million-year-old-dried-up-inland seas and its pink color comes from trapped iron deposits. It's so pretty, and it's a good all-purpose salt.
The fourth item was a little difficult for me to track down. In short, I searched Charlottesvegas dry for it: pickled green peppercorns. I'd never heard of them, but several of the recipes in the book had it in them, so I hunted and called and got recommendations until the last place I went surprisingly had them. Harris Teeter. I'm an idiot. I searched every specialty store in town and no one had it except HT. Another little digression here. About a month ago, I had a dream about a mortar and pestle (That's pathetic isn't it?) and was telling H. about it because I thought it was really weird. A few days later, yours truly was the proud owner of a brand spanking new marble mortar and pestle, compliments of H., and this weekend was the first time I used it. I really shouldn't say I, because H. ended up man handling black peppercorns in it (those things are tough!). I read that if you crush them in the mortar with a pestle, they release some good oils that add great flavor, versus just grinding them; apparently it doesn't have the same effect.
Here is H. crushing black peppercorns:
We prepared sharp white cheddar, crushed black peppercorn and garlic stuffed chicken breasts...
...with roasted asparagus and cherry tomatoes with fresh, garlic-infused olive oil (that H. made last weekend) drizzled over top.
And pickled green peppercorn and Parmesan shortbread (some homemade crackers with dindin): And the finished product: Here's JavaLady enjoying a glass of vino and a shortbread while we prepared dinner.
Not pictured: Chocolate chip yogurt cake with chopped pears on top....this one's becoming a regular in my kitchen. This was the first of hopefully many salt and pepper inspired dinners that will go under the belt.

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