Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mango Showdown

Ahh here we are again, the first challenge of 2010. You may remember the chicken challenge from last year. Well, we're back again with mango challenge, AND we've added another contender. TINA! from Brooks Pepperfire / Peppermaster and Operation Ayiti and don't forget to head over to Snack to check out Caty's submission.
So this is Challenge #2 Mango Showdown. 2 dishes for this one, Mango Scallop Ceviche, and Smoky Spicy Mango Sorbet.

#1 Mango Scallop Ceviche: This summer I was fortunate enough to attend a cooking class in Old Montreal with 4 wonderful friends. One of the dishes we made was a scallop ceviche. A ceviche is a raw fish preparation, but the amount of citrus in the marinade 'cooks' the fish. I've adapted the recipe to be spicier and more tropical (i.e. Mango).

1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped or grated zest of orange, lemon, and lime. Whatever combination / ratio you prefer.
3 toes garlic, minced (A Dutch friend of mine once sent me a recipe where he listed the garlic cloves as 'toes' I have loved that ever since)
The juice of 1 orange, 1 lime, and 1/2 lemon
8 large sea scallops (not bay scallops) sliced thinly
a pinch of salt
1 habanero pepper, minced
1 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
the cheeks of an underripe mango. What cheeks means is the broad flat sides of the mango where you can get the most meat. If you want you can take the rest of the mago flesh off the narrow sides, but I found that it was enough just to use the cheeks. The mango needs to be hard enough that it doesn't fall apart or add too much juice to the marinade but ripe enough that it's actually edible.

So, right, the pictures...
I used a vegetable peeler to remove the zest (the outer coloured area of the peel) from the citrus fruits. However, I guess the skin on the lime was too thin and I trespassed into the pith. You can see in the picture below, the white part. This is bitter and must be removed.

Here are some nice plump scallops, they shouldn't be mushy or smell like fish at all.

And don't forget to tweet while juicing the fruits :)

All ingredients except for the cilantro and put it in the fridge for a few hours. At least 3. You can see that the scallops have already started to turn whitish, this means that the 'cooking' process is starting.

Just before serving, add the cilantro and mix it up. I garnished. Yeah, you know it.

#2 Smoky Spicy Mango Sorbet: So January is sorbet month, as I may have mentioned. This one is not designed to cool you however. I paired the sweet juicy mango with the smoky spiciness of a VERY hot pepper. The Bhut Jolokia (AKA Naga Jolokia) peppers that I bought from Épices de Cru were of the smoked variety, and VERY VERY hot.

2 ripe mangoes (for some reason I can't help typing Mangies, I like that word better)
1 dried smoked Bhut Jolokia Pepper. For those of you who might be intimidated by the 'HOTTEST PEPPER' you might want to substitute with a chipotle or even an Ancho Pepper would be nice.
1/2 cup mango juice
2 cups simple syrup
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 tsp vanilla

To add to the smokiness, I cut and peeled the mangoes and then placed them in a very hot pan in order to char them. This WILL make a mess of your pan (burnt sugar is eeeeevil). After the fruit is removed I added 1 1/2 cups of water and the dried pepper. This will dislodge some of the material from the bottom of the pan and help to reconstitute the pepper.

To make the simple syrup, just combine a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar with water and heat until the mixture turns completely clear. Add that to a pot with the chopped charred mangoes (mangies) and the reconstituted pepper (also chopped), and the liquid from the frying pan.

Cook over medium heat until the mangoes are mushy and cooked through. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla and blend with an immersion blender or in a conventional blender. Add 2 tsp vodka and pour into a shallow pan. Freeze over night. And as usual, since the vodka is out, make a drink, otherwise it won't freeze, honest!

Then shave it with a spoon and put it into small cups to serve. Consider serving it with a piece of cake or buttered scone. This baby's spicy, you're going to need some help.

I can't wait to see what my 2 other challengers have cooked up, and you should too!

Mangoes are tasty, but one last thing to note, don't cut too close to the seed. The seed is fibrous and you will be flossing for hours if you eat the flesh that's too close to the seed.

That's all for now kiddies. I will post very soon about the upcoming Wine to Water event in Montreal (tentatively scheduled for mid-May) sponsored by Barefoot wines. Until then, happy mangoes and thanks for visiting the cheeseandolive national zoo!

xoxo -Candace

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sore Bays

I’ve been thinking a lot about sorbets, sorbets and non-traditional ingredients. In this post, I’ve done three. 2 were a success, one was a sad, perfumey mess. Rosewater is a harsh mistress my friends; tread lightly along that path. So January is sorbet month at the SnookRoussel Ranch. I’ve really enjoyed playing with it because you can experiment to your heart’s content. And if there’s a misstep, it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. My first stumbling block I was faced with was my lack of ice cream maker. You would think that you could just stick it in the freezer and presto, frozen right? Well, yes, it’s frozen, but you could also kill a man with it. The goal is something softer that you can then turn into an edible treat. The solution? Vodka. 2 tsps of vodka in a pan of sorbet prevents it freezing to a diamond-like consistency. It stays a little soft and you can easily shave it with a spoon. I WOULD like to know if there was an alternative to vodka, or spirits of any kind. While MY veins run with pure wine, I can understand if someone wouldn’t want to feed their child a spiked sorbet, even if it is only 2 tsp for the whole thing. Does anyone know of anything else one could use in the absence of an ice cream maker?

