Fish tortilla citrus vanilla gastrique radish salsa

A wonderful new way to enjoy a fish tortilla: top it with a fabulous citrus & vanilla gastrique and a radish salsa! Served with battered radish leaves.

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ladies and Germs: 5 Star Makeovers is at WAR this month. Yes you read me right. We have created our very own friendly competition based on Restaurant Wars, like the popular part of the Top Chef show. Members of this fabulous gourmet group were divided into teams of 3. We had to come up with a restaurant or menu based on an ingredient or concept. My personal challenge: radishes meet fish tortilla!

Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Who knows but unfortunately we did loose some teams along the way following incidents. Mine survived without any battle. I am so happy to have worked with my 2 particular team members Faith and Shannon. We all got along fabulously, came to decisions rather fast and we were very encouraging of one another.

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa

My team chose radishes and we announced our menu about a month ago here: Raphanus! Celebrating the Radish. Not one of us were particular fans of this vegetable but we all appreciated the challenge of turning this foe into a shinning star for our dishes. And since that was not tough enough we added another aspect: there must be a citrus vanilla component to our dish. All 3 of us were ready to confront our radish dish with our chef’s sleeves rolled up. Who won? In the end the radish won us all over.

After reading my post please go visit the rest of my team so you can see our complete menu. You will find Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links. I can’t wait to go check them out. But first let’s take a look at my dish, the main course:

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves.

Say that 3 times fast lol. It’s a mouth full…but a so delicious one. OK so my vanilla component is a vanilla gastrique. I never made one before so this was new. A gastrique is a reduction of a sweet and sour element, usually sugar and vinegar. I added a vanilla bean to mine. This stuff is freaking addictive it’s ridiculous. I used it as part of my Radish salsa vinaigrette.

I more then covered the citrus factor. In total I used satsuma mandarin juice, Yuzu lemon juice, dried orange peel and lime juice. I also wanted to add a little heat to my dish since it has a Tex Mex flair. I chose a Serrano pepper and some habanero infused salt, just a touch.

My radish salsa plays the crowning jewel atop of a fantastic fish tortilla dish. Although I enjoy it I don’t prepare a whole lot of Tex Mex, it’s not part of my culture. And I had never had a fish in a tortilla before, something I had been curious about after seeing such a dish featured on a few blogs. Well it was just fantastic and the sweet tanginess of the radish salsa gave it a perfect flavor kick.

And there is a side dish surprise recipe all the way at the bottom of this post!

 

Vanilla Gastrique

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Zinfandel vinegar (you can use any vinegar)
1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise

Add all ingredients to a pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 and is syrupy. Allow to cool and discard bean.

Red and Black Radishes, the Stars of the show

 

Radish Salsa adapted from Figareau

12 radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 satsuma mandarin (or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu lemon juice (or lime)
1 tbsp vanilla gastrique
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch habanero infused salt (or plain salt)
Pepper to taste

Washed, trim and dice finely the radishes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Ξ Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa Ξ

team radish 15

For the fish

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (I used Tilapia)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Dash of salt and pepper

Heat grill or oven to 400F. Place fish in an aluminum pan, coat with olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cook about 10 minutes (more or less) until fish comes apart with a fork.

team radish 6  team radish 7

team radish 1  team radish 5b

Assembly

tortillas
red bean paste
prepared fish
red onions, thinly sliced
cilantro
sour cream with a touch of lime juice and diced Serrano pepper.
radish salsa

Line plate with tortillas. Spoon a layer of red bean paste. Place fish on top of red beans.
Top fish with red onions, cilantro, sour cream and radish salsa. Makes 4 individual servings or 1 big plate to divide.

WAIT, one more recipe, a SIDE DISH adapted from Kitchen Gossip. Why throw away those lovely radish greens? These fritters are like a cross between hush puppies and an Indian Bahji – unique to say the least.

team radish 4  team radish 11

team radish 12

Ξ Battered radish leaves Ξ

2 cups radish leaves, chopped
3 heaping tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Oil to Deep Fry
Water

Mix leaves, flours and spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time and mix until batter is sticky
Shape into small balls and deep fry in oil at 375F until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

Don’t forget to go visit Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links after leaving a comment. Thank you to our amazing organizer who came up with this brilliant concept: Natasha at 5 Star Foodie &  Laz at Lazaro Cooks!

