Showing posts with label the modern vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the modern vegetarian. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Espresso and Chocolate-Hazelnut Swirl Ice Cream with Coffee Tuiles

I was torn between two ice cream flavors. So, rather than choose one over the other, of course, I went with both by combining them. I’d been inspired by the collection of coffee desserts in The Modern Vegetarian. I had my eye on the Cafe Latte Ice Cream and Coffee Tuiles. In the book, this is shown with long, pointy shards of espresso-flavored tuiles jutting up from the top of a scoop of ice cream. It’s dramatic and delicious-looking and was something I had to try. But, there was another ice cream on my mind as well. A Chocolate-Hazelnut Swirl number from the LA Times had taken up residence in my food thoughts, and it couldn’t be ignored. I decided: why not add the chocolate-hazelnut spread to an espresso ice cream rather than to vanilla? And, that’s how this flavor combination was born. When your ice cream is almost finished churning, you just spoon in some Nutella or homemade gianduia. It swirls its way through the ice cream and turns into cold, fudgy bites here and there. While the ice cream firms up in the freezer, the tuiles are easy to make since the batter is baked in one, big thin piece and then broken after it cools. 

To start the ice cream, I actually didn’t follow the exact recipe in The Modern Vegetarian. I have a favorite vanilla gelato that I always make that has more milk than cream and is a little lighter. I followed the usual procedure for making that vanilla base, but I steeped some instant espresso granules in the milk as it heated before straining it and proceeding with tempering eggs and making the custard. I used two tablespoons of instant espresso, but you could also use a quarter cup of roasted coffee beans. I let the milk sit and steep for 20 minutes or so, but with whole beans, you’ll want to give it an hour. While the custard chilled before churning, I made homemade gianduia with roasted hazelnuts, semi-sweet chocolate, cream, and butter. When the ice cream was churned, I added about three-quarters cup of the chocolate-hazelnut spread just before it was finished. The ice cream went into the freezer for a few hours before serving. The coffee tuiles were made from an easy batter started with three tablespoons of melted butter and two teaspoons of instant espresso granules. That was stirred until the espresso dissolved. Four and a half tablespoons of flour and a quarter cup plus one tablespoon of confectioners’ sugar were sifted together, and an egg white and the melted butter mixture were stirred into the flour with a wooden spoon. The batter should be beaten with the spoon until it forms a smooth paste. The batter was chilled in the refrigerator for ten minutes or so, and then it was spread very thinly on a silpat-lined baking sheet. It was baked at 350 degrees F for ten minutes. Check it after five minutes to see if it's set and browning at the edges yet. The baking time will depend on how thinly the batter was spread. Once cool, the big, thin cookie can be broken into shards. 

Those crunchy, coffee tuiles work perfectly as ice cream delivery devices. No spoons or gelato shovels are required when those are on hand. And, coffee and chocolate-hazelnut belong together. Why settle for one or the other when you can have both? My lack of decision-making skill worked to my advantage this time. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Carrot Pancakes with Hummus and Feta Salad

I keep a pretty close watch on new cookbooks that are published, but once in a while something slips by me. The hard cover version of The Modern Vegetarian by Maria Elia came out in 2009, and I didn’t realize what I was missing until the new paperback just appeared late last year. I received a review copy, and started making up for lost time. The book is full of pretty dishes with great flavors that are fun to serve. The Dukkah-Rolled Soft-Boiled Eggs with Chickpea puree served on crostini would be a showstopper at a party. The Chile and Rosemary Eggplant Parcels are stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and nestled into a mash that mixes more eggplant with potatoes. Elia makes suggestions throughout the book for substituting various vegetables and herbs depending on the season. I couldn’t wait to try the Capri Lemon Pasta with mascarpone and parmesan cream sauce, but rather than using peas, fava beans, and asparagus, I made it with spinach. It was delightful. There’s also a chapter full of sweets with stunning things to make like Stuffed Fig Pastries with Honey and Nuts and Cafe Latte Ice Cream with shards of Coffee Tuilles. Before I get too distracted by the desserts, I need to tell you about these Carrot Pancakes. The spicy, little cakes are made with chickpea flour and grated carrots and are topped with a carrot hummus and a fresh tangle of sprouts with sliced almonds, orange chunks, and feta. 

