TWO DELICIOUS DINNERS UNDER 20 MINUTES
Delicious food doesn’t have to take hours to prepare, nor do you have to have a culinary degree to pull it off. I have always said that if you start with fresh ingredients, use simple effective cooking techniques and layer your flavors, anyone can cook delicious dishes. Layering flavor means cooking with more than just salt and pepper. It means creating a flavor profile that includes a combination of things that satisfy your palate. Many examples can be found in your favorite drinks and cocktails. Lime with beer, rum and Coke, etc. Contrasting flavors in combination, work together to form a flavor profile which appeals to many people. A classic example that I love to use to illustrate unique “flavor profiles” is McDonald’s Big Mac sandwich. Does this sound like fast food or a gourmet dish? Soft buttery bread with toasted sesame seeds, juicy savory meat, strong bite of onion, cool crisp lettuce and soft sweet tomato, mayo-based creamy sauce with a tang that brings out the vinegar in the pickles, all in one gigantic 3- dimensional bite.
When you can identify what flavors you love, you can learn to combine them in a way that enhances the main ingredient. I like to create my own spice blends and use them in my cooking. Below is my “Love Rub” spice blend with a Spanish kick. This is a great way to create a base flavor profile. The following dish (which will be featured on my new food blog www.lovecancook.com) will tantalize your palate and take no more than 20 minutes from start to finish. Feel free to substitute ingredients if one or more of them is not to your liking.
STEAMED LITTLENECK CLAMS IN A CHORIZO GINGER BROTH (SERVES 2)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili flake
1/2 cup chorizo, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 small onion, diced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 inch ginger root, sliced
1 tablespoon Spanish Spice Blend
(plus one teaspoon for finishing the dish)
1 cup white wine
1 dozen Littleneck clams
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
6 leaves of bok choy, white and green
parts, rough chopped
In a saucepan, heat olive oil over a medium heat. Add chili flake and chorizo and cook for 2 minutes as the fat begins to render from the chorizo. Add garlic, onions, celery, ginger and 2 teaspoons of spice blend. Cook for another 3 minutes to soften the vegetables.
Add white wine, clams, scallops and white wine. Sprinkle with another teaspoon of spice blend, give the pan a gentle shake, cover and simmer until clams open. Add bok choy, and sprinkle with another teaspoon of spice blend. Cover and take off heat for 5 minutes to steam the bok choy.
Discard any unopened clams and using a slotted spoon, scoop out the opened clams, scallops, bok choy and chorizo and arrange in serving bowls. Carefully pour broth over the seafood, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and one final dusting of spice blend.
SPANISH SPICE BLEND
This spice blend is my signature blend and is affectionately called “Love Rub.” It’s the base flavor for my Steamed Clams dish. Use it on eggs, salads, roasted vegetables, fish, chicken, pasta, rice, and even popcorn. Makes just over half a cup of spice blend.2 Tbsp Powdered garlic
2 Tbsp Powdered garlic
1 Tbsp Powdered onion
1 Tbsp Ground cumin
1 Tbsp Sweet paprika
2 Tbsp Smoked paprika
1 Tbsp Dried thyme
1 Tbsp Dried oregano
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp Fresh ground black pepper
1 Tsp Cayenne pepper
Michael Love is the Specialty Chef at Epicure Gourmet Market and Café and the creator of “Epicure with Love,” an all-natural gourmet line of food including soups, prepared entrées, Giant cookies, and Xtreme brownies. Michael is also available for private and group cooking instruction and can be hired for dinner parties and events. Contact: Michael@epicuremarket.com.