Showing posts with label Royal Foodie Joust. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Royal Foodie Joust. Show all posts

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Asparagus-Lemongrass Bisque with Herb Pesto and Spiced Almonds for Souper Sunday & Royal Foodie Joust

Today's soup is a "two-fer", as not only did I make it for Souper Sunday, I decided to use the ingredients selected for this month's Royal Foodie Joust from The Foodie BlogRoll. The three ingredients, selected by last month's winner, 5 Star Foodie, are asparagus, lemongrass and almonds. I decided to make a healthy, non-dairy Asparagus-Lemongrass Bisque with Herb Pesto and Spiced Almonds. I worked the three ingredients into the dish in different ways; the soup has a fresh lemongrass broth, lots of asparagus, and almond milk, the pesto has slivered almonds, lemon grass paste and mint and cilantro and the toasted sliced almonds on top are spiced with lemon-grass and Chinese 5 spice powders. The perfect soup to welcome Spring with, which is why the garnish became spiced almond flowers on shaved asparagus stems!

Asparagus-Lemongrass Bisque with Herb Pesto and Spiced Almonds
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 6 servings)

5 cups water
4 stalks lemongrass, lower stalks, peeled chopped into 2-3" pieces and bruised
2 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), halved, sliced thinly
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5-6 cups)
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups almond milk 

Bring water and lemongrass to a boil in a large pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sliced leeks and potatoes, return to boil and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Add asparagus. Reduce heat to medium; cover and simmer until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Puree using Immersion Blender or blender or food processor (If using blender or food processor, cool soup slightly first and puree in small batches). Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in almond milk. Taste again for seasoning, add more if needed. Serve warm or refrigerate until cold.  Serve with garnishes, (recipes below).


Herb Pesto

1 1/2  cup mint leaves
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup almond slivers
1 Tbsp lemongrass paste
1/4 cup olive oil
juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in food processor. Add water if needed to thin out pesto to desired consistency.


Lemongrass-Five Spice Almonds

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried lemongrass powder
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add lemongrass and five spice powders. Heat through and add almonds. Cook almonds, stirring constantly until browned and crispy.

Notes/Results: Thick, creamy, and delicious, but with the added benefit of being healthy. I was so happy with how this soup came together from my head to the bowl. All three of the components are great on their own but together they offer up layers of flavors and textures. You get the creamy, lightly lemony soup, then a brighter tangy herbal taste of the pesto and finally the nice spice and crunch of the almonds. The combination of the potato and almond milk make this soup creamy enough that you don't miss the usual cream that a bisque has. It goes together easily and would be a nice starter soup for lunch or dinner. I tried it both warm and cold and it works really well at either temperature. I will make this again.

You can check out all the RFJ entries at the Foodie BlogRoll Forum here. (If you are a Foodie Blogroll member, take time to vote for your favorite entry the week of April 3rd).

Let's see what other delicious soups are waiting in the Souper Sunday Kitchen this week:

Our first soup is from a new face at Souper Sunday, Alison from More Than Yesterday who comes to us from either Vancouver or the Bay Area (she spends time in both places these days). Alison is sharing a healthy Veggie-Miso Soup she created for a friend's potluck. This simple, light soup has tofu, bok choy and one of my favorites, enoki mushrooms, in a miso broth. Welcome Alison!

Like many of us, Kim from Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet, is trying to cook and eat some lighter and healthier foods these days, now that spring is here. This week she made a bright green Avocado Zucchini Soup to help her with that goal. Kim says it is "healthy and delicious" and tastes as good as it looks. Now she just has to convince her husband to join her on her journey to better fitness!

It's nice to have Tara, The Diva on a Diet, from Beach Eats back at Souper Sundays this week. She was feeling a bit under the weather and knew she needed some chicken soup. She found this unusual Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup with Turnips and the unique combo of the chicken, thyme, turnips and cheese appealed to her. Tara says the combo works, the soup's flavor is "extraordinary" and even her husband, not a turnip fan, downed two bowls!