Introducing Team Radish

I’ve got two special announcements today. First I just got back from the hospital the cast is OFF, freedom and physio therapy ahead. And second, a huge event, as part of the 5 Star Foodie Makeover group!  We have a May Event – Restaurant Wars.

For this event, the group got divided into teams of three.  Each team was responsible for choosing the theme or main ingredient for their restaurant.  Then each member produces an appetizer, main course or dessert.

The first challenge was to decide on a main ingredient with my teammates Faith and Shannon.  We wanted something a little different…  something challenging…  a vegetable none of us like?  Indeed, we’re trying to come around to this root vegetable ourselves 🙂

Photo from risingriverfarm.com

Radishes are members of the mustard family Brassicaceae, along the likes of broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.  The flesh of radishes is crisp with a peppery flavor.  Some of the more common varieties of radishes include red globe, black, breakfast and daikon.

A favorite of any gardener, radishes are easy to grow and their rapid germination means that radishes will be one of your first harvests!  Radishes are a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, calcium, potassium, folate and vitamin C.

When buying radishes, choose ones that are firm, unblemished and brightly colored.  It is also good to make sure that the attached greens are nice and healthy as well.  If you aren’t using them right away, cut away the greens and pop the radishes into a jar and cover with water.  They’ll stay nice and crisp in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.

While they’re most often enjoyed raw or pickled, we thought radishes would be a worthy challenge for Restaurant Wars, where they are going to take center stage through a three course meal.  To make things even more interesting, citrus and vanilla will be incorporated into each dish.  Go ahead, have a taste!

A Birthday Feast through Italy appetizers and Avocado Ice Cream

Ah the first big menu planning of the year! It always coincides with my mother’s birthday on April 1st when I have my parents over for dinner. Younger I would choose very long and elaborate recipes that would take an entire day to prepare. Now wiser in years I have learned to plan very sophisticated looking menus consisting of easy but wonderful recipes. If I am well organized I can pop out such a meal in 2 or 3 hours…exhausting ones. The hard part is finding the first inspiration.

In this case it was a bunch of rapini I had bought a few days before. It is not a vegetable I have cooked with very often but after seeing it a blog post ton it I was inspired to try my hand at it again. From there came an Italian theme spread over the whole menu. I like to think of it as  Southern Italian menu filled with cured meats, fish, fresh vegetables, ricotta and nuts. I hope you will enjoy my presentation of the meal….

The evening started of with a cocktail and lovely bites to nibble on while we toasted  to my mom’s birthday: Prosciutto Purses by Giada de Laurentis. A few handfuls of Sesame Roasted Nuts accompanied the purses. I adapted the recipe with walnuts, pistachios and almonds. I did not have the mentioned spices so I used cinnamon, cocoa mole rub, chili pepper flakes and garlic salt.

The Prosciutto Purses are very easy to make. I just used half a cantaloupe and scooped out 9 balls with a spoon. Then I just rolled up the cantaloupe balls with a slice of proscuitto and tied my purse with a sprig of chives. Here is the secret:  blanch the chives briefly until just a bit limp. This way they will not break when you make the knot.

My appetizer consisted of three Zucchini Ricotta Roll-ups per person served on a bed of pureed snow peas. I just cooked the peas till soft in a bit of vegetable stock and added a bit of garlic salt and pepper. I passed this through the blender and got an amazingly colorful shiny dark green puree.

The main course was a simple baked white fish recipe which was accompanied by Polenta with Beans and Rapini, the inspiration dish of the whole menu. A bigger portion could be a vegetarian meal on its own. I went with a soft polenta in which I added cheddar cheese. I loved this dish, the mix of flavors and textures was sublime, from the acidic sweetness of the tomatoes, the earthy mellowing taste of the beans to the perfect bitterness of the rapini.

The meal ended with a wonderful gluten-free Blueberry Almond Cake. This cake is just about all eggs, 6 to be exact. I followed the recipe but added some blueberries: I poured half the cake mix in the pan, sprinkled the berries and then covered then with the other half. I think this made the cake but my cake deflated. A little simple looking but there was no shortcoming in taste.

