Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients!
List 1: Parsnips, Eggplant (aubergine), Cauliflower
List 2: Balsamic Vinegar, Goat Cheese, Chipotle peppers
List 3: Maple Syrup, Instant Coffee, Bananas
The challenge was to pick one ingredient from each list. I’m not a Cauliflower eater so that was ruled out. I’ve never had chipotle peppers before, but managed to get hold of some chipotle paste – it’s true – it does have a chocolatety taste! Pretty fiery stuff also. Bought a bottle of Maple syrup for this months challenge – delicious! I have included the recipe suggested by the hosts, but ashamedly I didn’t try any of them. Well, I attempted the chipotle bbq sauce.. My recipes were:
Chicken Basque with mayple syrup, chipotle, and parsnip crisps.
Coffee hot cross buns with parsnip crosses, filled with goats cheese & banana. This strangely worked!
Steamed parsnips with chipotle bbq sauce.
Slow-Grilled Chicken and Parsnips with Chipotle Barbeque Sauce
Last winter, I developed a fascination for parsnips – they have such a unique flavor, and they’re very sweet when cooked properly. For this recipe, I wanted some way to balance out the sweetness of the parsnips, so I opted for a spicy chipotle barbeque sauce. Of course, I had to use a third ingredient, and I thought that maple syrup would make a nice addition. This recipe has a very smoky-sweet-spicy flavor to it, and paired with the slow-grilled chicken is just delicious.
2-3 Chipotle peppers
1 Serrano pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml) soy sauce
1/3 cup (80 ml) red wine vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
1 cup (240 ml) water
1 pound (½ kg) parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) paprika
Salt and black pepper to taste
Remove the seeds from the peppers, and finely chop.
In a small saucepan over high heat, add peppers, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 45 minutes.
Sprinkle the chicken thighs with paprika.
Grill the thighs in a grill pan or barbeque over medium heat until cooked through, about 40-50 minutes, turning occasionally. Mark Bittman recommends cooking chicken thighs to 160°F/71°C; the USDA recommends 165°F/74°C.
When the thighs have about 20 minutes left, add the parsnips to the grill pan, along with the salt and pepper. As the parsnips cook, they will soften and increase in flavor – if you let them cook too long, however, they will become mushy, so if necessary, remove and cover the parsnips while the chicken finishes.
Spoon the barbeque sauce over the chicken and parsnips and serve.
Coffee-Marinated Flank Steak with Balsamic-Cauliflower Purée
I’ve heard of cauliflower purée before, but never had it. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of cauliflower, but it does taste better roasted, so I decided for this recipe it would be good to roast the cauliflower and then pair it with some other strong ingredient to mask the flavors that I don’t like. Balsamic vinegar seemed like a good option (though we also tried the goat cheese, which made a very nice – but totally different! – experience). Then it was just a simple matter of figuring out a good flavor to balance the sauce, and I finally settled on a coffee marinade for a flank steak. This was probably my favorite of the three meals here, it has a wonderful flavor and looks super fancy! It’s also pretty easy to make.
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil, plus extra for drizzling on cauliflower (An alternate non-flavored or mild-flavored oil could be substituted here)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 gm) instant coffee
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1 gm) chili powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (8 gm) freshly-ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) (1 gm) cinnamon
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound (½ kg) flank steak
4-6 cauliflower florets
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk, plus more if necessary
2 tablespoons (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Mix the olive oil, coffee, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper in a gallon (4 litre) ziplock bag; add the flank steak, and make sure it is well-coated. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
Drizzle the cauliflower florets with oil, salt, and pepper, and roast in a preheated moderately hot oven 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6 until lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven.
Remove the flank steak from the ziplock bag, discarding any excess marinade. In an oven-proof skillet over high heat, sear both sides of the steak (approximately 3 minutes/side). Then cook in an oven at 375°F/190°C/gas mark 5 for 15-20 minutes until done (rare steak is 145-150°F/63-66°C, well-done is about 170°F/77°C).
While the steak is cooking, in a blender or food processor combine the roasted cauliflower, balsamic vinegar, milk, salt, and pepper. Purée until smooth, adding extra milk if necessary.
When the steak has finished cooking, carve into thin slices, and serve with the cauliflower puree drizzled over the top.
Banana “Polenta” with Eggplant, Mushrooms, and Goat Cheese
My idea with this was to mimic a polenta patty with mashed bananas. The final meal was a nice balance of sweet and spicy, and the goat cheese complimented the eggplant and mushrooms perfectly. The amount and type of peppers can be changed to suit your preference for heat, but (as someone who doesn’t really like hot food) I found that a little bit of heat served as a nice contrast to the sweet of the banana. The egg white adds some additional protein to adhere the patty together, but it is not a critical part of the recipe.
1 serrano pepper (with seeds), diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon (15 ml) ( ½ oz/15 gm) corn starch (corn flour)
1 cup (240 ml) (4 oz/110 gm) dried bread crumbs + extra if necessary
1 egg white (optional)
1 cup (240 ml) (150 gm/5 oz) cornmeal (polenta)
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 shallot (eschalot), diced
1 eggplant (aubergine), sliced
2 large Portobello mushroom heads
2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, for pan frying
1/4 cup (60 ml) (55 gm/2 oz) goat cheese
In a medium bowl, mash bananas and stir in peppers.
Add corn starch, bread crumbs, and egg white and mix. The mixture should be fairly dry and easy to shape. Some additional bread crumbs may be necessary, depending on how ripe your bananas are.
Prepare the vegetables. To do this, mix together the olive oil, garlic, and shallots. Brush the oil onto the sliced eggplant and mushrooms, then broil (grill) on each side for 5 minutes (10 minutes total), or until the vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are roasting, heat up olive oil in a frying pan. Shape the banana mixture into 3” (7½ cm) patties, coat generously with bread crumbs, and then fry for about 2 minutes on each side.
Layer the vegetables over the banana and pepper patty, then top with goat cheese.