At the beginning of the year, Ulrike from Küchenlatein, set a goal of making a weekly soup and she is sticking to it, sending her 10th soup so far to Souper Sundays. This week, her inspiration was almonds, the theme of a German blog event and she made an Almond Soup with Chorizo Oil. Thick and creamy with a kick from the chorizo oil, it is the perfect soup to warm up the still cool days and nights in Germany.

Another newcomer to Souper Sundays is Lissaloo from One Step at a Time, who joins us from Montana. She made a yummy bowl of Italian Wedding Soup from her Mom's recipe this week. Since it's still pretty chilly still in Montana, this hearty soup with it's orzo, spinach and mini meatballs really hit the spot. Her daughter loved sprinkling the cheese on her own little bowl! Thanks for joining us Lissaloo!

Natashya from Living in the Kitchen with Puppies has taken on Italy with Jamie Oliver's, My Favorite Ribollita (la mia ribollita preferita), this week. This very classic Tuscan "peasant" soup is full of tomatoes, veggies, beans and bread. Natashya says this ribollita, whose name literally means "reboiled", is hearty, filling and very tasty, especially with the cheese sprinkled on top.

I am happy to see Debbie from The Friday Friends, who is back this week with two soups to share. Debbie has a dream to open a soup restaurant, until then she makes soups for friends and for her book clubs where these soups were a hit. The first is Dreamy Clam Chowder, with lots of clams, potatoes and bacon. 

The second is a Turkey Soup (or Chicken Soup depending on your preference). This one has green and red pepper potatoes and corn. Debbie says they are both "REALLY GOOD soups!"

Preparing for a week of indulging with a visiting brother and her 10 year-old's Birthday, Suzie from Munch & Nibble felt the need to get some nutritious broccoli into her system. She found the perfect recipe, Broccoli Soup with Grilled Haloumi from an old Donna Hay Magazine. Suzie says that "the haloumi gives a lovely salty kick and a textural contrast to the smooth broccoli flavours." (Being a big fan of this salty, chewy cheese myself, this one is going on my "must try" list!)

Kait from Pots and Plots is here with a homey Crock Pot Lentil Soup. Temps in the 50's in Mississippi this week had Kait craving lentils and she decided to make a soup where they were "the star of the show". Wanting something easy, that she didn't have to watch, she pulled out her slow cooker and filled it with all kinds of good ingredients, allowing her the opportunity to do a little freezer "thinning" too.  

Stephanie from Dispensing Happiness is here this week with a lovely bowl of Italian Chicken, Bean and Pasta Soup. With homemade stock from a roast chicken, crisped proscuitto, beans, veggies and pasta, Stephanie says this is a "pretty awesome soup" and according to her husband Matt, it's "full of flavor and very filling"

Another week of creative and delicious soups and something for everyone! Mahalo to all the great bloggers who participated. (You can find more details about their soups on their blogs). If you want to share a soup or soup-like creation at Souper Sundays, you can find all the details by clicking on the Souper Sunday logo on the side bar.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Autumn Stuffed Acorn Squash with Fried Sage Leaves: Royal Foodie Joust for November

I have to admit I was a bit worried about November's Royal Foodie Joust ingredients; Sage, Oranges and Acorn Squash picked by last months winner, Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy Chewy. I love sage and oranges but acorn squash is another matter. I believe I have mentioned my dislike for pumpkin and the entire fall/winter squash family. I did find when cooked in lots of olive oil, pancetta and creamy risotto that butternut squash wasn't all that bad but acorn squash always seemed even "squashier" to me. How to make something I like and that tastes good out of something I really don't like that much seemed a bit daunting. Then when checking the forum to see who had posted entries, I kept reading how some wonderful bloggers and great chefs were challenged, scrapped their first attempts and were struggling with combining the flavors; as if that's not intimidating!!! None the less, the quest for the Royal Foodie Joust winners' badge and apron and the chance to pick December's ingredients moved me to action.
The result; a stuffed acorn squash, filled with quinoa, ground turkey, cranberries and assorted other goodies, flavored with sage and orange and topped with fried sage leaves--a little touch of Autumn in an Acorn Squash. And I have to say it--I really like my dish. The orange and sage stand out but not obnoxiously so and I found that acorn squash, like butternut, when combined with other things really isn't that bad. A big help was a blood orange infused olive oil that I found at Whole Foods. (If you can't find an orange flavored olive oil, just use regular olive oil and add more orange juice and orange zest). The sweet (cranberries and orange) combined with the savory (sage, spices and turkey) works well with the squash and the chewiness of the quinoa and the slight crunch of the pumpkin seeds add some interesting texture to the dish.

