Monday, September 30, 2013

Purple People: Eaters

You know what we don't eat a lot of? Purple foods.
For some reason, not a lot of purple edible stuff exists out there in nature.  Below is my account of how I tried to right this glaring palette omission on behalf of our palate.

The company I have worked for over the last 15 years has decided to "split" into two new division is going into a company that's trademark color will be purple.  In order to get everyone all excited and involved in making the change (change? I hate do most analytical-leaning people...have I mentioned that my company consists of about 90% scientists and engineers?) everyone was challenged to come up with ways to show how purple-y we could be.  I decided me and my co-workers beat the pants off of everyone else by being truly creative.  We would have a purple luncheon.  Here are some of our offerings...

Blueberry pie...not terribly outside-the-box creativity-wise....but it was tasty.  Also, it stained our teeth purple for an entire next weekend, so that should count extra.

Purple chicken.  I know it looks kind of sketchy, but it tasted Absolutely. amazing.  I'd eat this again no problem... apparently it was a cinch to make too...just four ingredients: chicken, Catalina dressing, cranberries and an onion soup packet.  It was extremely festive/Christmas-y tasting with the cranberries.

Blue corn chips straight out of the bag...the dip is what made it great.  There's a Tex-Mex restaurant chain in the South/Southwest (Chuy's) that has an AMAZING creamy jalepeno dip.  Our IT guy has been tweaking a knock-off recipe all is divine:
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3-1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-4 oz. can chopped jalapenos (more or less to taste) 
  • 1-4 oz. can chopped green chiles
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (fresh only, please)
  • 1-1 oz. packet of dry Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

    Throw it all into a food processor and viola!  A couple of drops of red and a drop of blue food coloring and it fit with the theme.

    Coconut crème cake sans coconut...Jenn made this without the coconut because she knows I'm weird about the flavor, hate the texture.  You basically take a white cake, poke holes in it and then pour sweet coconut milk over and let it soak with a light whipped cream icing.  Food coloring was used here as well to bring it into the correct color palette.

    Your basic coleslaw...just using purple cabbage instead of standard...this was your vinegar-based type (my preference) vs. the mayo-based.
    Mike's wife contributed cupcakes that were as yummy as they were pretty.

    Roasted egg plant...nothing too intricate...eggplant, olive oil, salt and pepper.  The trick is soaking the eggplant in a little briny water for a few minutes and then setting out on some paper towels before popping them in the oven to get the bitter out.

    Cori, a lady who works for another company, but shares office space with us decided to join in the fun and make purple deviled eggs.  She just boiled her eggs, halved them, scooped out the yolks and let them sit in some water with food coloring.  She deviled the yolks with your standard mayo, mustard, salt, pepper and a dash of vinegar.  She's from New York, so of course she did not have an egg plate...she also did something I hadn't encountered.  Normally, I don't much care for paprika sprinkled on deviled eggs...but Cori used Old Bay seasoning and I could actually dig that.  I wouldn't use it every time...but it made for an interesting kick. 

    Yeah...the grapes are kind of a gimme...but I don't get figs that often and I had forgotten how much I loved them.  My Me-maw had a fig tree in her yard when I was growing up and I used to love to scarf those things straight off the tree....where I learned an important life lesson: DO NOT EAT UNRIPE FIGS. Trust me on this one.

    Marie made what she called a pomegranate parfait.  It was much tastier than it looked.  I didn't get an exact recipe out of her...but it was basically low-fat cream cheese, cool whip and pomegranate juice and some sugar if I remember correctly.

    This was one of my offerings...purple pasta.  It was very good freshly made...sautéed red cabbage, red onion and garlic...toss with al dente pasta and topped with feta.  The next day it was a cold, purple gelatinous blobby in the future, only make what will be eaten at the initial sitting.

    I discovered these purple potatoes in the produce section of Publix and man, are they neat.  They are purple all the way through...when you cut them, they have this deep, beautiful variegated purple inside.  We just tossed them with some olive oil, fresh Rosemary picked out of Jenn's garden that morning and sea salt and pepper and roasted.  You really can't screw up potatoes.

    The recipe for this cabbage and kielbasa stew said that it was better the second go ahead and make it the night before.  The recipe lied.  I made it up the night before and Jeff and I both tried it and loved turned more purple overnight...that was for sure...but it really lost something of the taste of the kielbasa to the red cabbage overnight.  Still okay...but it was much better with just a couple of hours in the crock pot.  Full recipe:
    Saute chopped red/purple cabbage with a chopped onion, green bell pepper and two tablespoons of minced garlic.  Throw into crock pot with about 4 cups of chicken stock.  Slice and brown a pound of kielbasa and add to the crock pot.  Add a large can of diced tomatoes...salt and pepper to taste.  In two hours it will smell delicious...go ahead and eat it all because it will taste too cabbage-y in the morning and the kielbasa will be an unholy shade of purple.
    Also? Fair warning...after I had chopped up a whole head of the really, really purple cabbage?  It looked like I had violently murdered Grimace in my kitchen.  That shit bled onto every surface it encountered...and was determined to stay there.  It took A LOT of bleach-based cleaner to get the stains off my countertops and cutting board.  I had purple-tinged nails for several days.

    Finally, we had this masterpiece.  Jeff B (not my Jeff, the other one) made this black plum and fig tart.  Jeff B is our gourmet chef in residence.  I had bought the black plums and figs and had no idea what to do with them...I brought them to Jeff B and he returned with what you see above.  It was as good as it looks.  For the base he used this basic recipe:
    2 c. all-purpose flour
    3/4 c. finely chopped walnuts
    3/4 c. light brown sugar
    12 Tbl cold unsalted butter (yes, 12 Tbl)
    1 egg yolk
    Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl...add butter and egg yolk...mix until 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into the bottom of a tart pan.
    Then he mixed 8 oz of cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp of vanilla and an egg for the next layer and topped with the sliced plums (with some fig in the very center for effect) and the rest of the crumbled stuff used in the crust.  That's baked at 400 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

    I could have easily (and cheerfully) eaten the whole thing myself...12 tablespoons of butter and all.

    So there you have it...a purple feast.  I guess you could use this menu if you were hosting a Mardi Gras party...or if you were a Ravens or Vikings (or Barney) fan.  What you do with this information is really your own business.

    We did up a little power point presentation for the whole company purple challenge.  Sadly, despite our OBVIOUS superiority, we are running a distant second to a bunch of Yahoos at the home office in purple wigs that posted a video of them doing the Harlem Shake.

    Ah well, there's no accounting for taste.


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