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Archive for December, 2009

Chrismukkah Meal #1

We had our first Chrismukkah meal on Sunday. It was a modified version of the “Viva Hanukkah” meal from this month’s Bon Appetit, and it was DELICIOUS!! There were 6 hearty eaters, and for the first time in my life we had the perfect amount of food (i.e. just enough leftovers to know that nobody went hungry, but not enough to feed us for the entire week). Here’s the menu:

  • Latkes with Ancho Chile Salt
  • Watercress, Cilantro, and Mango Salad with Lime-Chile Dressing
  • Grilled Antelope Steaks with Butternut Squash Puree and Pomegranate-Chile Sauce (Bon Appetit used roast duck breast)
  • Toasted Coconut Souffles with Cranberry Sauce (this recipe was a GIANT FAIL – I followed the directions exactly and it FELL – Shame on you, Bon Appetit! You really should test your recipes before publishing them!)

I find Bon Appetit‘s recipes very difficult to follow. They combine totally separate recipe elements into the same list; they separate the instructions from the ingredient lists; they don’t always test their recipes. What really gets me is that their recipes are not consistent – sometimes they work exactly like they say, and sometimes they don’t, so you never, ever know what you’re going to get – a delicious puree or a fallen souffle. What Bon Appetit really needs to do is pay me to edit and test their recipes 🙂 But I guess I’ll just it for free so that it’s all in one place for when we make this stuff again:

Course #1: Latkes with Ancho Chile Salt and Watercress Salad

Ancho Chile Salt

2 large dried ancho chiles

1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt

  • Pull stems out of chiles, and then use scissors to slice them open down length wise.
  • Seed and de-pith the chiles, and then place them in a skillet over medium heat until darker and aromatic, about 2 – 5 minutes per side.
  • Grind finely with kosher salt in a spice mill. We don’t have a spice mill, so we used our blender and it worked fine.

Latkes

2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups chopped white onions, divided

2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

1 large egg

1 Tbsp masa harina, toasted

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 Tbsp (or more) vegetable oil for frying

  • Drape smooth kitchen towel over large bowl.
  • Place chopped potatoes and 1 cup onions in food processor and blend until the mixture is very finely ground, scraping sides of bowl often.
  • Scrape mixture into towel.
  • Gather towel tightly around the mixture, and then squeeze out at least one cup of liquid (but if your kitchen assistant has the strength of 20 men, tell him to tone it down a few notches so that the towel doesn’t burst – trust me).
  • Scrape dry mixture into another bowl, and then add egg, masa, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 1/4 tsp coarse salt, and 1 cup onions.
  • Stir until mixture becomes moist and sticks together (the salt will draw out additional moisture, and I am not sure how the starch thing works).
  • Heat 6 Tbsp oil in a large skillet. For each latke, drop 1 rounded tablespoon full of potato mixture into skillet; flatten to 2.5-inch diameter round, and fry until golden brown.
  • Add oil as necessary.
  • Place on drying rack so oil can drain off.

Watercress, Cilantro, Mango, and Chile-Lime Dressing

This idea evolved as we made the meal, so we threw it together at the last minute and forgot to measure, so a lot of it is “to taste.”

2 large bunches watercress

1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped (minus the 2 Tbsp you used in the latkes)

1 Mango, thinly sliced

Juice of 1 lime

3 Tbsp pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 Tbsp chile salt

Additional salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Garlic powder, to taste

2 Tbsp assertive red wine vinegar

4 Tbsp grapeseed oil

1 Avocado, sliced

  • Wash and drain watercress, and remove the hard-to-chew stems.
  • Place watercress, cilantro, mango slices, and pepitas in large bowl.
  • Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chile salt all around.
  • Cut the lime in half and move it around in a spiral over the salad, drizzling the delicious juice all around the bowl of greens (and stuff).
  • Drizzle the vinegar and then the oil around the bowl in the same spiral patter you used for the lime.
  • Toss the salad, and then plate it up as shown in the picture (we had a little extra after plating it up for 6, but I just put it on the table and it got eaten).

THE PLATING

  • Place 2 – 3 latkes on each of six plates.
  • Place avocado slices on each plate.
  • Place some watercress salad on each plate.
  • Sprinkle chile salt over everything in an artful manner. Use a flamboyant flourish to remove any chile salt from your fingers. This will impress your guests.

Course #2: Grilled “Speedgoat” Steaks with Butternut Squash Puree and Pomegranate-Chile Sauce

I swear it's not blood! It's the pomegranate chile reduction sauce and it was delicious! Obviously, I need a squeeze bottle for more precise drips and smears.

