Foodiva's Kitchen: Battle Strategy: Cucumber-Mascarpone, Lemongrass Chicken and Potato-Capsicum Tower with Black Pepper-Lime Dressing

Monday, August 2, 2010

Battle Strategy: Cucumber-Mascarpone, Lemongrass Chicken and Potato-Capsicum Tower with Black Pepper-Lime Dressing

Vote for ME!

As soon as I found out last week that I was to compete in the next Foodie Fights battle, I went searching for my dusty Battle Cap, already long ago discarded to a distant corner of my memory. Preparing to go into battle, I was reminded of the heart of the message contained in Sun Tzu’s Art of War – “To thine own self be true”. Hell, I even own a ring bought from The Barber’s Daughter that depicts this phrase, so convinced was I that Shakespeare had penned this line just for me! Whatever. I shall be true to myself and push the envelope for this battle.

After having a rather restless night, I started strategizing about what dish I was going to push forward to the frontline. The two ingredients that are a must: Cucumber and Black Pepper. Cool and hot. The two extremes, so far so good.

Whipped out my notebook and began brainstorming up something I’ve never made before (and hopefully, have never been made by anybody else, although I would never really know. Even Google has its limitations!). This process is called “Learning how to make a meal without looking at a cookbook". LOL. 

After working the chemistry out in my head, I’d decided on a Smörgåsbord of flavors packaged into a deliciously comforting appetizer called (brace yourself!) : Cucumber-Mascarpone, Lemongrass Chicken and Potato-Capsicum Tower with Black Pepper-Lime Dressing. A mouthful certainly, but I really wanted to showcase the main ingredients in it!

  The star players.

Cucumber-Mascarpone, Lemongrass Chicken and Potato-Capsicum Tower with Black Pepper-Lime Dressing
Makes: 16 “Towers”

Cucumber-Mascarpone Layer
1 cucumber
1 teaspoon salt
125g Mascarpone cheese
1 egg-white

Lemongrass-Chicken Layer
3 pieces boneless chicken breasts, sliced
2 sticks lemongrass, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Potato-Capsicum Layer
1 red pepper
4 medium potatoes
100g butter

Black Pepper-Lime Dressing
4 limes
2 tablespoons peppercorns, cracked
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

This is a relatively easy and tasty appetizer to make and truthfully, it really helps if you’re organized and seasoned at the biz of multitasking. I say this not to put you off but the preparation process for the three layers are staggered and everything only comes together at the end for the baking part. This is the order of the baking process: Lemongrass chicken first, Potato layer second, then all three layers together. Hope you’re still with me! *grins*

First things first - preheat the oven to 200°C, then prepare the layers as follows:

Lemongrass-Chicken Layer
1. Place the chicken meat, carrots, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, egg and olive oil in a food processor and mix until it becomes a paste. Season with salt and pepper and process further. (Note: For the lemongrass, slice thinly towards the root end and discard the green leafy end).
2. Press a tablespoonful of the mixture into the bottom of a muffin cup and push down lightly to flatten. Cook the chicken patties in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.
3. Turn the patties out of the muffin tray, set aside and go cook the potato layer.

Lemongrass-Chicken patties, good enough to eat on their own. That lemongrass flavor is so seductive, the chicken has no choice but to feel (and taste) sexy around it!

Capsicum-Potato Layer
1. Roast the capsicum under a hot grill/broiler until the skin chars and splits. Let it cool slightly, then peel off skin and dice the capsicum.
2. Peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and boil until cooked. Drain the water and place the potatoes in a bowl.
3. Add the butter and diced capsicum to the potatoes and blend everything together with a potato-masher. There will still be chunky bits of capsicum in there, and that’s ok, it’s part of the masterplan.*winks*
4. Press a tablespoonful of the potato-capsicum layer into the bottom of a muffin cup and bake for 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven, place a chicken patty on top of the potato layer and set aside while you prepare the last stage which is the cucumber layer.

The act of mashing was good, cheap therapy. I thought of all the people who'd ever been rude to me and oh, how wonderful it would be to just squish them like so!

Cucumber-Mascarpone Layer
1. Peel the cucumber and slice into thin strips along its length, discard seedy core. My favourite way to produce these thin strips is to use a potato peeler. Add salt to the cucumber and leave in a bowl for 15 minutes to draw the moisture out. Squeeze cucumber, drain the water and set aside. (Do this part while the potatoes are boiling and the chicken patties are in the oven – Multitasking, see?).
2. Just before baking, beat the Mascarpone lightly to soften it. In another bowl, whisk the egg-white into stiff peaks and fold gently into the Mascarpone.
3. Take the muffin tray with the potato and chicken patty layer already in it and place a few strips of cucumber on top of the patty. Spoon the Mascarpone mixture on top of the cucumber julienne and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and puffy. Leave in the tray to cool for 10 minutes before turning out carefully. Serve with black pepper-lime dressing to bring out the different flavours.

Black Pepper-Lime Dressing
1. Squeeze lime juice into a small bowl. Add olive oil and salt.
2. Crack black peppercorns in a grinder or using a pestle and mortar. Add this to the lime dressing and drizzle over the cooked "tower" just before serving.

Cracked black peppercorns in a tangy lime-olive oil dressing. Sizzle, Crackle and Zinggggg!

Oh, you're still here? Thought I'd lost you at the first layer! Anyway, you can serve and enjoy the dish like this but if you're a masochist like me, then you'll go on and make the phyllo "wings" to embrace this dish. It's easy, just take a sheet of phyllo pastry and rub olive oil on both sides. Cut into 1-inch wide strips and drape into the muffin cups (below). Bake at 200°C for about a minute, keep an eye as it burns fast!

Carefully insert a tower in between the wing, garnish with some more cucumber strips and finally drizzle some dressing on top.

PS. Hope you enjoyed the post, and apologies if it was starting to read like an epic. I wanted you to feel the pain. LOL! Don't forget to go to Foodie Fights and vote for me... Heart ya!


Indonesia-Eats said...

I like how you illustrate your notebook here.

Subterfuge Diva said...

LOL, thanks. That was doodling at the breakfast table on Sunday morning! The rest of the familia was not pleased... The dish turned out ok, but not as crisp as the drawing, unfortunately. Btw, congrats on making the Top 9 with your wonderful es cucumber lime juice. I was so inspired that I went and made two tropical drinks today! Thank you.

Peggy said...

Definitely an interesting and creative appetizer! Good luck!

Subterfuge Diva said...

Hey, thanks very much, Peggy! It tastes divine too, the flavors all work well together... I'm shocked! LOL.

Angela said...

Thanks for sharing so much of your process with us. I like the way you suggested dividing the tasks. Good luck!

Subterfuge Diva said...

Hi Angela, thanks for visiting and for your kind comments! I hope my tips would be useful for someone out there, especially beginner cooks (like my daughter, who's 13, and reads this blog. Haha). Even if I don't win this battle, it was a whole lot of fun making this!

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