Saturday, 21 August 2010

Market Iron Chef

Here's how it works. You find a trusted friend, and send them to the farmer's market with money. They return with vegetables, herbs and a cocky "this is totally going to stump you" look on their face. You (and another friend) make dinner for 8 from the ingredients. This is how we spent our Saturday, and oh-my-goodness, was it fun!

Here are two of our creations. The chocolatey ones.

Wilted kale salad with pickled cherries.

3 bunches of black kale, destemmed and chopped
1 punnet cherries, quartered
1c balsamic vinegar
50 gr dark chocolate

juice from 1 lemon and salt, to wilt kale.

As early in the day as you can, quarter the cherries, discarding the pits, and cover them with the balsamic vinegar. Set aside on the counter to pickle. Later, massage kale with lemon juice and flaked salt until it turns bright green and wilts. Rinse lightly, so it remains a bit salty and lemony. Alternately, mix about 9/10 of the kale, and keep a small handful unrinsed, and then mix it back in to the rinsed stuff. Just before serving, drain cherries, reserving the vinegar. Mix cherries and kale together in serving dish. In a pan, reduce vinegar to about 1/3 cup. Remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until it melts. Drizzle over the salad. Serve.

Here's what we came up with for dessert.

Chocolate-berry mousse.

4 c almond-macadamia nut cream (method below)
1 whole vanilla bean
1 package agar, or enough of your favorite form of agar to set 1L of liquid
400g dark chocolate
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp flaked sea salt (vanilla sea salt preferred), or 1/2 tsp granulated salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

at least 1/2 cup mixed berries per person

700mL apple-rhubarb juice (or other juice)

To make the cream: soak nuts as long as you can (we only had a few hours). Blend 1.5 c almonds + 1 tbs lecithin (optional) in 4 c water on high speed. Strain. Rinse blender, and return the almond milk to it. Add 1 c drained soaked mac nuts + 1 whole vanilla bean to blender. Blend until smooth. Do not drain.

Transfer nut cream to a pot, sprinkle in agar, and heat on low-ish heat to a simmer. Simmer until agar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate. Now stir in the other ingredients. You want to add more pepper than you think, because the tastes will tame down as it cools. Pour mousse into a bowl and set in the fridge for a few hours. It should set super-solid and dense. Worry not. We are going to make it lighter in the next step.

Reduce juice to about 1/2 cup. Wash and dry berries

Before serving, whip mousse with a hand-held blender. This is how you get the air into it.(If you want a lighter mousse, you can also fold in vegan whipped cream at this stage, but I'm not a big fan of whipped cream, and I like my chocolate mousse pretty intense). Divide into 8-10 cups. This is super-rich. We made 8 servings from it, but we could have made 10 easily. We probably should have made 10. Top each serving with insane amounts of berries and drizzle with juice reduction (this makes everything shiny and fancy). Garnish with a giant mint leaf.

The other things we made:
clear tomato consommee with homemade crackers, tomato-balsamic vinegar reduction, and tapenade
wilted kale salad with pickled cherries
beet and cauliflower medly
potato-crusted pizza with garlic-tomato sauce, smoked tofu, pattypan squash and two pestos


SelahWrites said...

Holy guacamole Batwoman! YOU are an amazing chef!

sinead said...

Awwwww thanks. I love cooking for friends. I sublimate all my love into food.