Autumn Stuffed Acorn Squash with Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 2
1 small to medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
1 1/2 Tbsp blood orange olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey breast
2 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 Tbsp orange juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat)
2 Tbsp blood orange oil oil
6 fresh sage leaves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut acorn squash in half and remove seeds. Place squash, cut sides down in a large baking pan and put enough water in pan to cover bottom. Bake for about 35 minutes until acorn squash is done and can be easily pierced with a fork.
Rinse and drain quinoa and place in a pot with two cups of stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until all broth is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat, stir and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat and add about 1 1/2 Tbsp of blood orange oil. When hot, add chopped onion, garlic and ground turkey, cooking until turkey is done and onion softened. Mix in cooked quinoa and add sage, dried cranberries, marjoram and thyme, mixing well and cooking a bit more until warmed. Add orange zest and orange juice and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and stir in toasted pumpkin seeds. Set aside.

Remove squash from oven, drain any extra water. Turn squash over and brush inside and rim with blood orange olive oil and salt lightly. Fill each squash half with turkey/quinoa mixture. Top with breadcrumbs and return to oven, baking about 10 minutes until topping is lightly browned.
As filled squash is baking, heat 2 Tbsp blood orange oil in small sauce pan over medium-high heat until lightly bubbling. Add fresh sage leaves a couple at a time, frying for about 30 seconds per side. Remove and drain on paper towel, salting lightly.
Remove squash from oven. Top with fried sage leaves and serve.

Notes/Results: This recipe is very easy and goes together pretty quickly--cooking the squash takes the longest time of anything. It is easily adaptable; if quinoa is not a favorite grain, replace it with rice, bulgar, cous cous, etc. For a vegetarian option remove the turkey, add tofu or veggies and more quinoa. I wanted the orange, sage and squash to stand out for the joust, but I think a turkey sausage would be excellent in this. Would I make it again? Yes and no: the filling definitely, I had some leftover filling and I am going to stuff it in cabbage leaves or a bell pepper because although I ate it and it was good, I am still not a huge acorn squash fan. If I had some acorn squash loving friends, I would make it as is for them. And the fried sage (I had it once in a restaurant in Seattle) is crispy and delicious and makes a fun garnish. Also the kitchen smelled delicious, scented with the orange and sage!

Great but challenging ingredients Susan--perfect for a joust where the bar keeps getting raised and the competition harder and harder! You can check out the other entries as they are posted here and if you are a Foodie Blogroll member, don't forget to vote for your favorite November 1-7.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fennel Frito with Parsley-Fennel Frond Yogurt Sauce and a Trio of Flavored Salts--October's Royal Foodie Joust

Its time for October's Royal Foodie Joust where Foodie Blogroll Members willing to face the challenge, take the three ingredients of the month and come up with a dish that best utilizes them. This month's ingredients were chosen by Protos (Peter) from Souvlaki for the Soul who won last month's joust with his Halvas recipe, and they are fennel (whole, ground or seeds), dairy (in any form) and parsley. Interesting and challenging ingredients for sure but I do love fennel so I was excited to take up the challenge. Having enjoyed fried (frito) fennel before, I love the flavor and texture and thought it was an excellent dish to play around with. I decided to dredge the fennel frito in a mixture of finely ground panko breadcrumbs, rice flour, Chinese Five Spice powder, pepper and a little salt. To work in the dairy and parsley, I combined some fennel fronds, parsley, and lemon juice in Greek yogurt for a flavorful dip. Finally to kick it up a notch, I made a trio of flavored salts to sprinkle on top of the sauce dipped fennel; Fennel Seed Salt, Parsley Salt and Chinese Five Spice Salt.

