In a surprise, no, shocking move for Casa SaltShaker we repeated a menu. Yes, we did. It simply came down to things being somewhat slow the week before last, other than the private dinner I wrote about recently, so I decided that we’d just continue the same menu for last week. I know, it’s akin to finding out that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny aren’t really married, but so be it.
Confit of jibia – the tentacles of the Humboldt squid (in olive oil with chili, garlic, cinnamon, star anise, clove, black pepper, coriander and salt), sauteed eggplant, roasted cherry tomatoes, fontina-fennel seed crumble, black olive mayo, chorizo puree, lemon oil, quinua sprouts. Do we like the ring presentation? I do, but I’m not known for my artistic sensibilities.
I don’t know that I’ve ever detailed our favorite hummus soup – I know I sketched it out in its earliest incarnations and here and there I’ve mentioned changes that I’ve made, but it’s not necessarily been a coherent spiel. One of the guests asked for the recipe, and this is what I sent her: “Into a pot put 2 cans of chickpeas, 2 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste), zest and juice of 1 lemon, 3-4 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 1 tablespoon of smoked chili (I used half ancho chili powder and half syrian aleppo pepper, but any medium spicy smoked pepper will work, you just might have to adjust the amounts to taste), 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon of toasted cumin seeds, and 1 large potato, peeled and cut in pieces. Fill with vegetable stock (or water and a couple of vegetable stock cubes), bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are soft. Puree in a blender (careful, it’s hot!) with a handful of parsley leaves, taste and add more salt if needed. We top it with cauliflower that’s just cut up and sauteed in some olive oil with salt, pepper and ground coriander until soft and lightly browned, some yogurt that’s mixed with a little salt, and some oil that’s shaken up with some smoked paprika (pimentón ahumado).”
A “risotto” of mote de trigo – wheatberries that have been treated with lime and peeled, much the way hominy corn is treated. Cooked with smoked venison, onions and garlic, and then when soft, we add in chopped zucchini, chicory, escarole and celery, along with tomato paste and fresh oregano. Finished with grated pecorino cheese. Topped with sauteed quarters of button and baby portobello mushrooms with thyme.
New main course – Gatuzo is a common enough “fish” seen here, in reality it’s a type of shark called the “narrownose smooth-hound”. I rarely see many recipes for it – maybe it’s the one I should tackle with a series of how-tos over the next few months, I haven’t done that for awhile. I wonder if there are enough local classic recipes to offer up an interesting series. Research to begin. Here, however, nothing local – marinated fillets for the day in my version of the North African spice and herb mixture, chermoula, then placed on a baking sheet and stuck under the broiler to cook. Served over a roasted carrot puree and accompanied by one of our spicy heart of palm fritters, and topped with slivers of preserved lemon and a little herb salad of cilantro, parsley and chives. The colors on the dish just beg to be plated on a black plate, don’t you think?
New dessert – fresh papaya cheesecake topped with sweetened vanilla sour cream, caramelized papaya, spiced almonds, and toasted and ground papaya seed.
I’d overall say everyone was happy and the two new dishes worked out really well, both will come back down the line.