Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Red Dragon Vanilla Dessert

Wow… what am I doing here. Is it still my page? I almost forgot my password already...

I don’t know if I have been too busy dilly- dallying in the field or cooking with brats or cramming for a research deadline, or getting nagged by the real estate broker's call at bedtime to process stacks and stacks of papers - that I just forgot this page and the Chinese New Year was over and it is almost Valentine’s Day and still I have no post. Whew! Or even thanking the very generous Zen Chef that, yessssir! – the Food Huntress has received the vanilla giveaway package already. Thank you, thank you. The world was on time- and I wasn’t!

The Food Huntress still can’t believe that this is what she got for just a little story sponsored by the Zen- man last month: vanilla beans, vanilla extract, vanilla sugar, and yes, that caveman photo of the Zen Chef- and a very nice surprise. To all fans of Zen Chef, a most delightful proof that your Zen Chef is… zen.

But way before this blog entry was written, in my excitement together with a pack of jubilant cooking brats, I already harassed the vanilla beans – a few pods had gone into chocolate fudge, vanilla coffee, custards, a few versions of fruit desserts. Now to make these things all relevant to each other, the Food Huntress whipped up a dessert that actually is already a little too cold for the Chinese New Year, yet still quite fresh for Valentine’s Day - but most of all, has a story of its own.

I should even call it “recycled recipe” because it is not originally intended for this post but for a picnic in the field that I had with a friend last weekend where we dragged a heavy cooler so that the ice cream won’t melt. Oh well! And since my friend thought it was really good and that it has the characteristics of a romantic dessert (I thought being all- red and sweet and stuff like that), then I reckon it is suitable for the romance- suckers that is undeniably innate in each one of us. (And actually because I was really floored by my hectic schedule for the week, the creative juices for cooking are not cooperating anymore.)

Inspired by the compote recipes by Kate Zuckerman from the cookbook “The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle” (also included in Zen Chef’s package. You’re too kind, Mr. Zen- man!!) this multicultural dessert brings to the plate a little piece of the world’s sweetness.

Local fresh strawberries from Benguet in the Mountain Province. Dragon fruit- memory of my brief study trip to the dragon land of Chairman Mao- which I smuggled together with nectarines, plums and kiat mandarin oranges (I was waiting for the Chinese authorities to drag me in hand cuffs or throw my luggage from the airplane window- but they didn’t). Cashew nuts from the wild, pseudo- virginal forests of Palawan. Nice, refined sugar from the fields of Negros (though at times associated with child- labor). Coco nectar vinegar from Bicol- indigenous alternative to Madeira. The vanilla pods – from the forests of Madagascar, Mexico,Uganda to a gourmet store in France, were flown all the way from New York to Southeast Asia. And, vanilla ice cream from a blood- sucking multinational company.

Strawberry and Dragon Fruit Compote with Vanilla Ice Cream
(Good for 2)

About 200 grams fresh strawberries
1 pc dragon fruit
¼ cup roasted cashews, chopped coarsely
½ vanilla pod
2 T coco nectar vinegar with raw wild honey
2 T sugar
1 scoop vanilla ice cream

1. Scrape out the seeds from a vanilla pod using a sharp paring knife.
2. In a saucepan, combine strawberries, vinegar and sugar. Bring to full boil, stirring once in a while.
3. After 10 minutes, pick the largest strawberries, pass through a sieve to squeeze out the “blood”.
4. Return strawberry juice into the pan and simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Meanwhile, cut a quarter of the dragon fruit. Slice into ¼ inch thickness.
6. Drop the dragon fruit slices into the strawberry mixture and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir. (The dragon fruit has a mild taste of its own. I suggest that it should not be masked by the strong flavor of strawberry). Let cool, then chill.
7. When chilled, pour into a bowl (or compote plate) and add the cashews. Or, top with vanilla ice cream and add the cashews.

Not designed for a dragon of an emperor and definitely not too bloody… It’s good : )

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! : )


Anonymous said...

How generous of you to share with the world Zen-the caveman's infamous picture. Hahaha.
I'm glad you're putting the vanilla to good use. The red dragon dessert looks delicious!!
Tell the friend with whom you're having picnics in the field that he's a lucky bastard. ;-)

foodhuntress79 said...

Hello, Zen! Thank you. No comment on the lucky bastard- Hahaha! The vanilla beans can transform indeed - it doesn't tame - but the other way around :)