To make these thin vegetable sheets, we used our vegetable slicer. In the past we have made ribbons and sheets of potatoes and Asian pear apples as well as beets and kohlrabi. The machine allows us to create large, thin sheets which can be cut into uniform sizes and then either: trimmed, cooked, pickled, compressed, dried, or infused with aromatic spices and liquids.
In the crab dish, the squash was seasoned with salt and lemon juice and then compressed to infuse and blend the flavors. The resulting sheet added a crisp vegetal element to the dish, while allowing us to hide one of the crab marbles on the plate, which could then be discovered during the eating process.
After the dinner, we began to look at certain elements which were created for that meal and pondered their further uses. The delicate yet slightly crunchy nature of the butternut squash sheets sparked the idea of a composed salad centered around the squash itself. In this composition the handkerchiefs are seasoned with salt and brushed with the syrup from our Buddha's hand confiture. (This confiture was used in our dessert from the other evening, though its inclusion in this salad proved essential as it piques the flavor of the squash and adds a floral sweetness to the salad.) A few slivers of Pecorino Foglio de Noche and some crumbled lardo-roasted pecans added earthy and decadent elements to the dish. A grinding of allspice and a few slices of the Buddha's hand confiture completed the dish.
What I find interesting as we arrange ingredients is both their versatility and the fact that proximity promotes design. As we work on developing dishes, it is our continued random tastings that spark combinations which we might have otherwise overlooked.
And while we were working with these ingredients today, we explored yet another preparation with many of these salad elements. The second dish was a warmed squash handkerchief topped with a slice of the Pecorino Foglio de Noche, accompanied by sauteed white miso gnocchi and a sprinkling of the lardo roasted pecans. The flexibility of the squash sheets literally and as a flavor element has triggered quite a few other ideas for root vegetables which we often corral into the soup and ragout pens rather than using them in salads and as delicate vegetable accompaniments. Finesse in the root cellar is a many splendored thing.