Fennel Frito

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, ground fine in small food processor
1/2 cup rice flour
1 Tbsp Chinese Five Spice powder
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, mixed with a Tbsp of water
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
2 fennel bulbs, washed, (fronds removed and reserved)

Heat vegetable oil to about 325 degrees F. Slice fennel bulbs lengthwise about 1/8" slices. Mix panko, rice flour, five spice powder, salt and pepper together in a medium shallow bowl. Mix egg and water together in another bowl. Dredge fennel slices in egg and then in the panko/rice flour mixture, shaking off any excess flour. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, carefully lower fennel, a few pieces at a time into the hot oil and fry 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat process until all fennel is fried. Serve immediately with Parsley-Fennel Frond Yogurt Sauce and Flavored Salts for dipping.

Parsley-Fennel Frond Yogurt Sauce

1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

In mini chopper or food processor, blend parsley, fennel fronds, lemon juice and olive oil until it makes a pesto like paste. Mix with yogurt, salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley and fennel fronds.

Instructions Trio of Flavored Salts:

To make all three salts you will need:
6 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice powder
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Using a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder, grind the fennel seeds until partially chopped. Wipe out the grinder and grind the dried parsley flakes until fine. Mix 2 Tbsp Kosher salt with 1 tsp of ground fennel seeds and put in small bowl or salt cellar. Repeat process with Chinese Five Spice powder and ground parsley flakes.

Results: I have to say it was delicious! The slight licorice flavor from the anise in the Chinese Five Spice powder really enhances the flavor of the fennel. The frying softens and sweetens the fennel. The sauce is refreshing with the lemon and herbs and dipping the fennel in the flavored salts really brings it all together. Each component works well on its own--the leftover sauce will be a wonderful salad dressing and the salts I will use on fish and popcorn. I am loving Chinese Five Spice Right now! I will make this again happily.

I did have a bit of a challenge getting the recipe together when (Squeamish people stop reading for a moment) I took a good little chunk out of the tip of my middle finger when attempting to see if my chop box would slice the fennel to the desired thickness. (the answer is no--I have an option for shaving it or a 1/4" slice only in my cheap little box). Basically I had to stop the process, stop the bleeding and clean the kitchen before resuming the process. (Note: when chopping fingers, even though it hurts like h*##, it is best not to dance all around the kitchen holding your finger up and cussing as it gives you a LOT of splatters EVERYWHERE to clean up). Luckily I bought some extra fennel in case I had issues so the dish remained clean. If sympathy votes are available, I do want it known that I really suffered for my art today! Actually I am not really asking for sympathy votes, let the dish stand on its merit, but I do like to have the chance to say "I suffered for my art!" (Squeamish people can resume reading now)

Well despite the throbbing finger, I really enjoyed this month's joust! Thanks to Peter for some wonderful ingredients. There are some great recipes already posted so don't forget to vote for your favorite dish this month if you are a Foodie Blogroll member. If you are not a Foodie Blogroll member you should be, so go see Jenn here and sign up!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Post #100! Ginger-Citrus Farro--Two Ways for September Royal Foodie Joust

I wasn't paying attention and suddenly realized that this is my 100th post! Wow--I can't believe it happened that fast. Who would have thought I would have 100 things to say in the little over four months I have been at this. I have had a lot of fun, gotten to know some great people and have expanded my cooking experiences. Thanks to all of you who come by and visit--it means a lot!

It's time for the Royal Foodie Joust again, another chance to get creative with the three ingredients chosen by last month's winner Kittie from Kittens in the Kitchen. Her entry last month was truly spectacular and she chose three great ingredients for this month's joust: whole grains, ginger and citrus. I had my whole grain picked out pretty quickly as I had bought a small bag of farro the other day that I had been wanting to cook with. Farro, if you aren't familiar is (according to the Whole Foods website which seemed to have the simplest description) "an unhybridized grain belonging to the wheat family" (you can read the rest of the description here). I was torn between making soup or making a salad and finally decided to make a base ginger-citrus farro recipe and add a few different ingredients so it could be served either way. I like having the option of a bright refreshing grain salad on a hot day and a soothing earthy soup on a cooler day.

