Some of you might remember my post about food phobias. Prominently featured in it were artichokes, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms — vegetables that my friend, Pee Pee, loves! So, given how wonderful she is, she decided to cook dinner for me and help me get over (at least some of) my food issues! Apparently, it’s now a joint project…next on her list are tofu and salmon!
Since you don’t know her, let me tell you that Pee Pee is always a person with a plan. Her strategy was to make me handle the vegetables to get us acquainted. “Hello, artichokes! I am Anu!” I have never bought or cooked artichokes and mushrooms and there was only one instance of eating Brussels sprouts, that didn’t go too well! So, I cleaned and trimmed and we roasted and steamed.
We also took time out for photos, giggles and coronas, of course!
We steamed the artichokes whole and ate them as a starter with a mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar dip. And I loved them! The nutty flesh of the green leaves and the hearts goes so well with a tangy dip! Verdict: I am definitely over my artichoke phobia!
Next on our menu were roasted vegetables: we first marinated the Brussels sprouts and other root vegetables like parsnips, small potatoes, carrots and shallots in olive oil, salt and pepper and then, roasted them in the oven with some thyme sprigs.
My main issue with Brussels sprouts has been their sharp flavor. But then again, it’s a very lame excuse since I enjoy eating so many other weird-tasting vegetables. Brussels sprouts come from the cabbage family and look like miniature cabbages. Did you know that they most likely originated in Brussels, Belgium and hence the name? They are a very good source of anti-cancer compounds, and therefore, it’s best not to boil them to prevent losing all that goodness (which is how I had eaten them the first time).
I am happy to report that I also really liked roasted Brussels sprouts! They still don’t come close to the awesomeness that roasted potatoes are, but maybe nothing can.
The main course was skirt steak with a mushroom gravy. Mushrooms have a meaty texture, but since I am no longer a vegetarian, I am okay with that. I do not, however, like their smell. I cleaned and thinly sliced the button mushrooms while Pee Pee minced some shallots. We cooked them in lots of butter and even more cream, crème fraîche and blue cheese and garnished with some chopped parsley towards the end. Oh, we also added soy sauce (yes!) and a little Swedish veal stock.
The gravy tasted and looked delicious and my only qualm was that I could still not get over the smell of mushrooms. So, I definitely need to do more work on the mushroom front!
I have always been a big fan of cooking with friends, especially in their kitchens. You learn so much about new ingredients and techniques. But the best part is the stories they tell while washing, chopping, frying and eating. A simple artichoke can transport you to your childhood kitchen and bring back fond memories of eating with parents and family. And while sharing those memories, you create new ones that will be recalled in another kitchen, at another time.
Thank you, Pee Pee jaan! I look forward to more such dinners with you!