woensdag 1 juni 2011

Lime ginger scallops, Ginger asparagus with cashews and Coconut 'panna cotta'

When I was invited for scallops and prawns- I couldn't have been happier- but I was also quite intrigued, since I have never before cooked or even eaten scallops! The host is a California 'girl' (she will love me for that- but really, we are all young at heart!) with Italian roots and also happens to be a great cook!
I offered to make dessert-, which was rather a challenge because it had to be a low-carb dish! One of the guests was following the infamous Atkins diet. What ? A low carb dessert where even fruit is taboo. How's that possible? I put my thinking cap on and came up with a panna cotta made with coconut milk and buttermilk. I used very little sugar- the barest minimum, and combined coconut milk with buttermilk for a nice fresh, light taste.
We had a brilliant evening. We did a bit of prep. work beforehand, the cooking itself was very quick and we were soon enjoying a delicious feast! It all seemed very luxurious! Scallops, prawns, asparagus, coconut milk....mmmm

This was our menu:
Prawns, with a hot and spicy dipping sauce
Lime ginger scallop sauté (the recipe serves 2 so double up as you wish)
Ginger asparagus with cashews (serves 4)
Coconut 'panna cotta'

Lime ginger scallop sauté
For the Scallops (serves 2)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound sea scallops, patted dry
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 tablespoons Lime Ginger Butter (recipe follows), chilled
1/3 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
For the Lime Ginger Butter
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoon grated lime zest
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add the scallops and stir until golden, about 2 minutes. Pour off the fat.
2. Stir in the lime juice and cook 1 minute. Lower the heat and stir in the Lime Ginger Butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Cook just until a thick sauce forms. Stir in the walnuts, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.
Lime Ginger Butter Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Shape into a cylinder 2.5 inches in diameter, and wrap in foil or plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Makes: About 5 tablespoons

Ginger asparagus with cashews.

1 tablespoon peanut or safflower oil
1 pound asparagus about 16, halved
1/2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
1/2 cup chopped cashews, toasted in a dry skillet
Grated zest of one unwaxed orange
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Serves four
Heat the oil in a wok, add the asparagus and ginger and stir-fry for 4 minutes.
Add the cashews, orange zest, soy sauce and sesame oil and continue cooking for one minute. Transfer to warm plates and serve immediately.

We actually added some courgette, which also worked well.
This combined great with a lovely fresh salad and the prawns with was served with a delicious home-made spicy, dipping sauce. It was divine.

Coconut-buttermilk 'panna cotta'
Of course not a true 'panna cotta', which actually means'cooked cream', but a much lighter version of the Italian classic.

400ml coconut milk (I used Fair trade)
250ml buttermilk (I used Arla organic buttermilk)
30- 40gr palm sugar- the pale kind (30 is the barest minimun)
4 gelatine sheets
1 vanilla pod (I used one Indonesian vanilla)
3 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 tbsp brown sugar
optional sauce for serving see below.

Heat the coconut milk in a pan. Add sugar and vanilla pod (scrape out the inside).
Do not boil; we don’t want to risk curdling the milk. Allow to ‘just’ reach simmering point. Let the vanilla seep for more flavour, I'm afraid I was out of time so to be fair I can't judge the quality of the Indonesian vanilla based on this dish.
Soak the gelatine in the buttermilk for 10 minutes.
Cool the coconut milk slightly, romove the pod and add the gelatine one at a time mixing (or whisking) thoroughly.
Add the buttermilk and stir well. Pour in the dishes. I made 8 small desserts.
Cool and place in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
Toast the coconut in a dry pan. Add brown sugar.
Sprinkle this mix over the 'panna cotta'.

For a bit of extra taste (for those not following the Atkins diet):
I thought the dessert was lacking somewhat- especially because I had keep the sweetness down. I dissolved 2 tbsp. sugar in a little boiling water, allowed to cool befire adding 2 tbsp. Malibu. This time I turned out the dessert, (by carefully running a knife around the edge and turn upside down)
Pour the Malibu mix over the dessert before sprinkling with coconut/sugar. Enjoy.