My base recipe includes the cooked farro, ginger, lemon zest, lemon juice and orange juice along with some edamame, green onion, chopped cilantro and thin pieces of carrot. I just boiled the farro in some vegetable broth for about 20 minutes, drained and lightly rinsed it and added the other ingredients and some seasoning. It was surprisingly good on it's own --maybe I should call it Ginger-Citrus Farro three ways!

For the salad I wanted to make it refreshing and really pump up the citrus flavor. I added some chopped cucumber, chopped orange sections, a few large shrimp and a garnish of mint and dressed it with a ginger-citrus vinaigrette. Served in small butter lettuce cups, it was bright, flavorful and filling.

I wanted the soup to be light but still earthy and comforting so I looked to a Japanese dish I enjoy; Ochazuke. (Also called Chazuke, its a very simple dish where a liquid, often green tea is poured over rice, sometimes with savory toppings, in a small bowl). Using the farro base in place of the rice, I also added some tofu pieces, shitake mushrooms and some pickled ginger. For the tea broth, I used a Mandarin green tea and added a couple of pieces of peeled. chopped ginger to the tea while brewing. I also sprinkled it with a bit of maccha salt to further enhance the flavor.
Ginger-Citrus Farro
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (low sodium preferred)
1 1/2 cups farro (I used a semi-pearled farro for quicker cooking)
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame
2 Tbsp grated carrot
2 tbsp chopped green onion
2 Tbsp cilantro
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
Rinse farro and put it in a medium sauce pan with broth. Bring to a boil and cook covered for 20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Rinse lightly and drain cooked farro and place in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. Eat as is or use in salad or soup recipe below.

Ginger-Citrus Farro Salad with Shrimp
Ginger-Citrus Farro mixture
1/2 cucumber, chopped and seeded
1/3 cup orange sections, chopped
large, cooked shrimp (4-5 per serving)
2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped
Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
butter lettuce leaves, washed and separated for serving (optional)
Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp good olive oil
2 tsp freshly ground ginger
1 garlic clove crushed
1 pinch sugar or stevia
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and pour over salad.
To assemble salad mix ginger-citrus farro base with cucumbers and orange and dressing. Place a large scoop of salad in a butter lettuce leaf and place shrimp on top, garnish with mint leaves.

Ginger-Citrus Farro Soup (Ochazuke)
Ginger-Citrus Farro base
firm tofu, cubed (about 1 heaping Tbsp per serving)
shitake mushrooms, chopped (about 1 heaping Tbsp per serving)
pickled ginger (2-3 pieces per serving)
salt and pepper to taste
*Citrus-green tea brewed with two 2" pieces of ginger, peeled
Brew tea, adding 2 small pieces of peeled, ginger to tea and allowing it to steep 4-5 minutes. Place a large scoop of Ginger-Citrus Farro base in a small bowl. Garnish with tofu, shitakes and pickled ginger, salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, pour brewed tea over mixture and serve immediately. (*Note: if you can't find a citrus infused green tea, you can serve soup with wedges of lemon to squeeze in.)

So there you have it--you can enjoy the ginger-citrus farro on its own, as a simple nourishing soup or a bright, cool salad. All dishes go together easily and the citrus and ginger flavor were fully present in the base mixture as well as the soup and salad. There are some wonderful dishes posted already for the joust so it should prove to be another great battle this month. You can check it out here. (and if you are a FoodieBlogroll member, don't forget to vote for your favorite September 1-7th).

