Salsify and Phyllo

After sitting through a 7+ hour deposition today that largely consisted of a woman describing photographs she’d taken, I stopped off at Whole Foods on the way home. For some reason I decided that I would try and pull something special off this evening, and the entree that I constructed went something like this:
Lamb tenderloin and goat cheese in phyllo, over salsify puree with harissa.
Sounds good doesn’t it? I think it probably would be, if I were capable of actually cooking salsify. I had salsify at Alinea and in my memory it was a puree, but as it turns out, the goddamn root doesn’t actually cook to tenderness in simmering water. At least, it doesn’t cook to tenderness in an hour. And given the size of the root (around the diameter of a young carrot) it should.
So that was the first disaster. The second involved the phyllo. I’ve done some pretty nifty stuff with puff pastry over the last year, so I figured that phyllo wouldn’t be much different. And maybe it’s not; I don’t know. All I know is that apparently I used too few sheets of the stuff for the lamb tenderloin I cooked this evening.
I started off with a bit of a handicap. I didn’t remove the silverskin from the tenderloins before browning them. These things are around the size of fat cuban cigars, and around that length. I figured on browning them, letting them cool, then wrapping them with goat cheese in phyllo dough and baking them. Which is exactly what I did. The problem was that at around 20 minutes, the phyllo broke, and some of the goat cheese erupted onto my newly purchased silpat. The resulting mess was actually still pretty damn tasty, but not pretty.
All of which leads me to believe that I am not ready for prime time where these kind of recipes are concerned. I’ll say this for myself: I know my limits. Actually, I will say a whole lot of ridiculous shit about myself if I’m given the chance, but this doesn’t seem the right time.
At least the harissa came out okay, even if it was a bastardized version. Whole foods had a bunch of different grilled peppers for sale in their prepared foods section. I bought a dozen or so red jalapenos, and pureed them with a half dozen big cloves of roasted garlic, a smallish roasted red pepper, a few pieces of pineapple, some apple cider vinegar, some honey, salt and a little water. I put the resulting puree through a very fine-mesh strainer, and goddamn is it good. Hot as all hell, but it’s also got a good balance of acidity and just a hint of sweetness. I ended up putting it into a small squeeze bottle, and I imagine I’ll use it as a garnish over the next month or so.
Oh hey, incidentally, did anyone else notice that the Times-Pic ran a photo of the notes posted at the Camelia Grill around a week after I posted my story? I’m a trendsetter baby.

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08 2006

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  1. 1

    Sounds very good. For harissa try:
    1/4 cup ground cumin
    2 tbs cayenne
    mix together
    Whisk in 1/4 cup lemon juice
    Whisk 1/2 cup olive oil
    Season with salt & pepper

  2. 2

    “After sitting through a 7+ hour deposition today that largely consisted of a woman describing photographs she’d taken”
    I think I saw that film. It’s French, right?

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