Cupid’s Bite – Aphrodisiac eatings
This coming Tuesday is Valentine's Day. I will be conducting a cooking demo for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy with the MLCC. For this occasion, I am presenting foods that are considered aphrodisiacs. This list includes, but is by no means exclusive to, apricots, basil, garlic, asparagus, chocolate. Try also gingseng, oysters, ginger, halibut, pumpkin seeds, etc.
Pairings will be posted after the event.
1. Stuffed apricots - Cevizli Kayisi Tatlisi
20 dried apricots
scant ½ cup sugar
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
400g (1lb) mascarpone
Cut into the apricots and place in a bowl of warm water with the sugar; soak for 15 minutes. Then transfer the apricots with the soaking water in a pot and cook for about 10 minutes.
To make the cream, mix the confectioner’s sugar and mascarpone in a bowl until smooth.
Spoon the cream into a forcing bag and fill the drained apricots. Arrange on a serving dish. Garnish with walnuts, mint and/or pistachio.
2. Basil Pesto – Pasta il Pesto
A basic Pesto recipe is so easy to adapt to many available herbs. I love Arugula Pesto as well. For Arugula, use some spinach in the mix to round out the flavour of any particularly peppery variety as well as a splash of lemon juice. For Basil Pesto, I like to use Sweet, Vietnamese, Purple, and many other varieties in the mix to make a complex flavour.
1/4 lb fresh basil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (can use almonds)
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/3 cup good olive oil
salt and pepper (cheese is salty so use very little salt)
Blend together into a paste. Freeze for later use or toss in pasta, on grilled meats, etc.
3. Sautéed Asparagus with Blood Orange
Wash and trim asparagus and sauté in butter and olive oil. Squeeze in the juice of blood orange and top with zest and a sprinkle of sea salt.
4. Chocolate Creams
6-7 oz dark Callebaut Chocolate
2 cups milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Melt chocolate in a bain-marie (stainless steel bowl over pot of boiling water) with 1 tbs. Milk. Make the quantity of milk up to 2 cups and bring high heat. Beat 6 egg yolks with sugar until the mixture turns white. Slowly add the chocolate flavoured milk, beating it in quickly. Divide the mixture between at least 6 ramekins placed in a baking dish that will be filled with simmering water (another bain-marie). Bake at 375º F for about 25 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the bain-marie and leave to cool before putting them in the refrigerator to set.
Pavlova (optional to serve with creams)
4 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180ºF.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Draw a 9-inch circle on the
paper, using a 9-inch plate as a guide, then turn the paper over so the circle is on
the reverse side. (This way you won't get a pencil mark on the meringue.)
Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk
attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until firm, about 1 minute. With
the mixer still on high, slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny
peaks, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, sift the cornstarch onto the beaten egg whites,
add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in lightly with a rubber spatula. Pile the
meringue into the middle of the circle on the parchment paper and smooth it
within the circle, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven,
keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven,
about 1 hour. It will be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside.
Invert the meringue disk onto a plate and spread the top completely with
sweetened whipped cream.