Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
I’ve sort of been busy with work and hosting my in-laws these last two weeks. I wanted to impress my in-laws with one final new offering before they headed home on a Sat night flight. My in-laws had been impressed by my chilean seabass with pan roasted mushrooms, steamed chiffonade of nappa and Michiba’s kanpon vinaigrette. One of the comments I got was “I would never have thought to cook the nappa using steaming – it’s almost like the Nobu roasted nappa – there’s almost a cooked sweetness to it. So this time, I thought I would cook my mother-in-law’s favorite vegetable: spinach. I immediately thought of the watercress soup and wanted to do an appetizer soup with the spinach.
Chef Keller suggests big pot blanching of green vegetables; so I thought I’d do the same with the spinach. But how much
spinach? As a guide, I chose to use the Sauteed Spinach With Garlic Confit recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon (p. 236) as the base. The online recipe can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/bouchons-saut-ed-spinach-with-garlic-confit-375411
Now, of course I don’t have a diffuser, so I ended up using one of my saucepans with a good layered bottom to it and put in the
ramekin of 8 trimmed garlic cloves and 1/4 c of grapeseed oil (8 – 9 clones is about 1/4 portion of the recipe – it weighed in at about 1 1/8 oz) and cooked it on low heat for about 40 minutes stirring it with a chopstick every 5 or so minutes. Once it was
easily pierced with my vegetable knife, I took it off the heat to cool to room temperature in the oil.
To begin, I made a pot of konbu dashi and while that was being made, I sauteed 1/4 c of finely minced shallots and then set it
aside. Into salted boiling water, I dropped in the baby spinach and then pulled it out after a minute or two and shocked in icy cold water. Since I was using 1 lb of spinach, I would follow the watercress appetizer soup recipe and use about 1 cup of the konbu dashi and 1/2 teaspoon of the 4:1 salt/pepper mix (as it would turn out, I corrected the seasoning to 3/4 t).
I loaded my food processor with the 8 garlic confit cloves the sauteed shallots. On top of that, I added the drained shocked spinach and pulsed the processor a few times and then gave it 1 short burst on high power. I moved the puree mixture to a final
pot and added the hot konbu dashi a bit at time and then corrected the seasoning (which like I said, ended up being 3/4t). I portioned out the soup into 4 small soup bowls to start the evening meal. Needless to say, my mother-in-law was floored on how good it was and startled at its simplicity. Enough said!