This is the kind of dish that can easily be done in stages. The carrot hummus can be made a day or two in advance, and the pancakes can be mixed and formed and refrigerated until you’re ready to cook them. The feta salad is optional if you’d rather just serve the pancakes with the humus, or you could even sprinkle the hummus with crumbled feta by itself rather than make the salad. I started by making the hummus. I chopped some carrots into small pieces and boiled them until tender. The carrot pieces were drained and added to the blender with olive oil, rinsed and drained canned chickpeas, some chopped garlic, lemon juice, tahini, ground cumin, and salt and pepper. The mixture was blended until smooth, and I added just a bit of water for a softer consistency. With the hummus done, I moved on to the pancakes. Grated carrots were mixed with finely chopped onion, green chile, and I used one red chile as well, crushed cumin and fennel seeds, ground coriander, chopped cilantro, baking powder, chickpea flour, semolina, salt, and some water. Olive oil was heated in a skillet, and the thick batter was spooned into it in little cakes which cooked for a few minutes on each side. The recipe is written for making four to six cakes, but I made smaller cakes. For the salad, a dressing was whisked together with sherry vinegar, water, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon, and minced garlic. A mix of watercress, shiso, and sprouts is suggested, but I used pea shoots, onion sprouts, and cilantro leaves. Those were tossed together with chopped, segmented orange slices, sliced almonds, and crumbled feta. The dressing was added, and the salad crowned the dollop of hummus on each carrot pancake. 

There was a lot to like about this from the crispy, little pancakes to the pretty color of the hummus with carrots and the mix of added flavor from the salad on top. I would have enjoyed each of the three parts separately, but all together, they made a special dish. With so many interesting flavor combinations and ways to adapt the recipes for what’s in season, I’ll be reaching for this book often. 

Carrot Pancakes with Hummus and Feta Salad 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from The Modern Vegetarian.

This recipe is perfect as a light lunch, snack or starter. It also makes great party canap├ęs, as it can be prepared in advance. The salad is entirely optional. 

serves 4–6 

For the pancakes 
1 1/2 cups / 150g carrots, grated 
1 small onion, finely chopped 
2 green chillies, seeded and finely chopped 
2 teaspoons cumin seeds 
1 teaspoon fennel seeds 
2 teaspoons ground coriander 
2 tablespoons chopped coriander 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 cup / 100g chickpea flour (or besan or gram flour) 
1/4 cup / 50g semolina 
2 teaspoons salt 
2/3 - 3/4 cup / 150–200ml water 
3 tablespoons olive oil, for frying 

For the hummus 
6 large / 400g carrots, peeled 
4 tablespoons olive oil 
pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
1 1/4 cups / 200g chickpeas, cooked (canned will do) 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
juice of half a lemon 
2 tablespoons tahini 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 

For the salad 
a bunch of watercress, thick stems removed 
1 orange, peel and pith removed, cut into segments 
1 bunch shiso (or any micro) sprouts 
1 bunch coriander sprouts (or coriander leaf) 
12 mint leaves, torn 
1 1/2 cups / 50g alfalfa sprouts 
1/4 cup / 25g sliced almonds, toasted 
pinch of ground cinnamon 
1/3 cup / 50g feta cheese, crumbled 

For the dressing 
5 teaspoons / 25ml sherry vinegar 
5 teaspoons / 25ml water 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
pinch of sugar 
1 garlic clove, crushed 

 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. To make the pancakes, mix all the ingredients, except the olive oil, together to form a thick batter. Heat the oil in a small non-stick frying pan until hot, then spoon in about a quarter of the batter and fry until golden on both sides. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make 4–6 pancakes in total. Leave to drain on a wire rack, and then keep warm in the oven. 

Cut the carrots into thin slices, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting tin, add 200ml water and roast for 20–30 minutes until softened. While still hot, put them in a blender with the remaining ingredients and whizz to a smooth puree, adding a little water if too thick. Season again if necessary and refrigerate until needed. If you prefer, you can boil the carrots instead; just cook until tender and follow the recipe as above. 

To make the salad, mix all of the salad ingredients and toss together well. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and season to taste. To assemble the dish, reheat the pancakes in a warm oven, place on individual plates and top with the carrot hummus. Dress the salad with the sherry dressing and place on top of the hummus. 

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