Well anyways, the three flavours of sorbet that I made were:
1) Grapefruit Basil
2) Pear Vanilla Rosemary
3) Blooming Tea and Rosewater (fail)

The beginning of all sweet sorbets should be a simple syrup. The recipe for that is simple, as the name suggests. Combine a 1:1 ratio of water to granulated sugar, and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. Let it cool.

For the grapefruit basil sorbet, I used 2 cups of simple syrup, 2 cups of fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice, and some nice wide strips of grapefruit zest. I heated it until it was boiling just a little bit and then shut off the heat and threw a handful of basil leaves in there to steep. About a 1/4 of a cup, maybe a bit less.

It then gets strained and poured into a shallow pan. This is the point where you add the 2 tsp of vodka. This is also the point where you make yourself a drink, you know, since the bottle is out already.

Wait overnight or many hours and you can shave it with a spoon into a bowl very easily, due to the vodka. Serve as a light dessert :)

Sorbet #2 Pear Rosemary Vanilla. I started out with the same 2 cups simple syrup. Then cooked 3 VERY RIPE pears and their juices in the simple syrup until they were mashably soft, the time really depends on how ripe your pears were to start out with. In retrospect, I would have added about 1 cup of pear nectar / juice because I found it too light on pear flavour. Then turn the heat down to low and add about 1 tsp dried rosemary (or more if you want) and the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean, or vanilla extract.

The next part gets a little messy, and I suppose you can use the same method for any flavour that has real fruit pieces in it. Our mesh strainer was being used so I used cheese cloth (available at supermarkets). After draining the liquid out into a shallow pan, I put the pear pulp into a little cheese cloth sack and twisted it tighter and tighter to extract the liquid from the pulp. I suspect that pushing the pears through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon would have been easier, but then I wouldn't have been able to share this slightly gross photo with you.

Again, it all goes into a shallow pan with 2 tsp of vodka. And have another drink at this point.
It won't work unless you do...

And overnight, PRESTO! Sorbet.
I love the little black seeds that you get from using the real vanilla bean.

Ugh, and Sorbet #3
Do I have to? ehhh okay. I thought this would be a great idea, it would be flowery and comforting. But it turned out to be a mouthful of bitter perfume. Blooming tea (don't know what flavour) and rosewater sorbet. It started with the same 2 cups simple syrup, 2 balls of blooming tea steeped in 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tbsp of rosewater... why am I writing this? It was terrible, no one wants the recipe... well after I realized it was terrible and all hell broke loose and I started adding vanilla extract and lemon juice, but nothing could save it. However it started out with a very pretty picture of the blooming tea. Incidentally, this was quite a difficult picture to take... when you have the perfect sunbeam on the floor and 2 cats.

Don't be fooled by my prompting, this was AFTER they had already had their way with the tea and I had to chase it across the floor three times. Oh and make sure you listen to it with the audio, apparently the music from the TV ties it all together... especially at the end heh heh heh (flush)

At this point I still thought that the sorbet would be a success, it was so pretty and then I forgot about the tea. This is where the bitter comes in. The other failing was WAY too much rosewater, as I may have mentioned before.

And then to add insult to injury, I thought that adding gin as the antifreeze alcohol would go well with the combination. Yeah, it didn't.

So I put it in the freezer anyways, and it was actually really pretty with lovely ice shapes. But by this point I knew it would not actually TASTE good.

Here is a picture of the scraping. I thought it might be helpful for the other more succesful sorbet attempts if I showed the scraping. It works very quickly and with not a lot of elbow grease.

And the final product. Kyle says that it's not that bad, as a garnish or in small quantities it is okay. But I think it's horrid and so I photoshopped the background in this picture to be all dark so that it looks a little sinister.

So the moral of the story is, sorbets are easy and fast to prepare (even though they take a while to freeze) but just be careful with the intensity of your flavours. You need to 'over flavour' a little bit to counteract the effects of the cold, but don't go overboard. If it's offensive before you freeze it, it will be offensive after you freeze it. And if anyone knows of an anti-freeze solution that doesn't involve alcohol, please let me know. Oh! And share your sorbets if you make any, I'd be interested to hear what people have tried or made.

On the Wine to Water Montreal Event newsfront, we have a wine sponsor!!!! Barefoot Wines will be sponsoring half the wine for the event!!! It's alive and well and we're well on our way to making it happen, so stay tuned for more developments.

Another reason to stay tuned is that Caty Marzi of Snack & I will be having another blog challenge at the end of the month, AND we have recruited Tina Brooks of Brooks Pepperfire Foods as our 3rd challenge member. VERY exciting! It is the Mango Challenge. Thanks again