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ahi, Avocado & Crab Tower with Sesame-Cilantro Emulsion & Sesame-Wonton Chips--August Royal Foodie Joust

Its time for the Royal Foodie Joust again and time for my third entry. Although I was very proud of my entry last month East Meets West Pasta with Ginger-Apricot-Turkey Meatballs, (find it here)it did not even come close to winning. (Its rough out there with so many talented people entering some truly amazing recipes!). Hey, I'm not going to lie, winning would be fantastic, between the cool personalized apron, the winner shield on your site and the chance to pick the next three ingredients (oh the power!) but I really enjoy the process of trying to come up with a creative recipe using the three ingredients selected by the previous month's winner. This month the ingredients were chosen by Peter at Kalofagas--Greek Food & Beyond and are three favorites of mine: Cilantro, Sesame (oil, paste or seeds) and Seafood (your choice).

Cilantro is a pretty polarizing ingredient, people either love it or hate it and I am actually surprised at how many people hate it. Lucky for me I am a cilantro lover and pretty much always have some in my veggie drawer. I also love sesame seeds and sesame oil and of course, bring on the seafood! I was torn between doing something with ahi and doing something with crab and finally decided to use both. Since it is summertime (thus making it marginally hotter here in Hawaii), I decided to limit the actual "cooking" and do something cool, easy to put together, full of flavor and a little "showy" that would be perfect to "dazzle" friends at a summer party. I ended up with a tower consisting of a layer of sesame ahi poke to celebrate Hawaii (If you are not familiar, poke, meaning "to slice or cut" is a popular fish salad usually served as a pupu or appetizer here in Hawaii-- learn more about Poke here), a layer of another favorite--avocado, and finally a layer of crisp, cool crab, lime and cilantro salad. The tower, surrounded and topped with a sesame-cilantro emulsion is a medley of flavors and colors, served on crisp sesame wonton chips. The three layers and emulsion go together quickly and a quick baking of the chips in the oven is the only "cooking" required (and that can be done in advance), making it an easy, minimal effort for a big impact dish.

Ahi, Avocado & Crab Tower with Sesame-Cilantro Emulsion & Sesame Wonton Chips

Ahi Poke Layer
5-6 ounces of sashimi grade ahi tuna cut into small cubes
1/2 medium onion, diced finely
1/4 cup chopped green onion (green part only)
1/4 cup ogo seaweed (optional)
1/4 cup shoyu (soy sauce)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sea salt or Hawaiian Red Alaea salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Carefully mix all ingredients together.

Avocado Layer
1 medium avocado chopped into small pieces
juice and zest of 1 lime
Carefully mix avocado with lime juice and zest.

Crab Layer

6 oz lump crab, rinsed and picked through to remove any shells and drained well
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Carefully combine rinsed and drained crab with cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Sesame-Cilantro Emulsion
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped coarsely
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp sesame seed oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If needed add additional sesame oil or water to get to a thin, pourable consistency.


Baked Wonton Chips
1 package wonton wrappers
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut wonton skins in half diagonally to form triangles. Spread in single layer on large cookie sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush with sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds and salt evenly over wonton skins, lightly pressing seeds into wonton skins. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until lightly crisp and browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Chips can be made ahead, cooled and stored in an airtight container for up to a few days.
To Assemble the Tower:
On the center of a serving plate, place a 3 1/2 inch ring mold. (I could only locate molds that were about 3 inches tall so I used two--one on top of the other)

Using a slotted spoon (to drain any excess liquid), fill the ring mold with about 1 & 1/4 inch of the ahi poke mixture, pressing it gently but firmly into the mold in an even layer.

Next, repeat the process with the avocado layer, ensuring you have an even, firmly packed layer.
Add the top layer of crab following the same process.

Carefully remove ring mold. Pour or spoon the cilantro emulsion around the base of the tower and drizzle some on the top layer. Garnish tower with both toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds. Place wonton crackers around the base of the tower. Serve.

My hastily assembled tasting panel was a bit leery about the number of ingredients and different flavors when I brought out "The Tower". (Oh ye of such little faith!) Once they tasted it however, they wouldn't stop eating it. The flavors all worked together, complemented each other and the sesame and cilantro were fully apparent.

