Friday, May 22, 2009

3 layers panna cotta: honey, mango & strawberry

It's supposed to be end of spring here in Montreal, yet the weather is still extremely moody. Yesterday was crazy hot and sunny. Today was cold & cloudy most of the time.

The only good things that remain stable so far are the yummy fruits & vegetables. The vibrant colors, the ripe smells & the feel of them in your hands. I love everything about spring and summer (except for my allergies and the wasps that like to hover in my face)

So let's pretend it is hot outside, and indulge in this cold creamy & fruity goodness of panna cotta. A lot of the time it is made with cream ("panna cotta" means "cooked cream") but I went with whole milk instead. I started out with this recipe & then got carried away and made 2 other layers, lol!!!

Honey panna cotta
(recipe taken from Diary of a professional eater who got it from Giada D.L)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 packets of Knox gelatin
  • 1/2 cup honey (more or less depends on your taste)
  • a tiny pinch of salt
  • a tsp vanilla extract
In a sauce pan, mix milk & the packets of Knox, let sit for a few minutes, then put on medium low heat & stir constantly until heated through. Add honey, salt & vanilla extract, stir to blend, thwen take off heat and pour into glass. Refrigerate a few hours

Mango layer
(I didnt cook the milk, so it can't be panna cotta... but what is it then? Mango mirror?)
  • 1 Ataulfo mango, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 packet of Knox gelatin (I used only half and it wasn't set enough)
Put mango & milk in blender and work it until smooth. Sweeten it if you want but I didn't. Take about 1/4 of the mango mix, sprinkle the gelatin on top & mocrowave it for 10 seconds. Stir until everything is well blended and add the rest of the mango mix into it. Stir again.

Layer on top of set honey panna cotta. Refrigerate for an hour

Strawberry layer
  • 1 cups of washed, hulled & chunked strawberries
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 packet of gelatin
Repeat the same steps as with the mango. Then layer it on top and refrigerate a few more hours.

I had some strawberries and a bit of the white chocolate Cointreau custard left, so I made another plate of dessert. All were greatly enjoyed by my parents and their friends.

TGIF!!!! Oh and Zesty Cook is giving away a blog make-over!!!! It's such a great idea!!!! Go visit & subscribe, u get recipes sent to you EVERYDAY! :O

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rhubarb strawberry tart & coulis

For years, every spring & summer that I'd see rhubarb, I'd pick one bunch up and then put it back down after 30 seconds of ponder.

This time however, I grabbed one bunch & proceeded to the cash register without any hesitation. It is time for rhubarb & I to be introduced beyond the acquaintance fence (Ever since my discovery of Tastespotting a year ago, I've seen many beautiful posts on rhubarb and I wanted to try them out: tarts, ice cream, sorbet, panna cotta!!! Ok, ok, one thing at a time...)

When I walked home passed the neighborhood's vegan restaurant, the extremely eccentric owner/chef/yoga instructor was posing outside all decked out in his usual psychedelic outfit. As I looked and smile, he yelled at me: "What are you gonna make with the rhubarb?" and as a reflex, I yelled back: "TARTS!!!!"

That was the first time he ever yelled to me. I think it was also the last.

Anyhow, back to the tarts... When I saw this on Fresh From The Oven after a search on Tastepotting, it was all settled. Don't they look so pretty & yummy & did I say pretty? I used half the rhubarb bunch (about 4-5 stalks) and half a box of strawberries for the filling, and the other halves I used to make a coulis.

Strawberry Rhubarb tarts recipe from Fresh From The Oven
(makes 4 tarts of 4.5 inches)
  • 4 blind-baked tart shells of your choice, just slightly colored (I used a butter cookie dough that I found on Annie's Eats that I used here and here as well)
  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries (I used half a 1lbs box)
  • 2 cups of sliced rhubarbs (4-5 long stalks, 1lbs)
  • 3/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch

Heat oven to 350F.

Mix the strawberries, rhubarbs, sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Let "marinade" for 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, brush your baked tart shells with some egg wash (egg white and a bit of water)

Spoon filling into the shells, not over the top. Then drizzle with a couple of spoon of juice that gathered at the bottom of the bowl. Bake the tarts for about 35-40 minutes. Don't throw away the rest of that juice, you'll be able to use it for something later.

Strawberry rhubarb coulis

  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 2 cups of sliced rhubarbs
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp of Ice wine cider (optional)

Put everything except the Ice wine into a sauce pan over low heat. Cover and let cook for a few minutes. Turn off heat. Cool, then blend until smooth and add Ice wine. Store in the fridge or freeze in ice cube trays to keep longer.

