Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The sound of music.....

   I know, I know, every other note seems to have a musical reference to it. It's hard not to. I am a rock and roll sort of chef. Music has alot of import for me. Sometimes I feel as thought it flows in my blood and creates beautiful pictures and  conjures smells and tastes. It's my "go to" muse when there is nothing else. Like most artists, artisans, craft persons, anyone who needs to have a source of creativity to draw from, I too need an infusion every now and then, of mind blowing proportions. Before it went " missing", a kind euphemism for stolen, I had an iPod with over a 1100 songs on it that was practically glued to my ears or plugged into a receiver to spill it into the kitchen. We also kept a library of 100 CD's.
   It didn't matter whether it was dawn, midday or breakdown /cleanup.....music made the day better and kept the pace flowing. A hard Saturday night would metamorphisize into a bleary eyed Sunday morning brunch with alarming intensity. My way of conquering the beast was a double hammerhead, VERY strong coffee with a double shot of espresso, walk over to the music and turn on Techno music, provided by one of my cooks cum d.j.. By the time my team would roll in, an hour to two later, Mozart could be on. Or The Allman Brothers, or cool Jazz. See it never really mattered what was playing, if it got my head to a happy place and the the food cooking, it was all good. Nor were we adverse to Gospel or Zen New Age.....it was where we were going, how long it would take to get there and could we sustain the momentum until it was time to leave.
  I don't know of anyone whose world or work day isn't made better by music. Doesn't matter the genre, as long as it floats your boat. It also as previously noted, can kick your creativity in the ass. I am very jealous of my musician friends who seem to have an unlimited flow of ideas and are prodigious song writers, lyricists and players. They probably have their demons and blockages, and where they go for inspiration dumbfounds me.
  I am also very conscious of what is playing in the dining room as well. The wrong kind of sound can trigger a bad dining experience, or good ones can transport it to a state of ecstasy. Too loud and it will cause the diners to elevate their voices over it and it becomes cacophonous. Too low and, well, no one hears it or is constantly questioning if there is anything to listen to. Too "modern" or radical and they're turned off. Too gloomy and they feels like they're at a funeral.
  But for cooking, we go all out. Nothing is out of bounds. Well, I did know one cook who hated The Eagles, but would almost silently suffer through one or two cuts before begging for a change. And, on Facebook people are constantly sharing tunes they've found or rediscovered, with friends just to say "Hey dig it!"  Even my students feel different if there is something in the background. If nothing else, it dims the sound of the overhead fans and constant din of the convection oven fans. So, yes, I love music, unashamedly so. And happy cooks make happy food. 
 Now, I am a Northerner by birth and frankly never ate grits till I moved South, and I have no idea where this came from, but once started it ran out constantly. Like a good song it's got layers and notes and and can get really creative when it's doing a freestyle jam.
Rock and Roll 5 Cheese Grits Chowder......ZZ Top or Allman Bros., makes this rock

2 c.......yellow grits...if unavailable use regular, there's a trick for getting it goldeny
2 c.......chicken stock.....water for vegetarians
2 c.......milk......wanna go lush?....cream.........
2-4 c...extra liquid, this will thicken as it develops,water will do, the others are better
1.........yellow onion, small dice
1.........red bell pepper, small dice
1 c......yellow corn kernels...canned or frozen is fine
S & P..to taste
2 tsp....dried pepper flakes
1 tsp....coriander
1 tsp... cumin
Turmeric.....as needed
1/4 c ..each...your favorite 5 cheeses.........Cheddar, Bleu, Parmesan, Jack, Goat, American, Swiss,
                                                                 leftover party tray bits.....it's YOURS, make it so.....the more 
                                                                 flavorful the better. I will go for the Bleu and goat,for sure ...                 .                                                                then you're on your own..........

Saute corn, onion and pepper, in butter, in soup pot
Add and bring 4 c. of stock and milk to a rolling boil
Reduce heat slightly and add a steady stream of grits, stirring constantly to prevent lumping
Reduce heat to moderate, stirring and watch out for bursting bubbles...it's molten
Add in cheeses, one at a time, incorporating thoroughly
Blend in remaining spices and correct with S&P.........if you want you can add more of each for a spicier kick
Thin chowder as necessary, but not too thin..it is a chowder and should have some "body" to it.

Remember, as always, this is your soup and however the music sends you, make the flavors yours.
And enjoy it!

As Always


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