Always try to elevate your craft. I sit with this thought each moment, always learning, always trying to improve what I do, what I give out. Cooking for me is just as much an art as making jewelry, painting or my yoga practice. Each facet is one to explore creating in different mediums. To be a good chef I believe one must have an acute sense of smell and refined palette, understand the balance of acid, heat, fat, salt, sweet and texture.
So it is in essence a performance piece to cook a meal.
I recently watched Jiro dreams of sushi, a documentary on his namesake's three star michelin sushi restaurant in Tokyo. A dance of hands, simplicity and precise execution, repetition.
I feel cooking is as painting, each chef stylistically follows different schools of thought...the minimalist, the abstract expressionist, the realist and so forth and I wondered where I fit in. Tactile as I am, visually motivated, texturally concerned.
I could never wear plastic gloves to cook. My hands need to have direct contact with my mediums, skimming fingers to find last bones in a filleted fish, feeling for ripeness in an avocado or pineapple, insuring the gills of a mushroom are still perky and not sadly laying one wet against another. I feel for firmness in a cut of beef, inspecting the marbling porosity in the fat and resilience of the flesh with a quick poke of finger.
Having spent the last two weeks cooking for 65 starving yogi's in the French alps I was in more physical contact with my medium than I have ever been, usually working with smaller groups and highly specialized menus this was such an incredible way of marrying my yoga practice to my cooking practice. I spent days mixing by hand for the sheer quantity made this a far more efficient manner to assimilate ingredients.
I sit with nature's breathtaking grandeur and power through a picture window in front of me, a blanket of green a swish of craggy cliff that is just being illuminated by the dawning sun and the power and majesty of cascading water as if in a magical Hans Christian Anderson fable. The repetitive conical shapes of the pine tree forest forge paths where they can taking root upon the impossible angular rock faces. The order of things in nature, wild and harsh offering itself to our imagination, I recall a Mary Oliver poem. Sixt Fer a Cheval, a hiking village in the French Alps is where I call home for the next two weeks. Where Artemis table has travelled to cook for a yoga retreat.
I work in constant effort to balance textures and flavors, and further to find surprising combinations.
This two weeks brought three of us together with very different palettes to marry in creating dishes that would sustain a group of advanced training yogis.
Each plate created was an effort in combining our backgrounds. As I post recipes from this trip you will see my contributions but I shall leave it to my colleagues to post theirs!!
As we made our way through week one, this first black bean burger arose. I have been making variations on this theme for years, this time around using brown rice as a starch instead of quinoa and sweet potatoes to add well, sweetness and an array of Indian spicing. I must admit when I am home, closer to Mexico than the French Alps, these burgers get fresh cilantro and a chipotle kick.
As for quantities, keep tasting your mix until the spicing you like arises!!
Black Bean Burgers
2 cups (cooked) black beans dried and soaked overnight then cooked fully (I throw an onion into the water roughly chopped an 1 tsp baking soda, it helps them cook more evenly)
3-4 medium to large sweet potatoes baked skin on, scooped out and mashed
1 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice ( could even use wild rice)
1 onion minced
1 clove garlic minced
spices used in Sixt
(cumin, cloves, coriander, turmeric, salt and pepper)
Saute' onion, garlic in extra virgin olive oil together until translucent, raise heat and add spices until you can smell them well, be careful not to burn. Add this to your cooked beans drained of water, sweet potatoes and rice or starch taste for desired spice and voila'! If your mix is too wet add more rice, cooking sweet potatoes this way usually gives you a dry sticky consistency.
Form patties and shallow fry in olive oil to brown and then transfer to parchment paper and bake at 350F 150C for about 20 minutes.
Garnish in Sixt was pickled onions, gherkins and a beautiful cabbage slaw by Marlene as well as a baked herbs de Provence zucchini by Coco and roasted sweet pepper with a gremolade by moi!
Rooted in love,