Going All-Out for Quality

DinnerPartyThere are times when all I want to enjoy is a simple salad with canned tuna (maybe I’ll get fancy and add some capers…), but there are also times when I like to go all-out with cooking. More often than not, the latter scenario is attached to a social event or dinner party. My inner chef was dying for a challenge, and so I went on a Whole Foods excursion – I grabbed two bunches of carrots, some apples, lemons, and thyme (my favorite herb) to create a gorgeous dinner, with Tilapia with Carrot-Apple Purée as the main event.
Carrot-Apple Puree2I have discovered that I am obsessed with roasted root vegetables: sweet potatoes, carrots, beets…I can’t have enough of these beauties. Depending on the type, roasting can imbue a sweeter taste that almost gives them a “candy-like” flavor (they are much healthier for you than candy, of course). I roasted whole carrots for this dish, and then sautéed an apple with some herbs and shallots…I’m not really sure what came over me, but folks this was ridiculous. Please try it…you can even skip the fish, but this purée
BlackenedTilapia2Tilapia is probably one of my favorite fish – it cooks in a flash, and doesn’t have a strong “fishy” flavor. For this recipe, I made a quick dry rub and added some fresh thyme to create a beautiful blackened texture. You can use any spices for rub that you like, or even a store-bought one (though I promise that homemade will yield a much better result). My advice is to allow the rub to sit on the fish for about 15 minutes or so, to let the flavors settle.
BlackenedTilapia1After plating the fish, I gave each a squeeze of lemon for an added burst of freshness. It was a stunning entrée, and paired with the purée it was truly irresistible. To see how I made this dish, click HERE. I paired the fish with two sides: the first was a favorite, Lemon-Garlic Broccoli(recipe HERE). The second was a creation all my own, driven by my love for colorful salads that can pack a nutritional punch: Quinoa Salad with Orange & Cumin Vinaigrette. I tried to tie all the flavors together in this meal, and added cumin to the dressing to complement both the tilapia rub and the carrot-apple purée. You’ll go back for seconds on this one, I promise – click HERE to see the recipe.
QuinoaSaladAn “all-out” kind of meal meant a special musical pairing. Anyone who has ever attempted to perform a Baroque edition in it’s natural notation understands that interpretation of this genre is a true art. It’s not about adding a trill here or appogiatura there – it’s about having an understanding of the foundation, which should inform any added colors and expression. This led me to two true afficionados on this approach: Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr, performing their rendition of Corelli’s Sonata for Violin in E Minor, Op. 5 no. 8. In considering how to describe this piece, Manze himself says:

“Arcangelo Corelli published Opus 5 on 1st January, 1700, his one and only set of violin sonatas, and arguably the finest and most influential ever assembled…all other baroque sonatas can be defined as being pre- or post-Corelli…”

What’s brilliant about their performance is both the synergy and natural flow they maintain throughout – Correlli only includes a basic bass and treble line in the score, with no adornments or harmonies included. As is the case with most Baroque works, this music requires a very intuitive performer who can give musical voice to an otherwise austere composition. The knowledge can only get you so far, as inherent understanding of musical expression is a vital piece as well. This performance shows that when you go “all-out” on interpreting the written meaning and foundation of a piece, the result will be utterly breathtaking – enjoy!

Source Cited:

“Corelli Violin Sonatas Op. 5 Review,” by Andrew McGregor. BBC-Music.com

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