Sunday, July 24, 2011

Investing in cheese and omelet play
It’s funny how compulsive friends just find each other. A low-carb expert I know uses the freshest ingredients available, and she figured her bags of bob’s Red Mill almond meal/flour were “about to go bad.” They have a sell-by date of February of 2012, which is more than plenty of time in my pantry. So, she passed some to me and my instincts were right. It says on the label it’s good for sweets, so I right away imagined whipping a tablespoon of flour into an egg for a crepe-like presentation. I added cheese (see below), berries and agave nectar for an evening meal, tried it again the following breakfast, and planned ahead to do the same for dinner and the next day’s breakfast. Sometimes I added walnuts. Just my plan to continue perfecting this dish shows I’m as compulsive as my friend. What fun experimentation.

And now for the cheese:
A smidge of something great is usually preferred over a lot of so-so product. I was just telling my husband I’d like to “invest” in a hunk of high quality cheese. I’m not talking about the giant wheels that adorn supermarket displays. I was thinking about a $10 wedge of something pungent and satisfying that would accent a fruit and bread spread. The first time I ever noticed the label “extra-sharp,” I wondered who would bother with “mild,” but I’ve gained a new appreciation for subtlety. Makers of Calabro Cheese say known chefs insist on their award-winning wares because they use the old ways in developing cheeses. It’s what you’ll find at Lombardi’s, New York City’s oldest pizza parlor, where they accept no subsitutes.
“First curds” only go into signature Hand-Dipped Ricotta, that comes in a little metal bucket. I’ve been working in this warm, creamy cheese into sweet egg dishes topped with berries and agave nectar. It’s more subtle than I normally pick, as is Calabro’s Fior Di Latte (Flower of the Milk) mozzarella. Some times this kind of toning down reminds a cook that food combinations can artfully blend, without ingredient competition.
Scamorza is new to me, but the naturally smoked, smooth balls of flavor are my favorite of the three I tried. These cheeses, and even their packaging, class up my refrigerator.

Triple Delight
Kim Son restaurant, just about across from the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, is a family favorite. There, Triple Delight is a dish with Vietnamese Fajitas, Honey-Glazed Shrimp and Chicken. The phrase also represented the three delighted diners – me, my mother and my husband – who left a table with nary a grain of rice left. We shared dishes including Sugar Cane Shrimp, which was a paste molded around a soft “stick” of sugar cane which you could kind of munch and get some sweet juice. A bowl of warm water was placed at my side with no explanation, so we wondered if it was for cleaning up. Alas, we saw diners at the next table using the water to soften rice paper and roll their own spring rolls tableside. I make those at home, in the kitchen, so I didn’t figure that out. Mini faux pas aside, we can’t wait to get back to Kim Son.

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