Saturday night I put together the most coherent menu I've ever made. Momma D requested that we make a meal for her and she belongs to a Gourmet club at her retirement community so the bar was set high. J and I wanted to make a meal that was over the top. It all started with the mango mousse recipe in Martha Stewart Living (the color issue). With a mango mousse and a macadamia nut crust, this was THE recipe. Light, refreshing and indulgent. It lived up to its promise of being extremely easy to make and crazy good. I am giving it its own entry but rest assured, its amazing. I decided to class it up a notch by making Nigella Lawson's macadamia nut brittle. This brittle is so easy I didn't use a recipe, I just roughly chopped macadamia nuts, melted sugar until it became a light amber and poured the sugar on top of the chopped nuts sitting on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don't worry about using a candy thermometer or any such nonsense, just melt the sugar and watch it like a hawk. If I were to do proportions it would be 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts to 1 cup of sugar.
So with the mango mousse tart as the centerpiece, I built a menu around that. With a tropical theme, I went Iron Chefish with macadamia nut crusted chicken breast with a mango-pineapple salsa. As a side dish, I would make a napa cabbage slaw with a sesame dressing. I got my inspiration from Cafe Asia's divine Asian coleslaw. And in a huge bit of inspiration from Kylie Kwong, I made Asian brined cucumber. The true fun of the evening was actually PLATING the meal. I am fairly indifferent about presentation but Saturday night, I went all out. I used our nice square Asian plates and matching napkins. For once, the food looked as good as it tasted.
Here's the recipes:
Macadamia Crusted Chicken with Pineapple-Mango salsa
6 Chicken breasts pounded (you can find pre-pounded ones at Whole Foods)
2 cups of homemade breadcrumbs (it makes for a coarser crumb)
1 cup ground macadamia nuts
Mix breadcrumbs and ground nuts in a bowl. Dredge chicken breasts in the egg and then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture. Let site for 5 minutes. Heat up a skillet with thin layer of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, pan fry the chicken for 3 minutes a side. Don't worry about not cooking it through. Place the cooked chicken on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.
Pineapple mango salsa
1 cup of chopped FRESH pineapple (I have to be a purist about that)
1 cup of chopped fresh mango
2 finely diced jalepeno
1 scallion finely chopped
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chili paste
1 clove of garlic, minced
Throw everything into a bowl and mix. Let sit for at least a half an hour.
Asian Salad with Sesame Dressing
1 head of Napa cabbage finely shredded
2 large carrots, grated
1 scallion, chopped
For the dressing
1/2 cup of tahini
1/4 cup of peanut butter
1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar (or lime juice)
2 tablespoons sweet Thai Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce or fish sauce
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/4 cup of vegetable or peanut oil
1/4 cup of water
2 tablespoons of chopped ginger
3 cloves of garlic
Throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth. Add more water if the texture is too thick. Toss with the vegetables.
Asian Brined Cucumber
1 English hothouse cucumber with the seeds scooped out (just a preference as I hate seeds), thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons of rice wine
Throw everything into a bowl and toss together until sugar and salt dissolves. Let sit for at least 15 minutes and then pour out the liquid (actually the liquid with some peanut oil is a great salad dressing)