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savory

Zucchini-Cocoa, Lime-Ginger and Smoked Salmon Mousse Verrine - Velveteers March 2010

Verrine

The Velveteers band again. This month we decided to challenge ourselves with making savory Verrines.

A verrine is a confection, originally from France, made by layering ingredients in a small glass. It can be either sweet or savoury, making a dessert or snack (source: Wikipedia).

Around the blogosphere, there have been many a verrine showcased but they were mostly of the sweet kind. And, so, we decided to go savory (I must say, that, was well received by Mr. FSK as well!). To push the envelope even more, each of us, Pam, Al, Aparna and I, chose one ingredient that must be used in our verrine. So we came up with - salmon, chocolate, cheese and squash; quite an eclectic combination, especially with the chocolate throwing one off the loop!

Verrine from top

I have long wanted to make verrines and have dreamed up quite a few flavor combinations, sweet and savory, that I have jotted down as drafts in my mailbox, my virtual notes diary. I had even bought glasses for them a couple of months back. But, this was the first I was actually executing. So, I was really thrilled and looking forward to it.

I was reasonably sure on how to use the squash, salmon and cheese but the chocolate was testing me quite a bit. Finally, I decided to use cocoa and pair it with zucchini (for the squash) because honestly, I could not think of anything to pair with that made sense with the rest of the ingredients.

Verrine 1

I had decided to make a Zucchini-Cocoa Mousse and Salmon Mousse. However, they did not quite seem to just go with each other on their own. I felt there needed to be a coordinating layer or sorts. When I tasted the zucchini-cocoa mousse, I felt like it needed a bit of kick. So, I went back to the drawing board.

I wanted something light so as to not overpower either the zucchini (which is quite delicate in flavor) or the salmon and yet connect them seamlessly. Citrus popped into my head as did ginger. Both, I think pair very well with zucchini and salmon individually and I figured that should work. So, became my middle layer of Lime and Ginger Mousse.

I made the zucchini and lime layers with whipped cream and used Cream Cheese to make the salmon mousse, lending it a richer texture. To top it off, I made a chilli-cocoa crusted zucchini chip.

Verrine 3

Verdict: The verrine was really good. The flavors came through individually and melded well together. The citrus kick was just enough to lighten the richness of the salmon mousse and brighten the zucchini. I think the chip was a bit overpoweringly bitter, probably because I used a lot of cocoa. Next time I think I'll sweeten it with some honey for a mellower flavor. All in all, Mr. FSK polished them off eagerly; So, I call it a success!


Zucchini-Cocoa, Lime-Ginger and Smoked Salmon Mousse Verrine
(serves 2)

Zucchini-Cocoa mousse:

1 zucchini, sliced; reserve some long strips for the chips
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp dried zucchini powder
1/2 cup whipping cream (you will use only half of it, reserve the other for the 2nd layer)
1/2 tsp of gelatin or agar-agar
1 T hot water
salt and lemon pepper per taste

Blanch the zucchini in hot water until translucent. Transfer immediately to ice cold water to retain the green color. Let it cool. Meanwhile, dissolve gelatin in a tablespoon of hot water.

Puree the cooled zucchini with the gelatin water to a smooth texture. Fold in cocoa, dried zucchini powder and season with salt and pepper. Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold in half of it to the zucchini mixture.

Divide the zucchini-cocoa mousse equally between two glasses. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 4 hours to let it set.

Note: You can make zucchini powder by thinly slicing zucchini and letting it sit in an off oven overnight or until it has completely lost it's moisture content and then grinding it to a fine powder.


Lime-Ginger Mousse:

zest of half a lime
juice of half a lime
1/4 tsp gelatin
1 inch chunk of ginger, grated very fine
remaining half of whipped cream from above
salt to taste

Combine the zest, juice and ginger. Add the gelatin and heat the mixture until the gelatin dissolves. Season with salt. Fold in the whipped cream and layer over the zucchini mousse layer. Let set in the refrigerator for atleast 4 hours.

Smoked Salmon Mousse:

3 T smoked salmon of your choice + more for garnish
3 T cream cheese at room temperature
1 T heavy cream
1 T hot water
1/4 tsp gelatin
salt and pepper to taste

Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Whip all the ingredients together to make a smooth, creamy mixture. Pipe into the glasses over the lime mousse layer. Allow to set for atleast 4 hours.

Chilli-Cocoa Crusted Zucchini Chips
(this is the modified version based on my experience and what I think will work better)

2 zucchini slices, sliced lengthwise with skin on
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt

Mix together the honey, cocoa, paprika and salt and rub the zucchini slices generously. Cover with wrap and let marinate for a few hours. Deep fry them to crisp and sprinkle with sea salt crystals.


