You know how sometimes you have an idea for a dish and it just doesn't work? I chalk those episodes up to educational moments. I learn something each time I fail. Equally, I learn when I succeed. And I get to do happy dances.
I recently had an idea for a seafood dish reminiscent of cioppino, but as usual I wasn't planning on following any real recipe. It worked beautifully and I'm still feeling smug, especially as this was a birthday dinner for a friend. Perhaps that means I really should have followed a recipe and I was just lucky.
- peeled and deveined shrimp
- cherrystone clams
- chopped pepper, onion and garlic
- chopped chorizo
- chopped palm hearts
- chopped tomatoes
- a can of stewed tomatoes
- a can of chopped clams
- a can of seafood broth
I sauteed the peppers, onions and garlic, then added in sequence, letting it cook for a bit each time:
- the sausage
- the palm hearts
- the tomatoes along with some basil and pepper
- the broth and canned tomato
- the shrimp and clams
I let the whole mess cook until the clams were open and ta-da! it was done and delicious. I served it on rice and felt unutterably pleased with myself. Frankly, I still do.
My friend enjoyed his birthday dinner and I was reminded that taking a risk and trusting my palate is sometimes exactly the right thing to do.
I'd love to know about some of your unexpected successes. It's sometimes easier to tell the disaster stories; when has a dish worked beyond your wildest expectations?
(c) 2010 Laura S. Packer