As some of you may know I am lucky to be part of a team of awesome food bloggers led by Natasha (Five Star Foodie) and Lazaro (Lazaro Cooks) who are given a theme each month to create an exciting recipe from scratch. This month is a continuation of the 5 star makeover group's restaurant wars challenge with my teammates Alisha (The Ardent Epicure) and Marisa (The Cook's Book). We came up with a tropical themed restaurant with a menu inspired by the central ingredient, mango. We mashed our names together and came up with the restaurant name Marishky. We were each assigned either the appetizer, main course or dessert course. Luckily I landed the dessert course, an area I just started getting used to in the past year since my specialty was once simply savory dishes.
I decided to add a bit of savory into my dessert by making the pomegranate gelee a bit more interesting with the addition of chives as well as honey poached radishes. The mango gelee has an elegant spice infused after taste from the chai tea. The raspberry quinoa cakes have a subtle flavor and interesting texture to balance out the softness from the gelees and raspberry sauce. Agar agar was used in this recipe so it is very much vegan, and the quinoa cakes just happen to be gluten free.
The sprinkle of chives and addition of candied almonds bring out even more interesting flavors that will keep you smiling, wondering how all of those crazy ingredients came together so effortlessly. It was my first time using agar agar and still have to get used to working with it, but I've got plenty left over to invent some more crazy tiered desserts. Enjoy!
Mango Chai & Pomegranate Chive Gelees w/ Honey Poached Radish on Raspberry Quinoa Cakes
Mango Chai Gelee
1 whole ripe mango, peeled, diced
2 teaspoons of agar agar flakes
2 individual chai tea bags
2 cups of boiled water
1/4 cup of sugar
Place tea bags in water and let sit for 5-7 minutes. Remove bags and place liquid into a small sauce pan adding sugar and agar agar. Place flame on medium heat bringing to a boil and allowing to simmer for 15 minutes.
While liquid simmers, prepare mango, and place in a blender with just enough water to puree the mango. Not too liquidy, you don't want to lose flavor, just enough to get it going. Set aside.
After the 15 minutes are up, add mango puree, whisk until well combined, then place in a 9x9 pan in refrigerator for 15+ minutes until it has set.
Pomegranate Chive Gelee
seeds from 1/4 pomegranate
1 1/2 teapoons of agar agar flakes
1 cup of boiled water
1/2 tablespoon of minced chives
3/4 tablespoon of honey
Place pomegranate seeds in boiled water for 5 minutes. Then place mixture into a small sauce pan on medium low with honey and agar agar for 8 minutes.
Turn off heat, add minced chives and place mixture into a small Tupperware container and refrigerate for 15+ minutes until mixture sets.
Honey Poached Radish
1 large radish thin sliced
enough water to just cover radishes in a small pan
1 tablespoon of honey
squeeze of lemon juice
Place sliced radishes, water and honey in a small pan and bring to a boil, let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes or until the radishes are cooked but still have a crunch to them. Strain, squeeze lemon juice, toss and refrigerate.
Raspberry Quinoa Crackers
1/4 cup of raspberry sauce *see recipe below
1 cup of cooked quinoa
1/3 cup of flaxseed meal
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine quinoa, flaxseed meal, coconut flakes and brown sugar until well combined. Proceed to add raspberry sauce and an extra pat of flaxseed meal if it is too moist. Mold into 1/2 inch thick cakes and place on a greased metal sheet tray. Cook for 10 minutes on each side, then turn off the oven, and leave the door slightly open to let them stale up a bit but be careful so that they don't burn on the edges. Leave until they are crisp, 5-8 minutes and remove.
1 cup of raspberries
1/2 cup of water
squeeze of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of honey
1 1/2 teaspoons of agar agar flakes
Combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor until pureed. Use some for the quinoa crackers, then place the rest in a small sauce pan with the agar agar on medium low heat for 8 minutes. Remove from stove place and place in an open Tupperware container and refrigerate. Some will be used to pour over the finished dessert, the rest will take a bit longer to set but feel free to eat the remainder or find a creative use for it.
1/2 cup of chopped almonds
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of water
Bring sugar, water and cinnamon to a boil in a small sauce pan then proceed to add chopped almonds. Mix with a rubber spatula then lower heat to medium. When all the liquid has evaporated you will have very sticky almonds.
Remove from heat and spread onto a metal sheet tray and let cool. When ready remove with a flat end metal spatula and break apart.
**Hot sugar melts skin, be careful, try not to let the mixture splatter.