Mack's Corner

This Week

This week 07-07-15

Can you taste it?

One of the great chefs of the world is Grant Achatz (Aak - Its). He's the chef and owner of "Alinea" and "Next", in Chicago ( ). Alina is one of the best restaurants in the country, and the 26st best restaurant in the world ( ) ..  In 2003 Grant had a spot on his tongue that started hurting. The dentist said it was no big deal but it kept hurting. In 2007 they did a biopsy and he had stage 4-B tongue cancer. They started chemo and radiation. In the process he lost all of his taste buds, or at least they quit working. So a spoon full of salt tasted just like a spoon full of sugar or a spoon full of sand... no taste at all .. Of course a chef with no taste buds is like a deaf musician or a blind painter, you can't realize your own art. Then one day after the cancer had gone he started to get his taste back. First it was only Sweet. That's all he could taste, just sweet. So sugar tasted sweet but salt didn't taste like anything. He saw this as a great opportunity, if he could only taste Sweet, then he would find out which things were really sweet. Were sweet peppers really sweet? Was chocolate sweet? Were scallops really sweet? ... He tasted everything. Then he found he could taste Bitter. Burned toast was bitter, coffee was bitter, chocolate was bitter. Now all of a sudden he could not only taste things to see what was bitter and what was sweet, but he could taste bitter and sweet together and see the balance with nothing else in the way... only bitter, only sweet. So, burned toast alone was one thing and burned toast with honey was something else. Did they cancel each other out? No. But they did change the flavor of the other. Then he started tasting salt. Salt changes everything. Salt makes sweet things taste different, it makes bitter things taste different. Salt makes everything different, even just a little. Big time chefs will even put a little salt in Ice Cream or Chocolate candy.  Now he could see how salt worked with sweetness without any other distraction ... burned toast with honey and a touch of salt?... melted chocolate with sugar and pinch of salt or maybe a tablespoon of salt... It changed his whole way of thinking. He couldn't just throw things in the pot till it tasted right, he had to taste each thing before it went in and think about how it was going to affect everything that was already there. Everything had a taste all by itself ... Everything had to balance...

Gods like that: We almost never get to see God all by himself. We're always looking through 15 different problems or through someone else's view. And even if we do see him, it's hard to focus and keep him in site. There's just too much stuff going on. But God is like salt, he changes everything and just because you don't know he's there, doesn't mean he's not. It may not taste salty but it's there all the same, otherwise there would be no flavor ....

Everytime you see some salt taste a few grains and think about God. Then mix it in with everything else and see if you can still find it...


Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes - Living Well - Mediterranean Diet:

This is one of those superfood things. You could eat it everyday for every meal and it would be great everytime. It fits in to the Mediterranean diet perfectly.  There are lots of different things you can do with this. Add a small handful of pickled jalapeños, tabasco, pickled onions, cooked onions, cilantro, leave out the the coriander/cumin, add cajun spices, rasins, nuts, mango, apples, sugar, pickle juice..etc You're making a big bowl of stuffing for tortollas.. TASTE!, TASTE!, TASTE!  Enough salt? Hot? Sweet?  ... Remember that you always want to balance Hot/Sour/Salty/Sweet ... so lime=sour, salt=salty, sweet potato=some sweet, pepper=hot .. you may need some more sweet, and more hot.

My rule is: If I can't stop tasting it, then it's good.. quit!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burritos
1 small sweet potato, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
¼ avocado (I would use the whole thing!!!)
¼ cup full-fat Greek yogurt (if you have too much  lime juice from 1 lime add some more yogurt)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (I would use 1 whole lime.. close to 2 tbsp)
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed, drained
½ cup grated white cheddar cheese
2 10" whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss sweet potato, oil, coriander, and cumin on a rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast potatoes, tossing halfway through, until golden brown and tender, 20–25 minutes.
Meanwhile, scoop flesh from avocado into a small bowl and mash with a fork until mostly smooth. Stir in yogurt and lime juice until well combined; season with salt.

Spread ½ cup sweet potato, ¼ cup beans, and ¼ cup cheese down center of each tortilla. Top with avocado mixture. Fold sides of tortilla over filling, then roll up to enclose.

Do Ahead: Sweet potato can be roasted 2 days ahead. Let cool, cover, and chill.


Posted by Mack Oates at 9:24 AM