Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Radicchio à la mozzarella... & the open mind

"Don't wait for it to happen. Don't even want it to happen. Just watch what does happen."
Who knew Sean Connery could give such sound parenting and life advice? This is actually a David Mamet line from the movie The Untouchables. And it struck me as being so immensely wise.

The epitome of open-mindedness really. Insightful for life. For parenting. For cooking.

For a long time, I thought there was no other alternative than either having high expectations (and often setting oneself up for disappointment), or low expectations (which seems so negative and cynical, and perhaps self-fulfilling). But I see now that both are very inorganic, constructs of the mind, defense mechanisms designed to protect ourselves. So what I've been working on is to exude trust and be completely open to what unfolds.

Take the steps that make sense, following what feels true and right to me, and just focus on the process, forgetting any results I may want, watching and taking in "what does happen". Because things will happen in time. Good things too. Or helpful things. Or useful things. Growth will happen. And that's what life is all about.

I think this might also be the secret to keeping a sense of awe and wonder. There's something so special about people who have kept that intact.

As always, the kitchen is a wonderful place to practice this. Open a recipe book you like (or pick a photo on Pinterest, or follow an idea you have, or revisit a family recipe). Pick a recipe that inspires you, that makes you salivate. Listen to what your palate is craving, and just follow through step by step, giving little thought to the result. And watch it evolve, a loaf swelling, a quiche setting, a soup becoming fragrant. And savor every bite with that open mind. It might need to be tweaked next time, it might not be perfect, but you made it, it is yours. Nothing can take that away. That experience, you can take it with you.

I know time is a-lacking, tiredness weighs in, and chaos can surround us. Let us go back to cooking, even if it's not always quick and easy. Not just for convenience, but to ground ourselves, nourish mind and body, to truly live. Every day.

Another parcel recipe we really enjoyed, hope you will too. Pablo has been getting a bit more involved in the kitchen recently. And parcel making is particularly engaging to him. He says we're making dinner cadeaux (gifts), he gets his own little surprise package to unwrap on his plate. It's such a joy to watch his wonder as he opens it up. 

Radicchio à la mozzarella

Serves 4 parcels (this is a somewhat small portion for an entree, but with a good size vegetable first course, like a soup or salad, it leaves you room for a piece of cheese - or two - after :-))

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time : 10 minutes

Age for babies: 10-12 months, cut up.

12 leaves of radicchio (from 2 heads)
5 oz fresh mozzarella
2 tbsp grated Manchego (Parmesan, Pecorino would do nicely too)
1/2 slices of smoked salmon or lox (optional)
1 sprig of dill (Alt: fresh oregano)
8 leaves of basil 
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt & fresh ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Preheat the oven at 400°F.

Cut the head of radicchio at its foot and peel off the larger leaves whole, being careful not to tear them. (To get bigger leaves, I peeled the outer leaves from 2 heads and kept the rest for a salad).

Rinse the leaves, and plunge them in the boiling water for 30 seconds (better to go 3-4 at a time so as not to overcook some). Then place them over a kitchen towel to drain and let cool a bit.

Slice the mozzarella, wash the herbs, cut the salmon in small pieces if using.

Cut four pieces of parchment paper. For each parcel, brush the center with a bit of olive oil. On top, place three leaves of radicchio on top of each other. Then add a couple of slices of mozzarella, a couple of slices of basil, and a couple of pieces of salmon (if using). Put a bit of dill on top (I just use kitchen scissors to cut the dill), add some freshly ground pepper, and a bit of grated Manchego.

Close up the parcels (not too tight). Place in a baking dish, and in the oven for 8 minutes. (Don't overcook it as the mozzarella is best just melted.)

Serve the parcels directly on each plate.

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