To try Regina's recipe for roasted chicken, pork, or rabbit with mustard sauce, click here.
Matchmakers have been around for generations, but the Internet has created a new science out of an old art. Before the Internet, it was a matchmaking friend who put my husband and I together. I first met my husband when I worked with his then-girlfriend. Not long after I met him in Anchorage, Alaska, he went to work in London. I went on to work out in the bush of Alaska to save money to attend cooking school in Paris. A mutual friend would take every opportunity to tell each of us that the other had inquired about the other, when neither of us had inquired about the other. At some point this worked and we had a date.
I remember on our first date, he ordered my meal for me at a very nice restaurant that did not go over well with me. He soon redeemed himself when he left three albums at my doorstep; it made me take a second look. He left Louis Armstrong's "Live in Paris," Van Morrison's "Moondance," and he says the third was the soundtrack album "Ain't Misbehavin'," but I distinctly remember it being Angela Bofill. More dates and gifts were then followed by a trip together to London, Paris, and Oktoberfest, and the rest is history—and lots of it.
Like the art of matchmaking, salt and pepper are as old as dirt but in the past couple of years this ancient duo has been marketed as modern. On Sunday night, when I needed just a taste of something, I opened the kitchen cabinet and there was salt and cracked black pepper popcorn, and salt and pepper chips from potato to pita. This is an observation more than a complaint, as I am a dedicated fan of salt and pepper.
I would have to consider myself a salt snob. When it comes to salt, for me it's fleur de sel—yes, from the coastal salt ponds of France, hand-harvested, slightly pink in color, with a crystalline texture that slowly melts in the mouth. Although I had spent a good amount of time in France, it was 12 years ago at La Grenouille in New York where I truly understood why fleur de sel was the cream of the crop. One of my all-time favorite dishes in the world is their poulet grandmère—perfectly poached chicken and vegetables, in white wine and horseradish. The sauce is then reduced and a touch of butter whipped into the reduction, and it is all served with a round of Dijon mustard and pink sea salt on the side of the plate. I instantly understood its worth. It was simple, but perfection.
As far as pepper goes, I like cracked black pepper the best. I love the taste of black pepper and enjoy a courser grind to really get the true flavor of this treasure, which is made from the unripe fruit of the Piper nigrum plant, a flowering vine native to South India.
Salt and pepper are most definitely a perfect match, but I have also been thinking of some of my other favorite food duos:
• Oysters and caviar. One of my favorite dishes from my previous restaurant was baked oysters with a beurre blanc, caviar, and crisp fried beet curls on top. But more often I would have a small, salty oyster, ice-cold and topped with salty caviar, and that cannot be beat.
• Mustard and white meat. Chicken, pork, or rabbit in a mustard sauce works for me every time, especially if you add garlic and thyme and a touch of cream.
• Lemon and capers. Anything Picatta.
• Port reduction with star anise. This can go on everything from a steak to quail, and no one will believe it is just two ingredients.
• Bacon and brown sugar. My skewered bacon baked with brown sugar is one of my favorite two-ingredient recipes.
• Creole tomatoes with homemade mayonnaise. The best summer has to offer.
• Saint-André cheese and fresh figs. Triple-cream cheese with figs is nirvana.
• Cinnamon and sugar. The perfect combination to transform something as simple as toast into something desirable.
• Chocolate with orange. In chocolate-orange bread pudding or orange zest in chocolate mousse, I find orange the best compliment to chocolate.
• Peanut butter and grape jelly. On white bread, of course.
Whether you are put together on Match.com or by a friend, like salt and pepper, peanut butter and jelly or chocolate with orange, when it works, it works.
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