Monday, November 22, 2010

Cooking with Chef Emily

I recently had the pleasure of cooking a mighty feast with my good friend Emily. She and I became close while weathering the 18 months of culinary school at the CIA up in St. Helena. In between foraging random produce around the neighborhoods and dancing at Ana's Cantina we made loads of hollandaise sauce and volunteered at countless school functions. We were partners in crime.

Emily is incredibly talented. She has a unique way of looking at food and is full of inspiration. Despite my strange label as being a "super taster," Emily holds something I strive for- a palate that can please a crowd. She knows exactly what to do to make something taste perfect...and she does it over and over again.

We began our night at the Berkeley Bowl and Trader Joe's...

Plantains are best when they're skin is almost entirely black

Her favorite apple, the Arkansas Black. "The blacker the better..they have a great crunch!"

This Italian sheep's milk cheese is incredible. I highly recommend it... if nothing else to simply snack on

We decided to build our meal around plantains since it's what we were craving. Actually, it's what Emily was craving but I love plantains so it worked out perfect. Our meal looked like this:

Roasted and Blackened Plantains
sour cream, pickled red onions, cilantro

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Cuban Spices
orange cumin reduction sauce

Sauteed Black Lentils
carrots, green onions

Arkansas Black Apple, Jicama and Arugula Salad
Toscano sheep's milk cheese, citrus vinaigrette

Mulled Wine
red wine, apple cider, mulling spices

This sauce blew my mind... and yes, that's a hair tie holding the cilantro stems together. Resourceful, right? (no, it hadn't been used)

First pan fried....

Then roasted until black and delicious

Next time you eat plantains you must try this combination

Em in a nutshell


Breanne said...

I didn't even know plantains, Arkansas black apples or the majority of other stuff you listed existed on the planet, let alone for human consumption. Clearly I need to be more cultured :) Looks tasty!

Anonymous said...

Vanessa: I love this commentary on Emily!!! what a nice bday present on my bday. will you please send me the photo of Em w/ Fanny at Chez Panisse. your blog is awesome. I love your writing and photos thanks for sharing oxoxo katherine

Anonymous said...

The sauce looks amazing and I, too, am a big fan of Emily's astounding cooking skills. mm