I just have to say….I still love meat and potatoes. After writing about my culinary upbringing as if meat and potatoes were history, I felt I should set the record straight. Tonight’s dinner menu? Steak au poivre with a sherry-shallot-cream sauce, mashed new potatoes with garlic olive oil, steamed green beans with a little butter, and a small sliced tomato, served with a glass of the recently opened French Cahors dark red, a blend of Merlot-Malbec-Tannat. The steak au poivre recipe came from Mark Bittman‘s handy Kitchen Express cookbook (p. 144). Rather than detailed recipes with ingredient lists, the book offers 404 paragraph-style descriptions of seasonal dishes. It’s a great way to have a general “good idea” to work from and make it your own.
My meat and potato meal was not exactly Mom’s meat and potatoes, granted. Can it still qualify as spa food?
What qualifies food as spa food? The cleanest definition: Spa food is what you get at a world class destination spa. Ergo, recipes from cookbooks written by the chefs at world class destination spas also define spa food. Spa food is made from fresh, local foods. Spa food is predominantly vegetables and fruits with small portions of lean meats, poultry or seafood, and sometimes cheese. Overall, the portions are moderate (meaning no bigger than you need) and the flavor and seasonings are high, leaving one feeling very satisfied and not hungry. Spa food is often served in courses, with a small soup or salad followed by a moderate sized main course, and a small and tasty dessert to seal the deal.
My personal definition of spa cooking follows those guidelines. I cook a lot of dishes from the inspiring spa cookbooks and other “locavore” cookbooks I’ve collected. I try to keep portions per meal small. I often cook 2 – 4 servings so that I have leftovers for lunches or repurposing. For example, tonight’s steak was a thin cut eye round and about 3 oz. I cooked four potatoes, mashed them with a little 2% lactose-free milk and ate about half. Likewise the green beans were kept crisp and green. I cooked a handful and ate about half. Eating half is one of my techniques for having a bright and colorful plate, and not over eating. This also ensures me of leftovers that can be repurposed in new ways.
Remember those fava bean purees? Turns out it takes awhile to eat up a cup of fava beans pureed in two versions. This morning I added a cup of chicken stock to the puree that included goat cheese, blended it into soup and took it to work for lunch. I also took the rest of my blueberries (leftover from making ice cream) and two apricots. I sliced up the apricots, combined them with the berries and some thinly sliced orange bell pepper for a fruit salad, adding thin slices of a few leaves of basil and mint. For a dressing, I finished off the lemon vinaigrette made from the La Tartine Gourmande recipe for the fava bean tartine!
Next step for the mashed potatoes and green beans? Hmmmm, I’ll have to think about that!