Its not an inexpensive appetizer but you should be able to find both good quality crab and ahi at Costco in larger quantities for bigger groups. If you aren't a fan of ahi or crab you could substitute another fish or shell fish and if your friends are scared of "raw" fish--get different friends! (Just kidding!!! I have plenty of friends and family who won't eat raw fish too!), you could certainly sear the fish, or use pieces of a cooked fish and still end up with something good.
Being a poke lover, but always buying it rather than making it, I was amazed at how easy it is to make really fresh, delicious poke at home and will be doing just that often. I would make this recipe again and now that I own the rings, I need to come up with more things to "stack" as it is just so fun and festive!

One thing I would do differently is reverse the order of the layers (I did in the recipe I wrote above). I thought I wanted the poke on top for the bright color but since the crab is so much lighter in weight, it ended up being a bit flatter than it started out and so a bit "lost" due to the weight on top. Structurally, the crab is best on top, so that's how I'll make it next time.

Wish me luck in the Joust! Voting, (done by Foodie Blogroll Members--consider joining if you haven't already--there are a couple of thousand great blogs and wonderful people on it!) begins on August 1 through August 7th. You can check out the other entries here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"East Meets West Pasta" w/ Ginger-Apricot Turkey Meatballs--July Foodie Joust

After joining the Foodie Blogroll last month, I entered my first Foodie Joust for June. (My entry is here) I had such a great time creating something out of the 3 assigned ingredients (selected by the previous month's winner), that I had to enter again this month. The three ingredients for July are Apricots, Ginger and Butter, chosen by Erin at the Skinny Gourmet. Not being much of a baker and liking my savory entry last month, I decided to go for savory again. Thinking about apricot and ginger led me towards doing something Chinese or Asian style. Trying to work in a bit more butter, led me to thinking about buttery noodles or pasta. Combining it all together, I created my "East Meets West Pasta", baked turkey meatballs with apricots, ginger and butter; in a tangy sweet sour pasta sauce featuring tomatoes and apricot preserves; served on top of a buttery, ginger-spiked Chow Fun noodles mixed with Edamame.

Ginger-Apricot Turkey Meatballs
4 oz dried apricots
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup parsley
1 small onion
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 Tbsp fresh ginger grated (about a 2" piece)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using food processor, one at a time grind the apricots, cilantro, parsley, onion and garlic. Place in a medium mixing bowl and add grated ginger, panko, eggs, melted butter, salt and pepper. Using hands, mix until evenly combined and form into small meatballs--about 1 1/4 " or so. Place meatballs on large baking sheet lined with foil and baked until cooked through, about 12-15 minutes. (Makes about 32 meatballs)
Meatballs ready to go in the oven

Sweet and Tangy Pasta Sauce
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup (8 oz) apricot preserves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp sriracha chile sauce
1/3 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan, melt butter and add ingredients up to sriracha chili sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Stir in mirin, tomato paste, salt and pepper, reduce heat and simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes.

Buttery Ginger Chow Fun Noodles with Edamame
1 package dried Chow Fun Noodles (Hula Brand)
healthy pinch of salt
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp ginger grated
1 cup cooked, shelled edamame
Cook noodles with a pinch of sauce according to package directions until al dente(about 9-11 minutes). Meanwhile heat butter and ginger in a small saucepan over low heat. Drain noodles and toss with ginger-butter sauce and cooked edamame. (If you can't find Chow Fun Noodles--usually in the Asian section of your grocery store or speciality market, you can substitute dried fettuccine noodles).
Assembling East Meets West Pasta: While meatballs are baking, put pasta on stove to cook. Assemble sauce. (You can cook edamame in microwave or on stove top). Place noodles in serving bowl, top with meatballs, pour sauce over top, garnish with chopped cilantro.
The verdict--very tasty! (Which is good because I was worried while I was making it that it would end up tasting pretty funky!) The butter and apricots made the turkey meatballs delightfully moist and tender. Slightly sweet and spiked with ginger, they were delicious topped with the sauce. The sauce, sweet from the preserves and mirin, tangy from the ginger and rice vinegar with a kick from the sriracha chili sauce was not too heavy. The buttery noodles also had a kick of ginger and the edamame added some nice color and texture. Since the recipe made a good amount, I took some to work and gave it to my friend Julie who took it home and shared it for dinner with her husband. They both enjoyed it and her husband liked the sauce especially. The flavors compliment each other and work nicely together. Could you argue that you don't really need the butter? You could, but it adds a lot to the noodles and meatballs--so go ahead and add it in!
Flecks of sweet dried apricot in every bite of meatball

