I promised last week that I’d start posting a little about new dishes at the dinners. I think that’s a nice compromise between doing a writeup on every week’s menu, and what I’ve been doing for the last while, just posting the occasional recipe for one or another dish. So here are a trio of standouts from the last few weeks:
I recently read Virgilio Martinez’ book Lima the Cookbook. You might know the name, he’s the chef at Central, the restaurant that two years running has been named the best restaurant in Latin America (and the year before, #4). The book is an exploration into some modern takes on traditional Peruvian home cooking, and using indigenous ingredients in new and interesting ways. I spotted one recipe using palmitos, palm hearts, where he roasted them, something I’d never thought about doing. In his dish, he had roasted palmitos along with quiwicha, a type of amaranth, cooked and then mixed with achiote, or annatto, oil. It was a very simple dish, and I tried it, liked it, but wanted to take it further, more or less fusing it with our our “ensalada amazonica”.
So – roasted heart of palm, along with our herb roasted tomatoes. Topped with quinua (I tried the amaranth, but the texture and flavor is less interesting to me than quinua) that’s been cooked with a sun-dried tomato, and then mixed with an oil infused with the annatto seeds, pepperoncino, and the sun-dried tomato removed from the pot. Our guacamole puree, and a sauce vierge (thickened fresh tomato, shallot and thyme vinaigrette), and scattereed cilantro leaves.
Given that I have a local source of pork liver, that I used in the Austrian bread and soup entry, I decided to play around with it. It’s not an organ meat that seems to be used a whole lot, at least not in online recipes. In fact most of what you get when you google it are discussions of whether it’s less or more toxic than other livers, whether it’s really good for you or not, tasty or not, and the like. It’s obviously something that’s been used in some cultures for a long time – Austrian meatballs and all that – so I just kind of ignored the blathering. I liked what I came up with, and over a week of dinners, only one person didn’t seem to, though several expressed surprise when seeing it on the menu.
Pork liver tempura (rice flour crust). Lentils cooked in bacon stock. Fried chickpeas. Roasted yellow cherry tomatoes. Dots of our salsa negra (charred rocoto chili sauce). A red wine vinegar caramel drizzled over it all. Slivered endive. Yum all around.
Remember when I said that something was going to end up inspired by the caramelized white chocolate and dulce de leche filled ají amarillo at Söder a couple of weeks ago? Some sort of direct inspiration is still in the works, but the idea of combining those sorts of flavors took root in my brain and ended up with a rather odd dish, that turned out to be a complete hit – in fact we served it two weeks in a row.
White chocolate and pink peppercorn cheesecake over a pistachio crust. Caramelized white chocolate and dulce de leche infused with Korean chili flakes and Szeuchuan peppercorns. Pistachio paste. Pistachio syrup. I tell you, it works. The presentation needs some refining, but the flavors are all there.