Saturday, November 25, 2006

Ladies Lunch Menu for 15

Although no one complained or noticed, I had to take the second course off the menu. The problem was the molds I used for the Chicken Liver Timbale, some of the timbales didn't unmold properly. Anyway, it's a good thing these ladies eat like birds and so there was enough food to go around twice.

Sweet Potato Soup

Chicken Liver Timbale with Tomato Bearnaisse

Lapu-lapu (Grouper) Fillet in Saffron Sauce
(from Time-Life Book of Hearty Home Cooking)

Chocolate Pavlova with Mandarin Oranges

Sweet Potato Soup
A velvety-smooth soup accented with Thai seasonings. Delicious!

1 tablespoon canola or peanut oil
1 onion—chopped
3 cloves garlic—chopped
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1kg (4 cups) orange sweet potato—peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup red lentils
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

HEAT the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. ADD the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. ADD the garlic and red curry paste and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. ADD the sweet potato, red lentils, stock, coconut milk, fish sauce and brown sugar and bring to the boil. REDUCE the heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. REMOVE from the heat and allow to cool a little. PUREE the soup in two batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. RETURN to the saucepan and stir in the lemon juice. SERVE in bowls garnished with cilantro.

Variations: Replace the sweet potato with butternut squash (pumpkin); substitute the lemon juice with lime juice; and use yellow split peas rather than red lentils (in which case you'll need to cook for around 35 minutes).

Chicken Liver Timbales
I placed this recipe here, despite the minor disaster, because it tasted good and I will add to a future menu. Use non-stick molds!

For 4 servings, you will need:

2 eggs,
2 tbsp. Madeira, sherry, or 1 tsp. lemon juice,

For the roux:
4 tbsp. butter,
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour,
1/2 c. undiluted chicken broth,
1/2 c. milk,
1 tsp. dried thyme leaves,
1/4 tsp. salt.

Butter and bread crumbs for baking dishes (optional, if using non-stick molds)
Tomato Bearnaise (recipe follows)
Chopped chives Parsley and tomato wedges for garnish

Tomato Bearnaise: Into blender or food processor with steel blade, place
3 egg yolks,
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice,
1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, and
3 tablespoons tomato paste.

Process until blended. While blender or processor is on, slowly add
3/4 cup hot melted butter.

Sauce will be thin while hot, but it will thicken as it cools.

Clean chicken livers, removing any fat, tendons or discolored portions. Place into blender or food processor with steel blade in place. Process until smooth. Add eggs, Madeira, or lemon juice. Set aside. In saucepan, melt butter. Blend in flour. Cook 1 minute. Slowly add chicken broth and milk. Cook until very thick and smooth. Add the thyme and salt. Blend sauce into chicken liver mixture. Press mixture through strainer and divide among 4 custard cups that have been buttered and sprinkled with crumbs.

Place cups into shallow pan with inch boiling water. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or just until a knife inserted in the center of a custard comes out clean. Meanwhile, prepare Tomato Bearnaise. To serve, unmold Timbales onto individual serving dishes. Spoon on the sauce and sprinkle with chopped chives. Garnish with parsley and tomato wedges. Serve hot.

Chocolate Pavlova
The Chocolate Pavlova was very good. I omitted the chopped bittersweet chocolate because I thought it would be too heavy a dessert and I doubled the amount of whipping cream. It turned out good with the orange segments. But, next time I will add bittersweet chocolate chips and Cointreau to the whipping cream. Alternatively, I could add mint to the chocolate meringue and use strawberries for the fruit. Or, sprinkle the whipped cream with banana chips, add some rum and drizzle with caramel sauce. What else...