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Lime-Almond Crusted Halibut with Raspberry-Chipotle Chutney--Royal Foodie Joust for June

The Foodie Blogroll is a great list dedicated to food and cooking related blogs; bringing them all together in one place to network and share. The brainchild of Jenn, The Leftover Queen, I had seen the Blogroll on other sites and I recently signed up. I decided to do my first Royal Foodie Joust, a monthly event where everyone gets the same 3 ingredients and has to come up with a recipe using all of them. This month the ingredients were chosen by Elle at Elle's New England Kitchen and ended up being Raspberries (fresh or frozen), Lime (in any form--zest, juice) & Almonds. Elle was hoping for both sweet and savory interpretations of these ingredients. I decided to be brave and take up the challenge with a savory dish (yikes!) so I put on my thinking cap and came up with the recipe below. I struggled with what to call the sauce--salsa?...coulis? ...I finally ended up deciding it was similar to a chutney (sounds much more exotic than sauce I think!)
Lime-Almond Crusted Halibut with Raspberry-Chipotle Chutney
(Serves 2 with extra Chutney leftover)

Raspberry Chipotle Chutney
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 glove garlic
1 chipotle chili (finely chopped) and 1 Tbsp adobo sauce (from canned Chipotle in Adobo)
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
zest and juice from two limes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over high heat until sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, without stirring until sugar begins to caramelize around the edges, about 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile heat oil in a medium pan and add onion and garlic, cooking on medium until onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Zest two limes and set aside zest. Remove sugar syrup from heat, add the 1 1/2 cups of the raspberries, raspberry vinegar and lime juice and stir together, breaking up the raspberries. Pour mixture through a sieve and use spoon to push out liquid and strain out and discard the seeds. To the raspberry liquid mixture, add the onion, chopped chipotle, adobo sauce, remaining 1/2 cup of whole raspberries and cherry tomatoes. Simmer over low heat about 10 minutes to thicken and then add lime zest and chopped cilantro. Serve warm over halibut.

Lime-Almond Crusted Halibut
2 6 oz Halibut fillets (or other mild, white fish)
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1 slice fresh white bread
1/2 cup Marcona almonds
2 tsp lime juice, fresh squeezed
2 tsp lime zest
2 tsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place bread and almonds into blender or food processor and pulse to make coarse crumbs. Spread bread/almond mixture on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven until brown and toasty, about 5 minutes. Place toasted mixture, lime juice, zest and melted butter in a small bowl and mix to combine and set aside. Heat olive oil on medium-high in a 10" saute pan. Lightly season fish with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat, about 3 minutes per side, until it is cooked through and flakes easily. Heat lime-almond crust mixture for 30 seconds in microwave. Transfer fish to plate and top with warm lime-almond crust mixture. Spoon warm Raspberry-Chipotle Chutney mixture over fish. Serve with rice and green salad.

The verdict--surprisingly good! All three flavors were present in the dish and the smokey, spice from the chipotle mixed well with the sweetness of the raspberries and the tang of the raspberry vinegar and lime. I am not normally a fruit and protein fan, but I really liked this dish and although it takes a little effort and some steps to put it all together, it was very easy to do. I have some lamb loin chops in the refrigerator that I will try with the leftover chutney.


Here is a picture of the lamb loin chops with the chutney I made the next night. It was equally as good. Yes, it the same side dish--not very imaginative I know, but have to use up that saffron rice and it pairs so well with the chutney.