Monday, January 24, 2011

California Christmas: Chopped

I am not sure if anyone else watches Chopped but it's a show on the Food Network where people have to make an appetizer, main course, and dessert using specific ingredients. The challenge is that the ingredients are not always "normal". I have to use candy canes in my appetizer? Or bacon in my dessert?

Needless to say, watching it is a guilty pleasure of mine. And my aunt and uncle are fans of the show as well. As entertainment on a blustery evening in Northern California, we created a chopped challenge of our own!
The Rules:
My aunt and I had to make appetizers using cucumbers, my foraged chanterelles, and persimmons; a entree using salmon, asparagus, and (I can't remember what else); a dessert using pomegranates, quinoa, and chocolate.

Appetizer: Cucumber Disks with a Roasted Red Pepper-Walnut Spread, Wild Chanterelle Crostinis, Spicy Lime Tortilla Chips with Persimmon Chips and an Orange-Persimmon

Roasted Red Pepper-Walnut Spread
Also known as muhammara (I LOVE this word). Recipe from the NY Times.

3/4 c walnuts, toasted and chopped
3 red bell peppers, roasted
3/4 c fresh bread crumbs*
1 jalapeƱo or other small hot chili pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T pomegranate molasses
1 T lemon juice
1 t ground cumin
salt and pepper
2 T olive oil.

Put all ingredients (except oil) in food processor and pulse until smooth.
Slowly pour in olive oil into running food processor.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Eat with anything and everything: cucumbers, pita bread, your hands...

Entree: Asparagus and Red Onion Salad, Miso-glazed Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sweet Potato Latkes with Cranberry Relish, garnished with mixed salad greens.

Sweet Potato Latkes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1 green onion, finely chopped
1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 T ground flax seeds, whisked into 3 T water
salt, pepper, smoked paprika

Grate the sweet potatoes (my aunt had a fancy grater feature on her food processor which made this process VERY easy)
Mix together all the ingredients, except the oil.
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
Take a handful of sweet potato mixture and form a patty.
Fry in oil until dark brown, about 5 minutes.
Flip to fry the other side.
Allow to cool on a rag (to wick away excess oil)
Serve with cranberry chutney!

Dessert: Spicy Chocolate-Dipped Date-Walnut Truffles, Pomegranate Quinoa Patties
My first pomegranate! Too pretty.

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