Saturday, February 18, 2012

East Meets Delicious

Once again, I'm throwing my hat in the ring for a Marx Foods contest. This time I was required to make two dishes and use at least four ingredients.

Well, okay, I can do that. Easy peasy, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

Voting is now LIVE on this contest! If you could go over here and vote for Cookistry, I'd be appreciate it. Even if I don't win, it makes me happy to see a decent number of votes come my way.

Meanwhile, this is how it all played out in my kitchen.

After pairing ingredients and coming up with a few recipes, it all kind of went sideways. I had it in my head that I was supposed to make 2 courses, but completely missed that it was supposed to be appetizer and main dish. So you're getting a dessert as well.

But that's okay - it's a good dessert, and I had plenty of other ingredients to play with.

The ingredients I chose to use were (clockwise from the top):
Mochi rice
Maitake mushrooms
Millet
Adzuki beans
Dried star fruit

I didn't use the hijiki, which is a seaweedy shredded product. That's the item in the center of the plate.

So I used five ingredients, total, and I shuffled them around so I used at least two ingredients in each course.

Let the games begin!









Appetizer

Maitake and Goat Cheese Crostini

Cheese and mushrooms combine on a millet studded bread for a nice starter for your meal. Of course I made the bread from scratch. Texturally, the millet nearly disappears inside the bread, but the crust has a bumpy surface.

Millet Bread

When I was a kid, we lived in an apartment, so we couldn't have dogs or cats. Instead we had birds and fish. Millet is a typical component in birdseed mixes for canaries and parakeets, and I remember getting long stalks of millet as a "treat" for our feathered friends.

Most recently, I found out that millet is the filling in a microwavable neck pillow - meant to ease sore muscles - that I bought at a craft fair.

This was the first time I ever cooked millet, though. I considered using it in a salad or pilaf, but I wanted to make bread for this course, and the slightly nutty flavor of the millet seemed like a good addition to bread.

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup cooked millet
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup water

I cooked the millet in my rice cooker, and it looked sort of like miniature popcorn when it was done.

To make the dough, chuck everything into your bread machine in the order the manufacturer recommends and set it for whatever kneading-only cycle works best for you.

When the dough is ready, flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Knead it briefly, then divide it in half. Form each half into logs about 12 inches long and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or sprinkled with cornmeal - or if you have one, use a perforated baguette or French bread pan.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled - about 30 minutes (depending on how warm it is when it comes out of your bread machine.)

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

When the dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and bake until it's nicely browned, about 25 minutes.

Let the bread cool on a wire rack before slicing.

Mushroom Topping

This makes a conservative amount of topping - you can certainly make more. How many crostini you'll get from this depends on how generous you are with the topping.

1/4 cup dried maitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes or so, until they soften. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, and a pinch of salt and saute until the mushrooms soften and become translucent.

Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan. Cook, stirring as needed, until the mushrooms brown a bit on the edges. Add more salt and pepper, as needed. If the mixture seems dry, add a splash more of olive oil.

Assembly

Slice the bread into thin rounds and toast it slightly. While it's still warm, spread it with a thin layer of goat cheese (chevre), then top with the mushroom mixture. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Main Dish

Chicken and Adzuki Salad

This salad can be served chilled, room temperature, or warm. I poached chicken specifically for this dish, but you can use left over roasted chicken, if you prefer. Served chilled, this makes a nice, light meal, and a few slices of millet bread goes well with it.

Warmed, this salad makes a great filling for tacos or makes a heartier meal served over rice.

This is the kind of recipe where exact measurements aren't critical. Add more chicken, more beans, whatever looks right to you at the time, In the summer, I'd probably add some fresh tomatoes.

1 cup cooked adzuki beans
1 chicken breast, cooked and cut in 1/2 inch dice
1 roasted red bell pepper, peeled, seeded, and cored, cut in a large dice
1/2 cup edemame, cooked
4 pieces dried start fruit, diced
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons yuzu juice
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all the ingredients. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed. Add more cayenne, if you want a little more heat.

The start fruit starts off with a bit of a chew to it, and it adds a nice sweetness that contrasts well with the yuzu juice and the cayenne. After an overnight rest in the fridge, the star fruit softens quite a bit, but retains its sweetness.

Dessert

Rice Pudding

I've been looking for the ultimate rice pudding recipe for a long time. This may be it. I prefer this type of pudding chilled, but some folks like it warm. It's your choice. The grated star fruit adds a citrus-like note to the pudding - a little different than the typical cinnamon or nutmeg.

1/2 cup cream
3 cups milk, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cups (uncooked) mochi rice, cooked
Dried star fruit, as needed

Combine the cream, 2 cups of milk, cornstarch, eggs, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Whisk to combine. Heat on medium, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble a bit. Add the cooked rice, vanilla, and the remaining cup of milk. Stir to combine.

Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until fully chilled. If it is too thick for your taste, add more milk (or cream, if you're feeling decadent) prior to serving.

Serve topped with finely grated star fruit (I used a microplane).

For the purposes of this contest Marx Foods sent us samples amounts of the ingredients we were expected to use.

I had more cooked millet than I needed for the bread I made for this contest, so I used to to make some cookies.

They worked really well paired with the rice pudding, but this post was already waaaaaayyyy too long, so they're in the next post. Check 'em out.

The photo at the right is a little preview, just to get you hungry.

The bread in this post has been submitted to Yeastspotting.
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