I write my recipes very deliberately. That is because I think it’s vital to follow all the steps to achieve a great dish.
The first factor in my cooking is to use the freshest and best ingredients possible, preferably organic. I buy greens and vegetables from local growers, and purchase seafood directly from the fishermen. If there isn’t access to certain products locally or the quality isn’t assured I will source through a carefully selected number of food importers who will source the best products from the most renowned areas. I make my choices about ingredients by sticking to the idea of seasonal freshness and quality, and by buying as directly as possible.
Cooking methods and technique
The second element stresses the importance of proper cooking methods which have specific intended results. Controlling the different heats in cooking is of vital importance. For example, Sealing and coloring meat is best achieved over medium-high heat. To deglaze after sautéing, add wine or stock to the pan, scraping all those luscious caramelized bits from the pan so the flavor will not be lost. Reducing sauces thickens and concentrates the flavor of liquids as moisture evaporates.
Different foods need different cooking methods and produce different results.
An example of this is cooking a good risotto. Firstly only a particular type of rice, first grown in the Po valley of Italy can be used in order to absorb sufficient liquid to achieve the desired texture and result. Then the correct order of ingredients should be cooked, starting with the best olive oil and sautéing the onion to just the right point before adding the short grain rice. Stirring and never letting go. Ladling in the stock one by one until each ladle full is absorbed and finally folding in the butter, cheese and seasoning. Producing what is one of the simplest but at the same time most complicated of dishes.
Technique plays a critical role and good knife skills are the key to precise slicing and dicing. If a recipe calls for a minced ingredient, the pieces should be tiny, not just small. Likewise, the term “julienne” refers to strips that look almost like thick hair, not matchsticks..
We can layer the flavors to fashion a melodious whole. Spices and herbs are added to enhance not over power. A squeeze of lemon or a dash of vinegar and of course the king and queen of spices, salt and pepper are some times all that is needed to bring out the natural and harmonious taste of the freshest ingredients.
Patience is a major ingredient in our cooking. Certain dishes taste richer because of a careful regimen of browning, deglazing, and reducing as it cooks slowly, absorbing all of the natural flavors. Any roast of poultry or meat is succulent and tender by being moistened with mustard, butter and lemon which protects it in the hot oven as it cooks.
Desserts are perfect only when they begin with fresh ingredients— beautiful seasonal fruits complimented by only the best chocolate or cream and finished some times with unconventional, yet harmonizing combinations of balsamic vinegar, sugar, and black pepper. It’s simple but it isn’t always obvious.
Simplicity!!! In my dishes I try to reflect this truth by using only the most prime cuts of beef, simple roasted poultry, the freshest of fish and seafood, organically grown vegetables with real flavor, mixed greens that still have the morning dew on them, potatoes, pulses and roots all cooked to perfection and shun all complex and superfluous seasonings. These are natural, vital foods, served warm and comforting on big white plates un-garnished, leaving the food itself to espouse the basic Zen philosophy of: “It is more important to accentuate that which is not there than that which is”. — Nothing more. Our foods should look and taste like itself.