My first try with rhubarb was quite satisfying, I would say. So there will definitely be more rhubarb things to come :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pan-fried salmon with balsamic soy reduction

My parents went to a restaurant last night and apparently the fish my mom ordered, well, smelled fishy. So today while I was at the grocery store staring down the empty lobster tank with sad puppy eyes, my mom called & asked if I could make my special salmon for supper. It was like she read my mind or something!

The salmon was meant to be... (Well... I meant to get trout since there is less fat, but the butcher had started cutting the salmon already & I didn't want to be a pain in the arse) I also picked up a box of cherry tomatoes called "Gourmet mix" that got 4 different shades of colors: red, orange, yellow and some funky green & red stripey ones. They look awesome!

Start with the balsamic soy reduction first, 'cuz it needs time to reduce itself... (Really? Did that make any sense?)

Balsamic soy reduction
  • a dash of olive oil
  • a couple cloves of garlic, chopped in chunks
  • 1 cup balsamic
  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • a few shake of herbes de provence
  • black pepper
  • a few sprinkle of sea salt (I used home-made lemon zest sea salt***)
  • a few sprinkle of sugar (I used home-made lemon zest sugar*** but you can also use any other sweet like honey or maple syrup)
Put everything in a small pot, bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to low heat and leave it alone for 30 minutes or so. Stir once in a while. At the end, feel free to adjust it to your taste of course.

While that's cooking, place the filets of salmon (in my case, three) skin side down on a big plate and sprinkle each with
  • a few shakes of garlic powder
  • a couple of shakes of herbes de provence
  • a pinch of sea salt
And let them sit for about 30 minutes.

On medium high heat, swirl a couple dashes of olive oil in a big pan to cover the surface well. Then placed the filets into the pan, skin side up, while constantly shaking the pan slightly for the first 20 seconds so the fish doesn't stick to the pan. Continue searing for another minute. Flip them over, carefully, shake again, then cover the pan & let cook for another 4, 5 minutes, depending on how pink or how cooked you want your salmon to be.

Midway into cooking, place whole tomatoes into the pan. Sprinkle some sea salt on them, cover and continue.

Serve with rice or whatever you prefer. Spoon balsamic soy reduction on top. Enjoy!!!

***homemade lemon zest sugar and salt: when I bought that load of lemon last time, the juice went into ice cube trays, and the zest, I split them and put into a jar of sugar, a jar of salt. They smell amazing!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mojito shrimp ceviche

Six Feet Under, season four, episode 50, Claire said to Billy: "Hey, do you like ceviche?" And that's all it took for me to jump out of my comfortable vegging state & head into the kitchen to make some, almost immediately.

See, my goal today was to not get out of the house at all. So I made this ceviche with jumbo frozen shrimps instead of fresh white fish. The lemon juice came from fresh lemons that I squeezed myself & froze in ice cube trays a couple of weeks ago. (It's really hard for me to resist buying a lot of lemon at 10 for $1.79!!! Once the cubes defrost, it's like you had just juiced them)

The marinade was inspired by a Ginger Mojito I had on Friday with some friends. So just like that, the final product is a combination of Six Feet Under, Friday night drinks and a fridge & freezer raid.

Mojito shrimp ceviche

(serves 4)
  • 12 jumbo shrimps (defrosted if frozen) shelled & devained.
  • 2 cups of fresh lemon juice (about 8 lemons or more, depending on the size)
  • 1 tbsp white rum
  • 1 medium-ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1 mango, cubed (I used Ataulfo because that's what I had)
  • about 20-30 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
Prepare a big bowl of ice. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt. Cook the shrimps for about 30-45 seconds, then throw them into the ice right away to stop the cooking process. Chop them into the same size as the avocado & mango cubes.

Put lemon juice, rum and everything into a big bowl. Make sure it covers all the ingredients well. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours.

When ready, serve with tortilla chips or boiled corn on the cobs.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An anything prosciutto salad

I am in for a lazy day. It's the long weekend with crappy weather, so going anywhere is not an option unless it's very important. I'm thinking of whipping up some ice cream, but I need to have my fix of vegging out first before I start doing anything.

So in order to achieve maximum vegging time, one needs to use minimum time for making lunch. Since my main course seemed to be a crusty loaf of baguette, I needed to have something to go with it.

Salad it is! An anything-I-find-in-the-fridge salad with prosciutto.

I love how prosciutto makes a salad taste better. Like bacon, but without the cooking and the visual pool of fat that collects underneath. Prosciutto is the ultimate time-saver for my day of vegging.

So what did I find in the fridge to accompany the prosciutto...
  • Salad mix
  • Avocado
  • Ataulfo mango
  • Edamame
  • Pear
One drizzle of balsamic vinegar, two grinds of black pepper. I am going back to my 4th season of Six Feet Under