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Velveteers was started by Aparna, Asha, Alessio and Pam, who are passionate about different cuisines and food in general. Each month, we will attempt a new dish and share our experiences and the recipes we used. If you’re interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment.

Do, check out what the other Velveteers have created:

Alessio - http://recipetaster.blogspot.com/

Something sweet, something savory for Diwali - Cashew Burfi and Murukku

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Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, is my favorite festival of all, and perhaps the grandest of all for most Indians as well :-). As a kid, the festival meant new clothes, uncensored gluttony and crackers day & night. As an adolescent, it was about catching up and hanging out with family and friends, exchanging wishes and sweets and ofcourse, unadulterated gluttony (that doesn't change with age!).

When I moved out of India for work, initially, I would get sorely homesick around this time. I missed the festive air, the happy laughter, the meeting and greetings and someone else who would make all the goodies ('palagarams' in Tamil) that I could devour. Slowly, as we made more and more friends, and many Indian ones, and I started taking an active interest in cooking, I could recreate some of that magic in our little abode here far away from home in India.

Wishes were exchanged with family over the phone and with friends in real time. We host little parties for each other to share our homemade or store bought sweet as well as savory creations. For me, this is the time when I show my love through my hand made palagarams and I look forward to it very very much!

Diwali is also the one festival when sweets are made ahead of time and it isn't taboo to dip in prior to the day. That made it extra special! Imagine, weeks (before and after) of indulgence rather than just a day or two. For every other festival, all goodies are usually made on the day and first presented to the god/goddess whose day it was before us mortals could sample it. But, Diwali transcends any one deity and even religion. Technically it is a Hindu festival but is celebrated by one and all because it is a festival of Lights and not of God ....

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Every year, for Diwali and only for it, I make Cashew Burfi. Kaju Katli (cashew fudge) is my absolute favorite Indian sweet. I love it for the pure cashew flavor and not-too-sweet bite. So, for that little sweet thing, I make my version of it with milk. I reduce down full fat (yes, had to be full!) milk slowly, oh very slowly, to a thick sticky consistency. All the love is in that slow reduction because you have stir constantly for hours to get it right! :)

And, for something savory, because you need that balance, I make Murukku, crispy fried dough spirals. Traditionally, it is fried in ghee (clarified butter) (Well, technically everything is cooked in ghee for the occasion to signify the indulgence). Murukku is an irresistable snack, much like the potato chip. You just cannot eat just one! :)

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So that's how we spent the day ... snacking on murukkus and indulging on cashew burfi while catching up with friends and wishing everyone a wonderful and prosperous year ahead!! And, I send you the same love and wishes to you all!

From my family to yours - Have a joyous year ahead filled with many many delights and happy memories!! :))


Cashew Burfi

8 cups whole milk
1 cup cashews + another 1/4 cup for garnish
1/2 cup sugar
pinch cardamom powder

Roast cashews for 15 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees until golden brown. Cool to room temperature. Process the cashews with the sugar to as fine a powder as you can.

In a wide heavy bottomed pan, slowly reduce the milk over low heat to one-fourth its volume. Do not use a non-stick pan for this. It always burns at the bottom and burnt milk does not make any good sweet! When the milk is reduced, stir in the cashew mixture and cook for 30 minutes more until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan and very thick.

Pour into a greased cake pan. Once the mixture has cooled enough to handle, spoon out about a tablespoon of the burfi onto to lightly greased hands and roll into a ball. Top each with a roasted cashew as garnish.


Murukku

Picture 037-12 cups rice flour
1/2 cup urad dal (split gram) flour
1/4 cup semolina
3 T garbanzo flour
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp caraway seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
3 T butter, melter
1 T salt
1/2 tsp asofetida powder
3/4 cup water or more as needed

Sift together the flours, semolina and salt. Stir in the cumin, caraway and sesame seeds. Add the melted butter to make a crumbly mixture. Slowly add water to make a dough that just comes together; much like a shortbread dough. Grease your palms and knead the dough until it comes away from the sides of the pan. Cover with a damp towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.

When ready to fry the murukkus, heat oil in a small wok to 350 degrees. Maintain the flame at low. If you have a murukku maker, choose the shape you want and fill with the dough. You can get one of these handy little things at an Indian store. If you can't find one, fret not, you can use a cookie press as well.

On a clean plastic shape, press out shapes and then transfer into the oil. Fry until golden brown and there are no bubbles in the oil. Remove onto a kitchen towel to soak any excess oil. You can store in an airtight container for a week.




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