Monthly Archives: June 2010

Curry Sorbet

Aquavit. Love saying it, love drinking it and love the New York restaurant. It is truly one of our favorite special occasion places. Aquavit is Scandinavian cuisine at its finest served up in a sleek, modern minimalist (and quiet) setting.  So, this past holiday season, we were delighted to receive  the Aquavit cookbook after having it on our wish list for several years.

Last month, we set out to re-create several of our favorite dishes from the restaurant and cookbook. Pickled herring to start, followed by a beet and apple salad, followed by Swedish Meatballs served with garlic mashed potatoes, lingonberry preserves and quick pickled cucumbers. But what to end with?

After perusing the book and weighing different options, we finally settled on Curry Sorbet. I love curry and all things of an ice cream nature but wasn’t so sure about this particular combination. Until I tried it.

Curry Sorbet

The end result is so unusual – light, creamy, sweet, spicy, exotic and flavorful. The curry powder and coconut milk combination is not to be missed, provides a perfect ending to a lovely Swedish meal, and is just as good on its own.

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Desserts, Frozen

Chinese Dumplings

Beijing Hutong

Last December, I was able to join M on a business trip to China. One of the highlights of our stay in Beijing, aside from the Great Wall and Forbidden City, was taking a cooking class taught in a courtyard residence in a traditional hutong.

We booked the class with hutongcuisine.com before we left and opted for the class on dumplings. There were only three students in the class and, unlike others we have attended, it was a very hands-on experience.

Chunyi Zhou

Our instructor, Chunyi Zhou, greeted us and promptly outfitted each student with an apron, cleaver, cutting board and their own set of ingredients. The way the class works is that each student prepares part of the meal in the morning. It all comes together by early afternoon and then everyone sits down for lunch and enjoys the morning’s preparation.  I have included photos in this post, and there are additional pictures in Saveur’s Beijing issue.

I was tasked with making the pork and spring onion dumplings, while M took over the beef and celery version. We gathered around a large wooden table in Zhou’s kitchen and got to work.  As we prepped the ingredients, Zhou was there to guide (and correct) us along the way. Who knew that you could only stir the meat mixture in one direction? I’m still not sure why but I listened and obeyed.

After the fillings were ready, we got to work on making the actual dumpling wrappers. We rolled our dough into an approximately 10-inch long log and then cut it into 16 pieces. We then used a special Chinese rolling pin to roll each of the pieces into a thin disk about 3.5 inches in diameter. We put a tablespoon or so of filling into each wrapper, folded the disk onto itself and then pinched to seal.

Dumpling preparation

The pinch and seal was probably the most difficult task, aside from using a cleaver to cut everything. Zhou was right there for encouragement and correction. She decided to get all fancy with the pinch and seal on her dumplings as you can see below.

Zhou's dumpling on the left, mine on the right

After class, we went straight to the Chinese supermarket to purchase one of the special rolling pins because we knew we would certainly be making these upon our return–and we have–once. And, although I could eat these dumplings every day, due to their labor intensity, they are probably best reserved for special occasions.

Note:

1. You must use a high-gluten flour to get the elasticity required for the dumpling wrappers.

2. Many of the items listed in the recipe are not available at regular grocery stores.  We picked up many of our ingredients, including the high-gluten flour, at the Chinese American Trading Company on 91 Mulberry St. in New York.

3. Making dumplings seems intimidating but it is really quite enjoyable once you get the hang of it.

4. They are really delicious!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Entrees, Meat

Orange and Poppy Seed Cake

Orange and Poppyseed CakeWe discovered these great mini silicone cake pans and I love them.  At 5″ in diameter, they make the perfect size cake for two to four people without too much left over.  The best thing is that we have three of them.  So, depending on my mood and the occasion, the creation can increase in height.

Here is a great one layer cake that I made recently that provided a perfect ending for a dinner for three, with a slice or two left for the next day, but barely.  Orange and poppy seeds play really well together in this light (at least in terms of texture) cake.  However, this cake’s best feature is definitely the fact that it is soaked in orangey syrupy deliciousness.  Moist, light and definitely worth the effort.  This is one that you will make again and again.

The recipe that I have included is for one 8 inch cake.  I halved the recipe, used the 5″ cake pan and reduced the cooking time to 45 minutes.  Enjoy!

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Cakes

Preserved Lemons

Many of our Moroccan and Mediterranean recipes require preserved lemons. We have purchased jars of them at specialty grocery stores but finally got around to making our own and have now done so on multiple occasions.  Used at first specifically for the aforementioned recipes, such as Chicken Tagine with Olives or Moroccan Lamb Stew, we have now started making up uses for them.

Preserved Lemons

The tart salty tang of the lemons lifts the flavors of just about any meat, chicken or fish dish.  Try putting them on top of and inside a roast chicken.  Put a few slices on top of trout, flounder or any other poached or baked fish.  Dice them finely and add them to a vinaigrette or toss them in with roasted vegetables.  Great in marinades.  Perfect for the grill.

They are a wonderful addition to your kitchen toolkit and, just like those magic rocks, fun to watch until ready to use.

Here is the recipe…

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Filed under Condiments