I'm mighty impressed with Brett for having guessed the chef in this post. However, no one guessed that we were watching Mr. Gower do his thing in the epic demonstration kitchen at Purcell Murray's Lifestyle Showroom.
Purcell-Murray is a fascinating business. They are the wholesale distributor for several extremely high-end kitchen appliance brands (think La Cornue, Gaggenau, Thermador... you get the idea). Instead of leaving all the brand marketing to the retailers they furnish, they have taken product education to the next level by offering classes and demos to the public in their showrooms.
In other words, before you drop a mint on your fabulous new kitchen, you can try out the brands and appliances you're interested in. Brilliant people, I tell you.
So, when we were recently invited to attend a cooking demo and dinner with Eric Gower, author of The Breakaway Cook, we jumped at the opportunity.
I'll let you explore that website to learn about Gower's philosophy and all that -- there's nothing I could write here that hasn't been written better there. However, what I CAN tell you is that he is definitely on to something here.
So often, throwing together a meal on short notice or after a long workday (hah!) results in a "good-enough" meal, but one without much punch. Gower's idea that a handful of un-basics, kept on hand in the pantry or fridge, can turn simple dishes into extraordinarily flavorful dishes is one worth exploring.
Witness: Replace 1/3 of the water in a basic basmati or jasmine rice preparation with carrot juice, and add a bay leaf or two. The result is a fragrant, exotic rice which bears little resemblance to its bland predecessor.
Another one: He served us some scallops crusted with -- get this -- ground lentils. Again, taking something simple but giving it a kick with something you probably already have in your cupboards.
Gower refers often to what he calls "flavor blasts". It sounds a little cheesy on paper, but it sort of works once you taste some of his dishes. He's kind enough to put some of them on his website, here, but I have to tell you -- his is a cookbook worth picking up.
You'll find perhaps handful or two of recipes with more than 10 ingredients. The majority are simple but flavor-packed, and truly easy to put together on short notice, so long as you keep his few ingredients on hand.