Pomegranate-Chile Sauce

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

2 cups refrigerated pomegranate juice (like Pom)

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

4 large dried California chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces

1 1/2 tsp adobo sauce from canned chipotle chiles in adobo

1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp ground cumin

Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • Stir sugar and water together in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Increase heat and boil until syrup is a deep amber color, swirling pan occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  • Add juice and broth, stirring constantly (syrup may solidify as you add the juice, but it will melt again when the mixture heats up).
  • Add chiles.
  • Boil until sauce has reduced to about 1 1/2 cups (about 25 minutes).
  • Remove from heat; puree in a tightly covered blender until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  • Transfer to bowl, and mix in adobo sauce, vinegar, and cumin.
  • Season to taste with a generous amount of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grilled “Speedgoat” Steaks

My dad acquired some Speedgoat steaks from a friend (well, he called them Antelope steaks – see my brother’s comment below), so I kind of planned this meal around them. I just thought that the strong flavors from the pomegranate reduction sauce would go nicely with big game. You could substitute regular beef steaks, or buffalo, or venison – whatever you have available to you.

3 lbs antelope steaks

Drizzle of olive oil

Coarse kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Finely minced garlic

  • Rub salt, pepper, and garlic onto steaks a couple of hours before grilling them.
  • Drizzle olive oil on steaks.
  • Grill steaks to desired done-ness.

Butternut Squash Puree

So as to avoid any fingertip burning when dissecting the squash and sweet potatoes, the first thing I did in the meal prep was to start cooking those guys. I cooked the squash in the microwave and the sweet potatoes in the oven about 3 or so hours before dinner.

2 3ish pound butternut squash, each pierced several times with a knife

Coarse kosher salt

1 – 1.5 pounds sweet potatoes

1/4 cup butter (I know, I know, not kosher to serve dairy and meat in the same meal, but so delicious – substitute margarine for schmaltz if you want to be all kosher about it)

1/2 tsp ground allspice

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cook squash, one at a time, on high in microwave until very tender, turning once, about 25 minutes per side.
  • Cook sweet potatoes for about 30 minutes, or until quite tender.
  • Let squash and tubers cool, and then remove skins/seeds.
  • Puree in food processor, add allspice, butter, and kosher salt, and then transfer to baking dish.
  • About 30 minutes before serving, heat the puree.

THE PLATING

  • Place some puree on a plate.
  • Place an antelope steak on top and squish the puree with it.
  • Drizzle pomegranate-chile reduction sauce about the plate in an artful way; this will impress your guests.

Dessert

Toasted Coconut Souffles

Like I said, this one was a total flop (literally) – They just looked like ramekins with some stuff at the bottom. Therefore, no picture. Do NOT make these ahead of time, as Bon Appetit suggests. I think the custardy stuff would be OK to make ahead of time if you keep it at room temp, but definitely do NOT add the egg whites ahead of time. Bake immediately after you add those guys. I mean, they were still good, but they were neither light nor fluffy and that made me very sad, especially since I had my suspicions about the recipe, but since I’d never made a souffle before I figured I would follow the recipe for a change. Big mistake!

Sauce

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (about 4 ounces)

3/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail

1/2 cup sugar

  • Bring all ingredients to a boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves.
  • Reduce heat and simmer until berries are soft, about 6 minutes.
  • Pour mixture through strainer set over bowl, pressing on solids to extract liquid.
  • Bon Appetit recommends discarding the solids. I recommend saving them and putting them on your oatmeal in the morning 🙂

Souffles

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk

5 Tbsp sugar, divided, ;lus additional for sprinkling

1 1/2 tsp white rum

3/4 tsp coconut extract

Pinch of salt

5 large egg whites, room temperature

1/3 cup coconut flakes (Bon Appetit suggests using sweetened, but I used unsweetened because I don’t like stuff to be very sweet, and it was delicious), lightly toasted, cooled, and crushed into small flakes

  • Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add flour; whisk until bubbly but not brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Gradually add the coconut milk and whisk until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in 2.5 Tbsp sugar, rum, extract, and salt.
  • Transfer to large bowl.
  • Place plastic wrap directly onto surface of mixture and bring to room temp.
  • PREHEAT OVEN TO 375
  • Butter 8 3/4-cup ramekins and coat with sugar.
  • Place cups on rimmed baking sheet.
  • Using electric mixer, beat egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form.
  • Add 1/4 of whites to coconut base and whisk until lightened.
  • Add remaining whites in 2 additions and fold in with rubber spatula.
  • Fold in toasted coconut.
  • Divide mixture among prepared cups; smooth tops.
  • BAKE IMMEDIATELY!!!!
  • Bake souffles until they are puffed and beginning to brown (about 18 minutes).
  • Serve in ramekins with sauce drizzled over the top.
Erica.r.Cipriani@gmail.com
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