So I’m looking through my new issue of Austin Monthly, a must-have local publication (because it was offered on a Groupon), when I ran across a recipe by local celebrity chef Paul Qui. Quickly realizing the opportunity to make a truly horrible headline pun, I decide to give it a whirl. Like many professional musicians, I am also an accomplished chef. <Translation: you cannot afford to eat out>
Sunchoke Dashi Soup, with Uni, Bottarga, Baby Carrots, and Zucchini Blossoms. This should be a piece of cake! <because then you might actually enjoy eating it>
Hush, Doubter! The first order of business is to line up guests. A meal this classy should not go unshared. Quickly, I ring up Calvin Trillin, Lady Gaga, Rick Santorum, and Pope Benedict XVI.
Lucky break! They’re all available and will be here at 8:00. Now, to work.
Mix heavy cream and lemon juice in a stainless steel container, preferably a bain marie of deep one-sixth size pan. Hmmm….OK, I’m in trouble already. One-sixth of what? And is there even such a thing as a bain marie? Off to Wikipedia we go…
“A bain-marie (pronounced: [bɛ̃ maʁi]; also known as a water bath in English, Italian: bagno maria, [ˈbaɲːo maˈɾia], or Spanish: baño maría) is a French term for a piece of equipment used in science, industry, and cooking to heat materials gently and gradually to fixed temperatures, or to keep materials warm over a period of time.”
Gee, thanks for all that. But from the picture, looks pretty much like your standard double-boiler. Would that have been so hard to say?
Alright, onward. Cover the top with cheese cloth and keep in a warm place, not to exceed 80 degrees F. Let stand for up to 48 hours.
OK, Buttercup, I’m not sure where you’re writing this from, because “a warm place” and “not to exceed 80 degrees” does not match any location in Austin, TX. Sounds like I’m going to have to babysit this thing for two days in the walk-in cooler.
Two days?! I have to call everybody back and see if they can make it Saturday. Dialing…
No problem, they’re all in. And I can tell they’re getting as excited about this as I am.
OK, now the uni powder. Put uni in a dehydrator or oven with only the pilot on, until completely dry. This may take up to 48 hours.
First off. What the hell is uni? Wiki, you still there?
Hmmm…Wiki is stumped on this one, but thinks it might be a Japanese name for salt-pickled sea urchin roe. Don’t think I have any of that in the house. I’ll substitute cinnamon. It’s already dry, and I think the Pope will get peeved if I have to delay this shindig any further.
Sunchoke puree: Sweat garlic and green onion bulbs in butter. I’m sweating, I’m sweating. Add sunchokes and sweat. Now I’m really sweating, because I don’t know what sunchokes are. Oh WIKIIIII……
“The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), also called the sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple or topinambour, is a species of sunflower native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.”
Well, that’s just dandy. Isn’t anything called by its proper name anymore? OK, out to the garden to pull up the ‘sunchokes’. There goes the cat’s dinner.
Oh, now things are really getting busy. Blanch…shock…pat dry..shock…mix…puree in a blender…
Wait a minute. Did I just hear you say…puree in a blender?
You’re joking, right? I just slogged through Seven Rings of Hell, inconvenienced four dear friends, babysat a meringue for two days, ruined the cat’s dinner, and now you want me just to throw the whole mess in a blender and hit Liquefy? You were just waiting to see if I would do all this, right?
Oh well. In for a penny, in for a pound. BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR
For the lemon salt…
Salty enough already. Next!
For the vegetables: With a peeler, peel the length of the carrots and zucchini. It should look like a paper-thin cross-section of the vegetable. And I should look like George Clooney for serving this mess, but let’s not kid ourselves. Roll them around a wooden chopstick and shock in ice water. I’ll make you a deal. I’m throwing them in vodka to soak. Nobody will care if they’re not curling.
Slice the radish paper thin with a mandolin and cut into strips…
OK, now you’ve gone too far. I draw the line at dubious string instruments. Where am I going to find a mandolin, this side of a dulcimer festival? And even I find one, I have my doubts as to what it’s likely to do to a radish. Bad enough what it does to human hearing.
Is it supposed to look like this, or like the picture? ‘Cause it doesn’t look like either one.
Maybe I should puree the mandolin, as long as the blender is out…
Hmm…maybe salvage it with some sour cream?…
“Rick, listen. We decided to meet for wings downtown. Yeah, Oil Can Harry’s. Can’t miss it.”