Paper Chef #15: Mighty Aphrodite
I wanted to spend the weekend making cheese sandwiches. Trouble is, every time Chopper sees the ingredient list for Paper Chef, his eyes light up like a puppy in a butcher shop. And this time? Beets, lime, pears, and aphrodisiacs, and us a couple blogging together? Ahem. How could we resist?
So, we hit the books. Or rather, the Google, and discovered all sorts of nifty lists and references to dozens of aphrodisiac foods, from the obvious (caviar) to the unexpected (coriander).
Now, I have a personal favorite aphrodisiac. It’s a combination of dark chocolate and Barry White. Gets me every time. But Chopper had other plans (or maybe he’s saving the dark chocolate and Barry White for later). See, he’d recently received a $25 gift certificate to our local grocery, and now he’d found the perfect excuse for some sensuous splurging.
So, to completely knock us out of contention for Paper Chef’s Super Saver category, we picked up three lusty participants for our lusty trio:
Caviar (Okay, black lumpfish roe, close enough for our purposes. Ah, mystical fish eggs, symbol of fertility…)
Truffles (They’re musky. Need we say more?)
Snails (I’m told it has something to do with their shape. What? It’s suggestive?)
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat oysters?
Antoninus: When I have them, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you eat snails?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Do you consider the eating of oysters to be moral and the eating of snails to be immoral?
Antoninus: No, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: Of course not. It is all a matter of taste, isn’t it?
Antoninus: Yes, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: And taste is not the same as appetite, and therefore not a question of morals.
Antoninus: It could be argued so, master.
Marcus Licinius Crassus: My robe, Antoninus. My taste includes both snails and oysters.
– Sparticus, 1960, Lawrence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassius; Tony Curtis as Antonius
Ahem. So, where was I?
Oh, yes, we weren’t done yet. Chopper had other ingredients in mind for our Lusty Trio, and surprisingly, we found that several of them were also included on various lists of aphrodisiacs. Here are six more:
Vanilla (Its powerful scent evokes strong and sensuous emotions.)
White wine (In moderation, of course, or the hot date ends badly.)
Wasabi (Nature’s Cialis, rumor has it.)
Red chiles (Hot, hot, hot.)
Coriander (According to The Arabian Nights, a coriander concoction once saved a merchant from 40 years of infertility!)
Agave nectar (Not fermented agave, like tequila or pulque, but still…)
In Aztec times, pulque was the highly esteemed drink of the elders, priests and warriors, a nectar that according to myth oozed from the 400 breasts of the goddess Mayahuel.
–source: Sign on San Diego
Okay, I think that should do it for aphrodisiacs. Time for some recipes.
Snails in beet cups with truffle butter
- 1 very large red beet
- Snails, as needed
- Compound butter (see below), as needed
- Red chiles
- 2 tsp coriander seed
For compound butter
- 1/4 lb European style butter
- 1 tablespoon red bosc pear, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- Zest of 1 baby lime, minced
- 1 small black truffle, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
Take two tsp of butter and melt in a small sauté pan over low heat.
Add remaining ingredients and sweat over low heat for five minutes or until aroma is pungent. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Season to taste with salt.
When ingredients in pan are cool and remaining butter is soft, fold both together until thoroughly combined and roll into a log with parchment paper.
Fill a small pot with water, and add enough salt to make it taste briny. Then add a small handful of red chiles, and 2 teaspoons of coriander seed, and bring to a boil. Add the beet, skin on, to the boiling water and allow to come back to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
Cook the beet until it is tender but not mushy, about 30-45 minutes. Remove it from the boil and place in a bath of ice water until its cool enough to handle. Then peel the skin off by hand and cut into thick slices.
Cut rounds out of the slices with whatever tool you can find; a biscuit cutter, ring mold, etc. With a Parisian scoop (a.k.a melonballer) hollow out the rounds, making them into little cups.
Place a shelled snail into each cup and add a thin (1/8 inch) slice of the compound butter on top.
Place all the prepared cups onto a sheet pan lined with parchment, and roast in a 350 F oven for 10 minutes.
Serve hot. Olympic Rings configuration optional.
Salmon and beet mousse barquettes
For candied lime zest
- Zest of 2 baby limes
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Combine water and sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil. When the mixture begins to get “frothy” add the zest strips.
Cook for 5 minutes, then strain. Place zest on a silpat, or parchment and into a 150 F oven and allow to dry.
For the mousse
- 4 ounces smoked salmon
- 2 ounces cooked red beet
- 4 tablespoons tofutti cream cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
- 5 large sprigs of fresh dill
Place all ingredients into a food processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt.
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 bosc pear, peeled, cored, and pureed
- 1/4 cup water
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir together thoroughly.
Add butter and shortening, and “cut” into the dry ingredients with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs.
Add the pureed pear and fold into the mixture, then add water as needed to bring the dough together.
Mold dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
When dough is properly chilled, roll portions into thin (1/8 inch) sheets and place in barquette molds, trimming away excess. Dock (poke holes in the bottom) as needed to keep the dough flat as it cooks.
Place molds in a 350 F oven until golden brown. Then remove and allow to cool.
Pipe finished mousse into cooled barquettes in whatever style you like. Garnish with a small dab of caviar (or in this case; black lumpfish roe) and candied lime zest.
Poached pears with agave caramel sauce
- 2 Bosc pears
- 4 cups sweet white wine
- 1/2 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup agave nectar
- 2 vanilla beans
- Beet powder for garnish
Combine wine and lime juice in a two quart saucepan over low heat.
Split and scrape vanilla beans and add both the seeds and the hulls to the liquid.
When the liquid reached between 160 and 180 F peel the pears, leaving them whole, and place in the poaching liquid.
Cover the pan, and poach the pears for at least two hours, three would be better.
When pears are cooked through, remove from the liquid.
Ladle off 2/3 of a cup of the poaching liquid and add to another pan over medium-high heat.
Add the agave nectar and bring to a boil. Reduce until the mixture is thick, dark, and caramelized.
Make six cuts along the length of the pear, being careful not to cut through the stem end. Push down onto a plate, giving a slight twist, allowing the pear to “fan out.” Spoon the sauce over top, and garnish with a vanilla bean hull, and a sprinkling of beet powder.
Now, I should note that I neglected to include smoked salmon on my list of nine (nine!) aphrodisiacs, above, but whether documented or not, as far as I’m concerned, in my book the combo of smoked salmon and Peter Gabriel is right up there next to dark chocolate and Barry White. (Follow all that up with a glass of port and Alan Rickman, and I’m done.)
Oh, I could go on, but never mind that. Our Lusty Trio turned out quite delicious and so rich that just the smallest helping did me in for the evening. In fact, the both of us have been in recovery for three days, so it’s a wonder we’ve gotten any blogging done at all!
Tagged with: Paper Chef