mardi 16 mars 2010

Dinner “Green” Chez Camille (me)

Second up in the cooking rounds (see post below), and assigned to the color green, I prepared the following menu :

Aperitifs of Get 27 (an intensely green mint-flavored liquor)
Swiss chard chips
Green olives

Wine wine with frozen green grapes as ice cubes
Avocado salmon salad with chives

Pan-seared scallops with lime zested bread crumbs
Asparagus with a cilantro lime butter
Mashed potatoes and green peas

Macarons menthe-chocolat
Cheese plate with green grapes and pears

For the decor, I bought some green wrapping paper to spread on the table as a table cloth, and set the table with clean white plates, green napkins, and clear glasses.

Was it a success? I would say possibly. . . but only the sealed envelope holding the marks knows for sure!

My own recommendations: the swiss chard chips were easy, excellent, and strikingly unusual. The avocado salad was also very easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. The mashed potatoes with peas were very good; I like the balance of half vegetable-half potato in the puree to reduce the heaviness of eating a pile of potatoes. And finally, macarons tasted pretty darn good even though they had collapsed a little by the time I served them (I had made them the night before). If you don’t know what macarons are, you should. They’re a sort of sandwich cookie, but much fancier than that description, made with egg whites, powdered sugar, almond powder and a creamy filling. They come in every flavor imaginable, including licorice (my favorite).

I messed up the scallops because they were ready before the potatoes and so by the time I served the plate, the scallops and bread crumbs had gone cold. Timing is everything! Always make scallops immediately before serving.

Swiss Chard chips

Bunch of swiss chard leaves
A couple tablespoons of olive oil
Sesame seeds

1. Trim the leaves off of the swiss chard, cutting away the firm white stalk. Cut the leaves into chip-sized pieces.
2. Brush both sides of the leaves with olive oil. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Salt and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
3. Bake at 350 F for 7-8 minutes, or until crispy.
4. If you must store the chips, don’t cover them or they will become limp.

Avocado Salmon salad with chives

Serves 5

3 ripe avocadoes
smoked salmon
2 lemons
handful of chopped chives, plus a few sprigs for garnish
baby spinach, or any leafy lettuce greens
salt, pepper
Tbsp olive oil

1. One hour before serving, marinate the salmon with the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and chives.
2. As soon as possible before serving, slice the avocadoes and cover with the juice of ½ lemon. If you must wait before serving, cover the avocadoes tightly with plastic wrap.
3. At the bottom of a transparent cup or bowl (one for each person), put down a bed of the lettuce leaves, then a layer of avocado, then a layer of salmon, then a second layer of avocado. Mix the juice of the remaining ½ lemon with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spoon a bit over the top of each serving. Garnish with chives.

Mashed potatoes and green peas

Potatoes, washed, unpeeled and cubed
Frozen green peas
Salt, pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1. Boil the potatoes until completely tender and easily mashable by hand. Add the peas to the boiling water a couple minutes before the potatoes are done. The ratio of peas to potatoes should be about ½ and ½ .
2. Add butter and milk until texture is creamy and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper and stir in parmesan cheese, reserving some flakes for garnish.

Mint chocolate macarons

Recipe courtesy of Savour-Fare

3 egg whites, left out for 2-3 days (egg whites don’t spoil the way the yolks do) or “aged” in the microwave for 10-15 seconds (ideally, egg whites should be almost liquid).
30 g granulated sugar
200 g powdered sugar
110 g almond flour
2 Tbsp menthe liquor
green food coloring, if you have it (I didn’t)

1. In the standing mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar, and beat until meringue is stiff. REALLY stiff.
2. With a rubber spatula, fold in 1/3 of the almond sugar mixture, using quick, firm, strokes. You want to break up the meringue in this step — don’t be too gentle! Add remaining almond mixture, 1/3 at a time, and use gentle strokes to fold it until all almonds are incorporated, no lumps of meringue remain, and the mixture is the texture of chilled honey — when you drop a teaspoonful of the mixture on top of the rest of the batter, it should take 30-60 seconds to disappear and be reincorporated. Stir in the menthe liquor and green food coloring.
3. Using a pastry bag or a ziploc with the corner cut off, pipe the meringues into 1 inch circles on parchment paper. Remember, you want some consistency so you can match them up in sandwiches.
4. Let air dry for 45-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then turn off the oven, open the door, and let the macarons cool on the cookie sheets (this helps them release). Sprinkle on chocolate shavings when they are almost cool.
5. When the macarons are completely cool, sandwich them with the chocolate ganache spread in the middle. Handle carefully!

Chocolate mint ganache filling

1 bar dark chocolate (70%)
¼ cup cream
fresh mint, chopped
1 Tbsp mint liquor

1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Stir in the cream, mint, and mint liquor.
2. Wait to cool before filling macarons.

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