By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
Who doesn’t love a good snooze alarm? I mean, it’s only nine minutes, but what a glorious stretch of dreaming can be gleaned in such a short time. In fact, I am pretty sure that I have conquered Rome in some nine-minute segments of siesta.
No, I do not believe for a second that we only dream in real-time. I have heard that argument for years, and yet I have had many dreams covering the span of years, if not eons. I’m pretty sure that I once won the America’s Cup in nine minutes.
My other favorite theory about dreams is this: If you see yourself die in a dream and believe it, you yourself will die. I have heard this a number of times over the years, and I pose the same question every single time: Who did they ask?
I will wait to let that one sink in.
Back to business.
It is now December, and this is how my brain functions as it hunkers down for the cold months. I start thinking about obscure dream theories, scouting out sales on cheap box wines that I can take to parties as an impetus to start dubious conversations about religion and politics and, of course, scooching through the remaining holiday parties that I need to cater. Or, as I prefer to call it, simply surviving December.
Amidst the foray of parties needing catered, I also try to host my own party, but I believe that this has only happened once in the five years that we have lived in our current house. It always seems like a good idea, but the best laid plans of mice and men …
And speaking of holiday parties, strange dream sequences, being a rude (and cheap) party guest and the holiday season in general, what in the name of God is up with people requesting vegetable crudité platters? I mean, seriously? Raw vegetables on a plate with Ranch dressing? I only ask this because of all the parties that I have attended over the years, and the hundreds of events that I have catered over the decades, there is always one platter of food that is almost full at the end of every event, without fail.
The vegetable crudité.
Damn the vegetable crudité.
Yet, people seem to insist that they have the platter on their holiday buffet. For chefs and creators, there is nothing less skillful that a clump of raw produce on a platter. Of course, if someone insists, then I will happily abide. That is our job as providers. But the real enhancement comes from the overly simple application of heat, lemon, vinegar, and a splash of oil. This is as simple and ’80s’ as it gets, but it certainly gets the job done. And, for chefs it is much less embarrassing.
One of the most awkward moments for me was working President Obama’s first inauguration at the DC Convention Center. While the committee paid millions for acts such as Maroon 5, Sting, Beyonce et al, they spent practically no money at all on the food.
There were no tables, as it was a community function or social function. And yes, there it was: The vegetable crudité. It was mortifying, but it wasn’t my engagement, so I did not have to spend too much time worrying about it. Let it go, Paul.
Who knows? Maybe that was a fever dream in a random nine minutes of extra sleep. I can only wish that it was.
Well, there goes my alarm again. Time to wake up.
2 ea. Yellow squash, sliced thick on the bias
2 ea. Zucchini, same
1 pt. Heirloom grape tomatoes, halved
1 head Cauliflower, cut into ‘steaks’
4 ea. Red bell peppers, cut into large pieces of flesh only
12 ea. Small, sweet peppers
1 lb. Asparagus, brown stems trimmed
1 ea. Red onion, peeled and cut into ½”rings
1 c. EV Olive oil
Trimix, to taste (Kosher salt, black pepper, granulated garlic)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c. Balsamic vinegar
Toss the ingredients together in a bowl, doing so carefully so as to not break up the onion.
Heat a grill to high and have a pan ready in which to place your grilled vegetables.
When placing anything on a grill, especially when it has been slathered with oil (flammable), always work from the back to front. This way, if there is a flare up, you won’t need to pass your hand through fire to place more ingredients on the grill. You are more than welcome. Follow me for more safety tips.
Grilling vegetables takes a little bit of precision, but it is incredibly simple. Merely feel for the moment that they are starting to get soft, namely the squash. Once they get too soft, they turn to mush quickly. Pull them off at the first sign of softening, and the carryover cooking will finish the job for you. It is always good to have a little bit of bite for your guests.
Chill the vegetables and they are almost ready to serve.
After they have chilled, taste the vegetables. Cold food needs more seasoning than hot, so what may have seemed sufficient before may leave the taste buds with a lackluster impression. Season once more to get the right balance.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College and owner of
boxcar40 and boxcar on main.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com;
By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3