Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Failed Foodie

I want to know what yuzu tastes like.  Actually, I'd be happy to know what yuzu looks like.  Is it a fruit, found in the produce section?  Can it be a powder, like wasabi or mustard?  Does it come in a jar -- like some sort of exotic jelly?

I honestly don't know, but after taking in countless cooking shows, including this season's Top Chef, I'm beginning to feel like that one girl in 6th grade who didn't get an invitation to the slumber party.  Has yuzu become some sort of double top-secret ingredient for chefs?

Since I don't know what yuzu is, I'm not sure where to find it.  Can I even get it on the shelves (racks, bins, freezer) of my friendly neighborhood Harris Teeter?

Is it near the truffle oil?  That was last year's foodie favorite and it also blew right past me.  But at least I can imagine what it looks like.  (Oil, right?)  I also understand how to cook with it.  (Sparingly, duh.)

One food trend I wish I had missed is cilantro.  It rolled into Charlotte about 15 years ago and just won't go away.  The first time I cooked with cilantro, I dumped the entire dish in the trash.  I figured it was the recipe, but nope, it was the cilantro.  Everyone else seems to love cilantro (a.k.a. fresh coriander).  I even hear folks order, for crying out loud, extra cilantro on their burritos and tacos.  To me, it tastes like parsley-shaped pieces of Dial soap.  But not as tasty.

I'm very comfortable cooking with balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, frozen puff pastry and proscuitto, which is a clear indication of how far off the food trend cliff these ingredients have fallen.  They had their day in the sun and now they're having their day in my fridge.  I regularly use a couple of these foodie fashion outcasts in one of my favorite go-to hors d'oeuvres -- Proscuitto Palmiers.

These savory bites are scarfed up every time I make them.  Flaky puff pastry may be passé, but this is a case where, I don't care who you are -- good is just good.  And I know exactly where to find the ingredients in my grocery store.

Proscuitto Palmiers
1 pkg. frozen puff pastry (two 18 x 11 sheets), thawed
dijon mustard
fresh thyme, finely minced
2 cups freshly grated parmesan or gruyere cheese
8 oz. thinly sliced proscuitto
2 egg whites
2 tablespoons water
sea salt

Roll out one sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured board.  Brush scantily with mustard and sprinkle with thyme and half of the cheese.  Arrange half of proscuitto evenly over the cheese.  Starting at one long edge, roll up the puff pastry (snugly) like a jelly roll just up to the middle of the dough.  Then, roll up the other side in the same fashion, making the two rolls meet in the center.  Repeat with second puff pastry sheet and remaining ingredients.  Chill rolls for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Using a serrated knife, slice the rolls crosswise into 1/2" slices.  (At this point, slices can be frozen, well-packaged -- for baking later.)  Place slice on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and press lightly with your hands to flatten.

Beat the egg whites and water together and brush tops of palmiers.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.  Bake until puffed and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.  Remove to rack to cool.  Can be prepared a day in advance.
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