Did I mention this is beautiful food? The Inverted Cherry Tomato Tart with Black Olive, Basil is a perfect rectangle of crisp tuile made with black olives that sits on tomato mousse with peeled cherry tomatoes under that which sit on a layer of basil pesto. In the description of how the dish came about, other similar tarts are mentioned all inverted with a piece of tuile on top. I want to try them all or make up some of my own. The Crayfish and Spring Vegetable Stew with Spicy Crayfish Jelly isn’t made as a stew at all. All the components are prepared separately to keep the flavors “cleaner, brighter, and more energetic.” It’s artfully arranged with peas, fava beans, artichoke hearts, fennel, crayfish tails, and fava flowers. The dish New Olive Oil, Brassica, Charred Onion Broth is all about capitalizing on the flavor of just-pressed olive oil which is used in a puree of potatoes and dandelion greens, and the smoky, charred onion broth, used as a sauce here, is something I can’t wait to try. The dish I had to experiment with first, though, was the Quinoa, Almond, Cauliflower, Popped Sorghum. I don’t hide the fact that I have a serious popcorn problem. I love it and can never get enough. I knew that popping amaranth seeds is possible. I’ve tried it. The seeds are tiny, and they do pop but don’t amount to much. What I didn’t know is that you can pop sorghum kernels. I had never heard of this amazing fact before reading this book. I immediately got my hands on some whole grain sorghum and popped it. It’s delightfully small, but otherwise looks just like popcorn. The flavor is similar but different and maybe less buttery than popcorn. The rest of the dish is just as simple as popping sorghum. Quinoa was cooked, and red and white quinoa is suggested. I always have a blend of red, black, and white quinoa which I used. If using separate red and white quinoa, it would be fine to simplify by cooking them together rather than separately as directed. Next, cauliflower was roasted, and I used a pretty, locally-grown, green cauliflower. After roasting, the cauliflower was simmered on top of the stove until completely tender and then pureed with a little milk. I left the puree a little thicker than suggested and didn’t use a siphon for serving. A quick salad was made with the cooked and cooled quinoa, toasted almonds, some thinly sliced, raw cauliflower florets, and snipped chives. Just a touch of rice vinegar was added for seasoning along with some olive oil. To serve, the cauliflower puree was layered on the bottom covered by quinoa salad with popped sorghum on top.
The almonds and minced chives were additions to this dish after it had been tried on the menu without them. It was perfect with the crunchy, toasted nuts and mild onion flavor of chives. It goes without saying that I enjoyed the popped sorghum element as well. I look forward to several more discoveries as I try more things from this lovely book.
Quinoa, almond, cauliflower, and popped sorghum
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Coi: Stories and Recipes.
Yields 4, with extra cauliflower puree
- 1 x 250-g cauliflower
- 25 g pure olive oil
- 100 g water
- milk, as necessary
- 50 g vegetable oil
- 100 g sorghum
- 20 g white quinoa
- 20 g red quinoa
- 25 g toasted almonds
- 1 small spoonful snipped chive
- rice wine vinegar
- fruity olive oil
- popped sorghum
Cut small florets out of a head of cauliflower – they should be spoon-size when shaved. Cut the rest of the cauliflower into medium-size pieces and toss with the olive oil and salt. Put into a pan and roast in the oven at 400°F (200°C) until tender, stirring occasionally so they are lightly browned and barely tender. Pull out of the oven and onto the stove top, and add the water. Simmer until the water is absorbed and the cauliflower has collapsed. Blend until smooth, thinning with milk as necessary, and adjust seasoning with salt. The texture should be smooth and luscious, thick but just pourable. Pour into a siphon and charge twice. Keep warm. (This makes a terrific puree even without the siphon, it’s just a little more dense.)
Cook white and red quinoa in separate pots of salted water, and simmer until tender. Start with 5 parts water and 1 part quinoa, and keep the simmer brisk and below a boil. Cook until the little white string-looking thing appears around the ball of the grain, and the texture is just tender. The texture of the quinoa is crucial – the grains should be cooked but perceptibly individual. Strain, rinse under cold water and drain.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan until almost smoking. Add a thin later of sorghum and cover. Shake the pan occasionally, keeping the heat a little higher than you would with corn. When the popping sound diminishes considerably, empty the sorghum into a colander with holes just smaller than the size of the popped sorghum, and shake the colander to get rid of any broken or unpopped seeds. Season the popped sorghum with salt.
Toast almonds deeply and cut into pieces slightly smaller than the popped sorghum. To serve, make a salad of the white and red quinoa, toasted almonds, shaved raw cauliflower (use small inside florets) and snipped chive. Season with rice wine vinegar, fruity olive oil, salt and pepper. Don’t make the salad acidic – use the vinegar only to brighten up the earthy/nutty tones. Dispense a bit of the cauliflower puree in the bottom of the bowl. Cover with the salad, and top with popped sorghum.
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