A very unusual but perfect pairing was a portion of homemade Avocado Ice Cream. I had this ice cream in the freezer for a while and had just enough for 3 small portions. I melted a bit the ice cram down and placed it in 3 canellé mold. The resulting presentation is reminiscent of the classic Tartufo ice cream.

Avocado Ice Cream

Avocado Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup milk

3 ripe avocados

Directions

Peel and seed the avocados; put flesh into a blender with the milk and purée. Pour all the ingredients an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Buon appetito!

Preps for the 24th: a Paris Brest and Dreaming of Zen Cocktail

Tic toc, tic toc…is all your shopping and preparations done for Christmas? Me neither! Well most of the the shopping is done but the next days will be jam packed.

-Dinner tonight with 2 girlfriends at my place (only our 3rd try but NO REASON for unforseen events yet). This will be relax and fun and we will cook together.
-Tomorrow more shopping but more stuff for me like a bit of clothes and spend the gift certificate I won at work at Futureshop!
– Wed cooking for the 24th, wrapping presents and packing for an overnight.

My family tradition is as follow: the 24th immediate family and the 25th the whole family. I go to my parents straight from work laden with clothes, gifts, baked goods and sleep there. For maybe 2 decades now I am in charge of two recipes on Christmas Eve: the cocktail and the dessert. But I am bringing 3 this year, the third being a fancy snack to eat while opening the presents and drinking some bubbly.

I thought of instead showing you what I made after the 24th I would instead share what I will make…and then come back with the results after the celebrations. So this is on my menu this year:

Dreaming of Zen

adapted (original here)

  • 1 oz Zen Green Tea Liqueur
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 3 oz mango juice
  • white pepper
  • 1 oz cream
  • mint leaves for garnish

Pour the ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice.
Shake well.
Strain into a Champagne flute.
Garnish with a mint leaves.

Paris Brest

This was a specific request from my mom. Its been a while since I have done this dessert. It is made with choux pastry. I first did choux pastry at a young age and always found it one of the oddest recipes to make but I have always been successful. The Paris Brest is actually named after a bicycle race between, your guessed it, Paris and Brest. It’s shape is representative of a bike wheel. For the holidays is passes well as a wreath too. Many recipes have a heavier filling but I like to just use crême Chantilly so I adapted the recipe below accordingly.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place a small pan containing about 2-3 cups of hot water onto the bottom of your oven ( directly onto the bottom of the oven) to generate steam. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with shortening and then dust lightly with flour. Use a 10 inch pan as a template and draw a 10 inch circle onto the flour dusted sheet using a toothpick. Set aside.
  2. Place the 4 eggs into a small measuring cup and mix with a fork to combine, set aside.
  3. Combine the milk, water, salt and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a full boil, add the flour all at once and stir to make a paste. Continue to stir over the heat for about 40 seconds until the paste dries a little. Remove from heat and place paste into a mixing bowl. Let cool about 4 minutes.
  4. With a mixer on low, mix the paste and slowly add the beaten eggs in 4 shots. Mix slowly but thoroughly until all of the eggs have been added. Place the paste into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round decorating tip. Pipe the paste out onto the sheet pan following the 10 inch ring you outlined. Pipe a second ring around the inside next to this ring. Finally, pipe another ring on top of these two rings. Lightly paint the set of rings with the remaining 1 beaten egg and press the sliced almonds into the paste.
  5. Place in the oven on the lowest shelf and bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and bake about 12 minutes more or until brown. Remove form the oven and using a long serrated knife slice off the top half of the puffed ring. Remove any bits of raw dough on the inside of the ring. Replace the top and place back in the oven to crisp the dough, about 5 more minutes. Cool on a rack.
  6. To Make The Filling: Pour cream, sugar and vanilla extract into a large bowl and whip together lightly until stiff peaks just begin to form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe the cream mixture into the ring and then replace the top. If you wish, sprinkle with additional powdered sugar.

Dulche de Leche Mousse and Praline Hazelnut Verrine

Well I will have to be back with this recipe as it is a printed one from the the (I believe) December 2009 issue of Coup de Pouce, a French home magazine I get at home.  The picture is to give an idea of the concept…not that recipe’s result. But basically imagine a fine crystal shooter glass filled 1/3 maple syrup jelly with hazelnuts and 2/3 filled with a dulche de leche mousse.

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Come back to see the results of my accomplishments on the 27th!