The time has come to post the goods. I have been hanging on to this post for days now anxiously tweaking each and every word waiting for the day to arrive and it is finally here. When the box from MarxFoods was delivered and I opened it up and took a whiff I knew instantly what I was going to do. The list of ingredients are: dried Aji Panca Chiles, Bourbon Vanilla Beans, Fennel Pollen, Dried Wild Porcini Mushrooms, Tellicherry Peppercorns, Dulse Seaweed, Maple Sugar and Smoked Salt. Each ingredient on its own is fantastic but we, the contestants, need to use at least 3 of these little gems. I went ahead and used them all. Get comfortable this is going to be a long ride.
First thing that came to my mind was a barbecue sauce so I ground up the aji panca chile and the tellicherry peppercorns and added them to the maple sugar, the scraped out bourbon vanilla bean, the smoked salt and the fennel pollen.
A little water and I let it steep over a low flame until the flavors were fat and juicy, once everything was engorged I added a little corn starch to thicken it up and et voila my barbecue sauce was alive. Smoky, sweet, spicy and exotic.
Secondly I decided it would be tasty to make dulse pasta with a dulse pesto so that was whipped up in a jiffy. I rehydrated the dulse and added it to a basic pasta recipe you know egg and semolina flour. The pasta came out great with its dulse freckles and sweet and salty taste of the sea. I took some of the softened, moist and pureed dulse and added a little wasabi powder and sesame oil and the pesto was born. This dulse pasta with dulse pesto was going to be the perfect side to go with my collard green puree and grilled swordfish with my 5 ingredient bbq sauce. Lets call it Tellismoky Panca Sauce, or something like that, strong flavors all living happily together and mellowing each other out if you can believe it - swordfish, collard greens, dulse and my sauce - now thats a menage a trois but with 4 - kind of like swingers.
How could I stop there? I couldnt, so I slow poached some baby octopus and the dried porcini mushrooms in olive oil for about an hour and a half on super low heat.
When the octopus was tender like butter I served it and the mushrooms on top of some thin cucumber slices that were dusted in tellicherry peppercorns, fennel pollen and smoky salt and the whole thing was drizzled with some of the poaching oil and a dressing made from white vinegar and some of the maple sugar then over it all - a touch of aji panca chile powder.
An absolutely delicious first course and thats all I have to say about that one.
Sardines. I picked up some fresh sardines and they were screaming to be cured with the smoky salt so I said ok and I also added a sprinkle of aji panca chile that I powdered and some tellicherry peppercorns because I am fun like that.
These cured sardines were then lightly grilled and then served with grilled carrots and grilled green onion drizzled with good virgin olive oil.
Who needs to even tell you how good this was. The fishy goodness of fresh sardines is in love with the smoky salt and subtle yet sweet bites from the chile and the peppercorns, the carrots and the scallions, they were the icing on the cake. There shouldnt be any doubt that I am THE IRON FOODIE of 2010 but I cant do it without you.
Everything was "kid" approved, even with homework.
Oh wait, did I forget dessert, I dont think so. Pull up a spoon. Dulse ice cream with fennel pollen and maple sugar caramel and Aji Panca and bourbon vanilla bean sorbet with maple sugar syrup and smoky sea salt.
Creamy, potent and refreshing these desserts capped off a delicious journey of flavors, the fennel pollen added the right "tang" to the sultry seaweed while the smoky salt held hands with the aji panca and they both bathed happily in their caramels and syrups.
The only thing you need to do is decide which spoon to choose.
Since I didnt make one "signature" dish I guess I would have to say that the Tellismoky Panca Sauce would fit into this category - if I need to pick one, no wait, pick the baby octopus, no pick the sardines or the ice cream - no, pick them all. I am a true Iron Foodie - implementing all the ingredients creating unique and delicious dishes from start to finish, that is what you should really look at. Voting begins on December 7th on FoodieBlogRoll - so, if you are not a member yet you still have time to join.