Friday, July 13, 2012

Chef's Tasting

Here are new photos from a recent tasting.

Shrimp and Mango Seviche; Shrimp and Mango Skewer
Shrimp and Mango. We're planning to do shrimp and mango seviche for a big crowd next week, so this was a test run to get the flavorings down. Served with a shrimp and mango skewer sitting on a bit of mango vinaigrette.

Grilled Opah, Okinawa Sweet Potato, Curry Sauce
Opah. This is opah grilled to about medium sitting on a piece of broccoli and some Okinawa sweet potatoes that we cooked in coconut milk. The now-purple coconut milk was fortified with red curry paste, fish sauce, and lime juice. Topped with a little grilled pineapple salsa.

Lumaconi Stuffed with Pulled Rabbit
Rabbit. The local rabbits are really rolling in now forcing us to get creative in finding ways to serve them. Here we braised them and pulled them off the bones, then created a sauce by reducing the braising liquid and finishing with a little cream and Dijon mustard. The meat and the sauce were combined with sautéed local carrots, leeks, and brussels sprouts, chilled, and stuffed into lumaconi (large snails). We topped the pasta with a touch of béchamel and browned that, then spooned over fresh local peas just barely warmed in butter.

Hummus, Lamb Chops, Phyllo, Olives, Preserved Lemons, Fresh Chickpeas
Hummus with Garnishes. This started as a way to showcase the fresh green chickpeas that a local farmer grows for us. In the center of the plate you see some hummus that we flavored with chile, garlic, and lemon. Sticking out of this is a phyllo crisp that has salt and ras el hanout (a North African spice mix) between the layers. The lamb chops are local and marinated with garlic, more ras el hanout, and ground sumac. Other garnishes are the aforementioned green chickpeas, winy Niçoise olives, and some of our house-cured preserved lemons. Over all is sprinkled a chiffonade of mint from the flowerbed out in front of the restaurant.

Panna Cotta with Black Berries and Anise Hyssop
Panna Cotta. Down on the plate you see a ribbon of three flavors of panna cotta: blackberry, apricot, and blueberry, three of the most abundant fruits right now. The plate is garnished with a little quick blueberry jam, apricot coulis, oat and sunflower seed granola, crème anglaise, honey-lime blackberries, and anise hyssop.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Alien Ingredient #35: Wax Apple

So here's an interesting tropical fruit that I stumbled on yesterday. It's called the wax apple in the store where I bought it. Officially known as Syzygium samarangense, it hails from Thailand to India and Malaysia to the Philippines.

It's a small fruit (refer to the cherry tomato in the photo) that is firm and has a smooth skin like a pear but with a waxier texture and a dimpled end just like a chayote. Biting into the fruit, the first thing that comes to mind is a pear or a watermelon because the fruit is dripping with juice.

I found the fruit to have a sweet flavor at first, dissipating in the middle, and then finishing with a slight piny afternote that I think comes from the skin. The flesh is fairly pithy and nearly flavorless. I wound up sucking all the juice out of the fruit and spitting out what little flesh there was.

Vote: they're a fun fruit in the summer, but their uses are pretty limited.