Shame. Boat-loads of Shame. (a post by Josh)
We talk on this blog a lot about what and how we cook – be that a cake, egg-in-a-basket, or throwing something down on the grill. Usually, we tell you about the good times and about how amazing and mouth watering food can be.
But get this: I mess up. A lot, actually. The best way to learn, they say (that ever present “they”) is to mess up. But the thing is – you have to learn from that mistake. Cliché? Yup. More than anything, it’s a big cliché that has a lot of truth wrapped up in it.
Tonight, actually, I was trying to make an old favorite but with a new twist. I was trying to make my portabella mushrooms with a summer “flare,” if you will. Mushrooms in my book are really heavy and lend themselves to good, hearty winter dishes. Think: risotto with mushrooms, Thai curry, portabella mushrooms marinated in reduced balsamic vinegar.
So, with my being in the South, home of the Georgia Peach, I wanted to make something with that local ambrosia. I remembered a friend’s dish involving peaches, Peach Salsa. I wondered if that would go great, well, or even at all with the hearty, earthy flavor of the portabella mushroom. This is where I really started off wrong. That ever-present “they” says to mix opposites to achieve a delicious middle. Wonder what I mean? I would too after a sentence like that. What I mean is: mix salty and sweet. Spicy and mild. Sweet and sour. Earthy and sweet? Nope. Not a chance. At least not how I did it.
The whole night (from which I’m recovering through this post) was a mess. I first cut up some peaches, onions, tomatoes, garlic, mint, and lemon. I didn’t have a recipe, these were just things I thought might go well together. Sounds decent, right? Well it could have been if I didn’t load them all into a blender and happen to make a smoothie out of the onion invested peach salsa. No salsa, just paste. Sounds somewhat appetizing? Again, not a chance.
With that smoothie sitting to my right, I loaded the mushrooms into a pan filled with olive oil, salt, pepper, onions, and garlic. Now, there is nothing wrong with any of this. Until it starts to burn out of nowhere. Two minutes in the pan, and the whole house was reeking of smoke. Not the type of smoke that Uncle Jack brings in his clothes while he claims to “never smoke a lick.” But the type of smoke that will bring the local small town fire department thirty miles out of their way just to find a small college-aged kid with a pan of charred garlic. Great.
I trudge on though, because I think “maybe this can be fixed.” I would say in most cases, this may be true. Maybe adding a bit of sugar to cut the acidity. Or adding some salt to balance out the overpowering sweet that may cause shock even in a two year-old.
So at this point we have charred mushrooms, peach-tomato-onion smoothie and now for the side dish: broccoli and carrots. Turns out: one of the members of the dinner party doesn’t eat anything but meat, bread and butter. Legit. I wouldn’t joke about something like that. I do have to say though, that that member of the party did eat well, because I steamed those vegetables like a professional – about the only good thing to say about my performance tonight.
I continued on with the mushrooms, topping them with the smoothie and a slice of tomato and threw them right in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes.
As those cooked (and gave off a pretty bad smell too), I made another little dish to satisfy hunger: garlic bread. What I forgot, though, was to bake the bread. You get the picture at this point. I plated all of the meal up in the best way I could and distributed heaping servings of wine to all to make sure they “enjoyed” they meal.
All in all, this is to show you that yes, I make mistakes. Not like you didn’t think that before, but this is confirmation. I made the worst meal of my short-term memory:
Charred, baked portabella mushrooms
Topped with peach-onion-garlic-tomato smoothie and a slice of tomato
Un-toasted Garlic Bread (bread, butter and raw garlic)
Steamed Broccoli and Carrots
And a big heaping serving of red wine to wash away the disappointment.
Hooray for store-bought ice cream for dessert!