Recipe challenge, round one

Fans of the formerly-at-CMU-but-now-not blogosphere may be familiar with the recipe challenge between Julie and me. If not, a quick recap: person A picks 3-5 ingredients, with which person B must make a dish. Then person B shall pick another 3-5 ingredients, and so on.

Julie’s first challenge: beets, yellow mustard, angel hair pasta, cinnamon.

I’ll walk you through my mental process to make it sound like I am a totally sweet chef: Okay, angel hair, first. So, noodle salad, or noodles and sauce, or noodle casserole, or noodles with something on top. Options “sauce”, “casserole”, and “something on top” all don’t mesh with beets in my book, and certainly not when you throw in mustard and cinnamon. And angel hair doesn’t have much flavor, so anything goes with it.

Beets are sweet. They’re kinda like apples. Apples like cinnamon. Rock on. But yellow mustard? Dearest Julie, how cruel. I was tempted to substitute some mustard seeds and go Indian (with the cinnamon) because I’m on an Indian kick and mustard seeds are fun to cook, but she did say “yellow mustard.” Yellow mustard! Some pedestrian Plochman’s French’s Heinz junk mixing with the furious beets and lithe noodles. Huh. I won’t stand for this! I bought a little jar of Colman’s (of Norwich) Original English Mustard, which must be better because it costs more.

Okay, so we have this noodle salad (sounds so much more enticing than “pasta salad”) that’s gonna be sorta appley sweet with beets. Toss in a cucumber for more crunch without changing the flavor much. Break the pasta into small pieces so it’s easier to eat. We have our food. Now for the sauce.

I don’t know from sauce, but I do know that you can mix oil and vinegar and get a sauce. Plain vegetable oil (olive oil sounds awful here) and apple cider vinegar (there are the apples!). We need mustard and cinnamon, so throw them both in. How’s it taste? Hmm. Uhh… hm. Now the culinary hero in me says “it’s sweet, it’s tart… it needs something to balance the flavor towards salty and meaty… soy sauce.” The actual me just says “I like soy sauce,” and pours some in.

And it’s pretty good! I would eat it again! I might even make it for guests! But I have no taste buds. Please, make it for yourself, and tell me what you think; I’m quite interested.

And Julie! Round 2 is cranberries, squash of your choice, milk, and peas. Ooh, that might be bitchy. In keeping with the fun spirit of things, of course, cool recipes are more important than necessarily using all of those four particular ingredients. The gauntlet is thrown, take it up at your leisure.

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