M. Andrew Gordon

Archive for January, 2010|Monthly archive page

Dr. No Dinner Party

In Appetizers, Desserts, Main Dish, Sauces, Side Dishes on January 22, 2010 at 7:56 am

"that's a Smith & Wesson and you've had your six."

Combining two of my favorite things, dinner parties and James Bond movies, was a stroke of genius on the part of my brother.  Matching the movie’s locales with the menu might have been mine.  It’s unclear at this point.  But what was tremendously clear was how much I am looking forward to additional movie-dinners.  Starting from the beginning with Dr. No the other night, the following recipes stem from the inaugural Bond dinner party.  **Not all of the recipes are here just yet and I’ll be updating over a couple of days.  I also neglected to take any good photographs, but I backfilled with pics from the movie.  Thankfully my blog is too small for the Broccoli family to notice.

In honor of the role that alcohol always plays in the books and movies of Ian Fleming, we decided that we would need to serve vodka martinis, shaken and not stirred (although I also understand that many a mixologist also chafe at the faux pas of a cocktail without citrus being shaken).  Of interest is the first martini in the James Bond film canon, which is served sans olive and, in fact, with a slice of lime.  Wanting to be accurate, we followed suit, though we meant no disrespect to the olive.  Using Triple Eight Vodka, after some deliberation we decided on an older style proportions, using a 2:1 ratio for our martinis.

Dr. No Vodka Martini

  • 3 ounces vodka, preferably Triple Eight
  • 1 ½ ounces dry vermouth
  • 1 or 2 lime wedges
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Pour in vodka and vermouth.  Shake vigorously and strain into a martini glass.  Add lime wedges to taste.

The Jamaican setting led me to the obvious jerk-seasoned dish.  Of course, I knew I wouldn’t be able to go whole hog and actually smoke anything over pimento wood but otherwise I’d puree the hell out of a bunch of scotch bonnet chiles and a pile of ginger and marinade some chicken in it.  But jerk seasoning might be nice if it was offset by something a little cool, maybe something with a little substance.  The starchy plantain might be just the ticket, I thought.  I cooked a couple of ripe plantains up and when they were getting nice and soft and golden, I poured a sweet molasses and lime mixture over them and let the sauce cook into a glaze.

Molasses-glazed Plantains

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 plantains, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In large skillet over medium heat, combine olive oil and butter.  Add plantains and toss to coat, letting cook until plantains start to turn golden.
  2. Meanwhile, in saucepan over low heat, combine molasses, lime juice, honey, brown sugar, and chile powder.  Stir to incorporate.
  3. Add molasses mixture to plantains and stir to coat plantains.  Cook for additional several minutes.

I decided I also wanted to revisit something I had tried once long ago: a pickled mango tartar sauce.  And because the the titular villain of the movie resides on the island of Crab Key, it seemed only fitting to make crab cakes.  My usual crab cakes have a solid dose of both scallions and red onion and the bread crumb filling of cornbread.  And not that sickly sweet cornbread cake nonsense, but a decently non-sweet and non-sticky cornbread (and as I’ve said in the past, there is nothing wrong with and nothing shameful about using Jiffy cornbread).  When making crabcakes, you want to take care to not shred any big chunks of crab but when you actually construct the crab cakes, I find that applying some firm pressure to the sides of the cake while patting the down builds a nice cake that won’t fall apart in the pan.  The tartar sauce was a fantastic accompaniment, although it does require that you plan a day or two in advance to pickle the mango.  But the pickled mango itself makes for a nice little side dish as well.

I wish these sunglasses had a reoccuring role in the Bond movies.

Pickled Mango

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 10 juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1 serrano chile, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 mango, peeled and sliced thin
  1. Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in small saucepan set over medium heat.  Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Let cool.
  2. Stir in peppercorns, juniper berries, fennel seeds, serrano chile.  Pour over mangos and cover for one to two days.

Crab Cakes with Mango Tartar Sauce

  • 1 lb crab
  • 4 scallions, white parts finely diced, green parts thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup corn bread, crumbled finely and toasted
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. Combine scallions, red onion, mayonnaise, mustard, chile powder, black pepper, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix together well.
  2. Add crab meat and toss gently to coat, trying not to break up any large chunks of crab.
  3. Add bread crumbs and stir lightly to mix together.  Pack crabcakes together tightly.
  4. In large skillet, heat several tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook crabcakes in batches for several minutes per side, until golden brown.

Finally, because I am still experimenting with my ice cream maker, I wanted to go a little crazy and try my hand at a habanero-ginger ice cream.  The recipe is largely ripped off from a Food & Wine recipe for vanilla ice cream, although the habanero and ginger are solely my additions.  I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but the first bite sold me: the bracing flavors of ginger leaped out but then a slow, hot finish from the habanero set in, completely juxtaposed against the cold and smooth ice cream.  The only thing I have to figure out now is what would be the perfect thing to serve with this ice cream.

"Why is there a zipper in the back of your towel?"

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pickled mango, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons pickling liquid from pickled mango
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine mayonnaise, mustard, mango, and pickling juice.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Habanero-Ginger Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 habaneros, seeded
  • 1 2-inch piece of ginger roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup, habanero, and ginger. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract and the salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
  4. Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container.
  5. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.

Arugula-Red Pepper-Goat Cheese Ravioli with Brown Butter

In Main Dish on January 12, 2010 at 8:59 pm

My posting has been a little lax in the new year as I have been a little bit busy and have on several occasions just fallen back on cooking some old standards, which wouldn’t warrant my posting.  So, here I am with an interesting post in that it was an experiment and that I can not say it was a complete success.  But it was enough of a success to post.

Rolling Pasta requires a white t-shirt

See, I’ve never made pasta before.  As some know, I have long been unfamiliar with many of the Italian standards and it certainly would seem as if pasta were in that category.  And if the results were any indication, my unfamiliarity showed in the pasta, which could use some improvement.  Maybe it was the recipe, maybe it was the technique.  We had no pasta maker so we had to go the old-fashioned way and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, hence the gratuitous shot of yours truly with said rolling pin.  If I improve upon the pasta, I’ll repost that.  But the filling and sauce here are the stars.

The filling had the sweet and smokiness of roasted red pepper with the pleasantly bitter flavor of the arugula all tied up in goat cheese and ricotta.  And the raviolis were then tossed in brown butter, sage, and walnut sauce, which had just a hint of spiciness with some crushed red pepper.

We paired the ravioli with a 2004 Côtes du Rhône Pont d’ Avignon, which had a dry and deceptively sweet flavor that paired well with the walnut and brown butter sauce.  Overall it was a fairly robust wine.  Interestingly, there was a strong barbecue sauce aroma but no real traces of that in the flavor.

Photos courtesy of Lena Sharp

For Filling (makes about two dozen large ravioli):

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ pound baby arugula
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup goat cheese
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper, finely chopped
  1. Heat butter in skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until soft.  Add salt, pepper, and arugula and cook for several minutes until arugula has wilted. Remove from heat.
  2. Add lemon zest, goat cheese, ricotta, and roasted red pepper and stir until well combined.
  3. Fill ravioli with filling.

Look at those...beautiful!

For Brown Butter Sauce:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped sage
  • ¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Cook butter in large skillet over medium heat until foam subsides.  Add walnuts and cook for four or five minutes.  Add sage, crushed red pepper, and salt and pepper to taste.
  2. When ravioli have been boiled in water, remove and place in pan, tossing to coat.