I received the following task a few weeks ago:

Cook an original meal under the following parameters and document it:
1. Must be at least 2 courses
2. 1 element on the plate must be sculptural
3. Must incorporate alcohol as an ingredient
4. Must have a sauce
5. Must include a yellow vegetable
Points for creativity and presentation.

Since I recently moved to Stockholm and am still trying to figure out my life budget due to the high cost of living here, I have been trying to only shop once a week.  Thus in order to stick to this “budget” I decided to take everything out of my cupboards and fridge to see if this task could be completed with existing resources.

The image above shows what I found: broccoli, avocado, rocket, spinach, cream cheese, Gouda cheese, old (very old with shoots growing) carrots, tomatoes, grapes, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, crushed tomato, corn, quinoa, black rice, sweat chilli sauce, sugar peas, whiskey, gin and blossa (a Swedish drink).

I was going to need help. So I put the gin and the blossa away and poured myself a whiskey, one rock.

I have been reading http://www.fourhourworkweek.com, which commanded that I stop looking at the task as a whole, and deconstruct it. This was easy since the task already had sub tasks, so lets see how this went.

  1. Cook a meal.
    Fortunately I can cook, some might say I am a half decent cook, so we had this one covered.
  2. Must be at least 2 courses.
    While I say I can cook, I very rarely cook multi course meals.  This is mostly because I can never seem to get the timing right; which is why I cook stir-fries and risottos. This got me thinking, what exactly is a course? http://www.thefreedictionary.com/courses lists the following definitions for the word course:
    1.
       a. Onward movement in a particular direction; progress: the course of events.
       b. Movement in time; duration: in the course of a year.
    2. The direction of continuing movement: took a northern course.
    3. The route or path taken by something, such as a stream, that moves. See Synonyms at way.
    4. Sports
       a. A designated area of land or water on which a race is held: the course of a marathon.
       b. A golf course.
    5. A mode of action or behaviour: followed the best course and invested her money.
    6. A typical or natural manner of proceeding or developing; customary passage: a fad that ran its course.
    7. A systematic or orderly succession; a sequence: a course of medical treatments.
    8. A continuous layer of building material, such as brick or tile, on a wall or roof of a building.
    9.
       a. A complete body of prescribed studies constituting a curriculum: a four-year course in engineering.
       b. A unit of such a curriculum: took an introductory course in chemistry; passed her calculus course.
    10. A part of a meal served as a unit at one time: The first course was a delicious soup.
    11. Nautical The lowest sail on a mast of a square-rigged ship.
    12. A point on the compass, especially the one toward which a vehicle, such as a ship, is moving.
  3. 1 element on the plate must be sculptural.
    Lets get this straight I have never concerned myself with the presentation of food. In addition I don’t view myself as much of a creative, my sculpturing experience goes about as far as filling in the gaps in my dovetail joints during woodwork class with polyfiller.
    Then the light bulb moment came which set the course for the rest of the task. Reviewing the list in 2 I saw:
       4. Sports
           a. A designated area of land or water on which a race is held: the course of a marathon.
           b. A golf course.
    That was it; I would make my meal in the form of a golf course, which meant that it would cover points 2 and 3. It would be a one-course meal, sculptured as a golf course.
  4. Must incorporate alcohol as an ingredient.
    Well I was already drinking whiskey
  5. Must have a sauce.
    I figured I would just put a bunch of things together and pour enough whiskey in it to make it a sauce.  So the ingredients I chose for this I put aside: cream cheese, spinach.
  6. Must include a yellow vegetable.
    Corn is yellow and is a vegetable so I just needed to incorporate in the meal somehow.  With the golf course idea in mind, I concluded that they would make good sand traps.
All that thinking took it out of me so I poured another whiskey and put the quinoa and rice on boil while I took a moment to figure out how the hell I was going to turn a meal into a golf course with what I had at hand. 
While going through the cupboard I had uncovered a casserole dish.  I decided that I could use this to bake a “meat” loaf, which would be easy to sculpt something out of. The quinoa, black beans, kidney beans and chickpeas could be used as a base.  I was concerned this wasn’t going to work as it really needed something to hold it together, like egg, but I what do vegans do?  Here is the process:
  1. Mash the beans and the chickpeas together
  2. Add salt, pepper, some fresh lime juice and oregano
  3. Add Gouda cheese.  Turns out this made a fantastic alternative to the egg for holding everything together. 
  4. Add the quinoa, which was now cooked.
  5.  Add some red curry paste for flavour. I had considered peanut butter though decided against it since everything was already sticking so well. 
  6. Mix all ingredients together and place in casserole dish.  Place casserole dish in oven. I hadn’t the foggiest what temperature one should cook such a loaf on, but 180 seemed to be what everything is cooked on so I went for the standard. 

Pour another whiskey. 
The corn needed to be creamed to turn it into sand traps.  For this I really needed a food processor. I didn’t have one.  So my fist had to make do again just like it had done for mashing the beans and chickpeas. Only this time there was a satisfying pop as the corn screamed out in pain at my antics.  Once mashed to an adequate standard I cooked the corn with some pepper, margarine and milk to make it creamy. 
Moving on to the sauce. I chopped the spinach and some garlic, frying them together. To this I added some pepper and the cream cheese; plus a good sharing of whiskey and set it to simmer.   I might add that it smelt amazing. The whiskey used was a Bowmore, which is quite peaty and gave the sauce a sweet smoky aroma. 
It was time to put the whole thing together, so I poured another whiskey and started sculpting…
The “meat” loaf made for the T which grapes were used as the T-markers.  Rice made for the main composite of the course with the sauce forming a stream and the corn sand traps. Considering that a river runs a course, I think I should get bonus points for having 3 courses. For the green I used a slice of avocado and the pin was a grape stork with rocket flag. 
Once I finished taking the pictures I put the whole thing in the micro to warm up before eating, utterly defeating the point of not making a two course meal. 

Comments

  1. Ola says:

    Inspiring! I may try that myself =)