IIP: Lebanese Fruit Cocktail Sundae

It’s that wonderful time once again for an International Incident Party hosted by the wonderful Penny at Jeroxie. This month the theme is Sundaes! Oh How I love Thee Ice Cream! Yep I do eat ice cream 12 months out of the year…but Penny, who is down under, is laying in the hot summer sun right now while I am knee deep in snow! Maybe not the best time of the year for me. I guess it is time to play reverse psychology with myself and turn a negative into a positive….my Sundae will call out for Spring to arrive asap!

But quickly before, the randomly picked winner of the What is your Color TEArapy Mood Contest is…drum roll please….Kate from DietHood.com. Congratulations!

About 10 years ago I discovered a place in Montreal – in a lost industrial corner of the city – called Cocktail Antabli, a place that specializes in exotic fruit cocktails and waffles. It is owned by a Lebanese family. After my first experience there it became a mandatory yearly pilgrimage at the very least once a year. The fruit cocktails are ginormous and filling….they are more then a meal on their own. But so good, especially the big gooey white topping with pistachios drizzled in honey. And I always picked one with the amazing avocado purée.

So for this challenge I decided to recreate my favorite fruit cocktail from this shop. Now a Sundae does require ice cream and there is none in the original version, so I decided to turn the avocado purée into avocado ice cream. My post may look daunting because there are several recipes…but they are all short and very quick. I highly recommend you make this treat. The secret is picking perfectly ripe and sweet fruits. Oh ad that gooey white stuff I found out is called Ashta. The trick when eating it is to go a bit under the ashta and only have a small portion of it with each spoonfull so you still have ashta left with your last bites. I was very pleased to find a recipe for it on one of my favorite blogs owned by Joumana, Taste of Beirut. OK here we go with the making of:

Lebanese Fruit Cocktail Sundae

Ingredients:
mango, strawberry, banana…sliced or cut
avocado ice cream (see below)
mango purée (see below)
strawberry coulis (see below)
ashta (see below)
pistachio
honey

Directions:

  1. In a very tall glass layer a bit of bananas and mangoes then cover with a bit of strawberry coulis.
  2. Next layer strawberries and cover with a bit of mango purée.
  3. Add a scoop of avocado ice cream.
  4. Repeat the 3 layers
  5. Top with a big scoop of ashta, crushes pistachio and a liberal drizzling of honey. Find a very long spoon!

Avocado Ice Cream Recipe

250ml heavy cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
250ml milk
3 ripe avocados

Peel and seed the avocados, put into a blender with the milk and make a purée. Pour the purée into a mixing bowl, add the sugar, lemon juice and cream and beat until creamy. Transfer the mixture into an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Mango Purée

flesh of 1/2 a mango
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
Blend together to get a creamy purée.  If too thick, adjust consistency with water.

Strawberry Coulis

1 cup of strawberries, chopped
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp sugar
Blend together to get a creamy coulis.  If too thick, adjust consistency with water.

Ashta, makes about 1 cup

2 slices of American-style white bread
500ml of half-and-half or 1/2 milk and 1/2 heavy cream
2  tablespoons   of cornstarch, diluted in a bit of water
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of orange blossom water, 1 teaspoon of rose water

  1. Start by cutting the edges off the bread. Cut the soft white part in dices.
  2. Pour the half-and-half or milk and cream mixture (or whole milk) in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the diced bread and let it soak in the milk mixture for as long as possible, a day if you can.
  3. Heat the milk and bread mixture, add the sugar; dilute the cornstarch in water; stir the milk mixture continuously until it starts to steam; add the cornstarch and keep stirring until the mixture thickens, making sure it does not burn (adjust the heat).
  4. Add the flavored waters if using, stir a few seconds more and remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, let it cool and then cover with plastic and store in the fridge overnight to give the cream a chance to thicken.

International

 

The Vine Leaves in your Backyard

I spent the weekend a while back at my friend Karyn’s house which is just outside the island on Montreal. Even if basically part of Montreal for me it still felt like a trip outside of town. We had such a blast with great food (she will one day actually send me a guest blog of the breakfast she made (RIGHT?)) and we had a great day for a neighborhood party in honor of Fire Men Day. NO we saw zero shirtless firemen…I was very upset!

But the first night was one of BBQ, relaxation and cocktails, followed by a relaxing morning by the pool. We were talking about the vegetation and future plans of Kryn’s backyard. “Yeah those are vine leaves used for Dolmades’ she says. WHAT? Like I can just pick some and cook with them? ‘YES, take some” Karyn said.

Well she did not have tell me twice. I left there with 10 leaves. Here is my first dolmades experience! I had no clue what to do with them when I got home. I found ALL my answers here at Ellen’s Kitchen. I know you roll your mixture in the leaves…but what do you do to the leaves? What is the mixture and can I mess around with it? How on earth do I roll the leaf? How do I cook it? Ellen answered all my questions…phew!

Dolmades Recipe

The leaves: real directions on how to use fresh leaves.

Blanch loose, a dozen at a time, by placing in strong salted boiling brine, 1 C. salt to 4 C. water. Bring water back to a boil and then remove leaves immediately with a skimmer or pancake turner; and then plunge the leaves immediately into cold/ ice water. Drain, dry with paper towels or shake dry. Don’t omit this, it is done to set the color and also prevents enzyme action while freezing. Use immediately, or stack in rolls of six, roll from the side and tie; wrap in airtight plastic and freezer bags.

The Filling

Usually dolmas is filled with seasoned rice, sometimes with a bit of meat as well. I invented my own filling, no measurements, just did it by feeling. Ingredients are:

  • ground beef
  • couscous
  • 1 egg
  • onions
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • ginger
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • salt, pepper

Stuffing and rolling

Trim stem off. With  with shiny of leaf down, place a small spoonful of prepared stuffing at the stem end of the leaf, roll about one turn. Fold in the two sides. Continue rolling to the tip of the leaf. The package should be firm, but not tight, as the stuffing will expand while cooking.

Cooking

See Ellen’s Kitchen for full instructions but I steamed mine. I did no have enough leaves for all the meat so I lined my steamer with parchment paper and flattened my leftover meat on the bottom…like a thin meatloaf. Then I placed the rolled leaves with the seam side down. I placed the basket in a large enough pot with 2-3 cups of broth. Once the broth was boiling I lowered to simmer and steamed about 45 minutes covered.

Finally I prepared a quit sauce to serve with….

Egg and lemon sauce, Greek style:

  • 2-3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • juice of 2-3 lemons
  • broth from the dish being cooked (or hot beef or chicken broth or stock)

Preparation:

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and 2-3 ladle full of broth, beating continuously. Transfer mixture to a small saucepan and heat gently. Whisk while heating, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not boil.