Who knew that eating tree leaves from the backyard would be such a popular and/or controversial topic, sparking lively conversation on social media? (We did. We totally predicted this would be a reaction-getter.) Did you miss the Part 1 post? Find it here and see what the buzz is about.
Last time we went leaf-peeping into the Drinks and Appetizer courses at our Foodie Group dinner party. Today let’s rake up a big pile of information about the Main Course and Dessert – and then take a running leap in to all that leafy goodness.
Here’s the evening’s menu, for your perusal:
- Drinks – Ellyn: Autumn Leaves cocktail; Assorted wines
- Appetizer – Kathleen and Karen: Heirloom Tomato Stacks with Crisped Autumn Leaves
- Main course – Ilise and Ann: Lamb Shanks Roasted in Oaxacan Red Mole Sauce – wrapped in banana leaves; Toasted Orzo with Roasted Peppers; Kabocha Squash and Kale Salad with Cranberries
- Dessert – Greg and Dan: Greg’s Apple Tart with Thyme Custard; Platter of leaf-garnished cheeses (Bellavitano Chai Tea; Bellavitano Herbes de Provence; Blue Valdeón)
If you’ve read this blog before you already know that I love to create musical playlists to complement the food posts.
Luckily for me, the Autumn Leaves theme makes it just too easy! The challenging part would be editing it down to a manageable size, so I simply refused to do it. Instead we have two Autumn Leaves playlists. More is more!
You may find the first playlist here – and please press the play arrow here to enjoy the Part 2 playlist.
Between them I’ve included two different jazzy versions of the song Autumn Leaves – which is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.
Yes, there are a million and one ingredients in the mole and it is time-consuming to make but the good news is it can be done a day ahead. Assembling the shanks-mole-banana leaf packets prior to roasting requires an assembly line approach but if you think of it as rolling burritos it’s not so bad. Banana leaves may be found in the freezer section of a well-stocked supermarket or a store catering to Hispanic and/or Caribbean clientele.
When considering the go-withs, we wanted something to soak up the yummy mole-lamb juices – and toasted orzo with assorted roasted chiles and sweet peppers fit the bill quite nicely. For a little green on the plate and some textural diversity we served a kale salad topped with roasted squash, red onion slivers, and vinegar-y cranberries. Sounds a little weird but I assure you, the colors are lovely and the salad is quite delicious. You may find the salad recipe – plus pictures and details – here.
Please click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
|Printable Recipe- Lamb Shanks in an Oaxacan Red Mole Sauce|
|File Size:||451 kb|
Recipe source: Patricia Satcoff via Food Network
For the mole sauce:
- 6 plum tomatoes, roasted in a 375 degree oven until blackened
- 2 garlic cloves, roasted
- Water, for consistency
- 3 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black peppercorns, toasted
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, toasted (Mexican preferred)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, toasted
- 8 ancho chiles
- 6 guajillo chiles
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 ounce Mexican chocolate
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 medium to large lamb foreshanks
- 1/4 cup canola oil, for searing
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
- 4 (12-inch) square banana leaves (available in the frozen section of Mexican markets)
To prepare the mole sauce:
- In a blender or food processor, blend tomatoes and garlic cloves, adding water if necessary. Strain and set aside.
- In a spice grinder pulverize the sesame seeds, peppercorns, oregano and cinnamon; set aside.
- Make a lengthwise cut on 1 side of each ancho and guajillo chile and remove seeds. Put chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water, letting soak for 20 minutes or until soft.
- Place chiles and soaking water in a blender. Puree, strain and set aside.
- In a medium stockpot, heat 3 tablespoons of canola oil. Add the dried spices stirring continuously.
- Add the two purees and bring to a boil. Add the chocolate, sugar, and salt to taste; let simmer for about 20 minutes.
To prepare the lamb shanks:
- Season the lamb shanks with salt and in a hot skillet sear shanks in oil on all sides.
- In a bowl, dip each shank in mole sauce, sprinkle with some of the vinegar, chopped onion and salt, then wrap in a banana leaf and then in aluminum foil.
- Place shanks in a roasting pan and bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.
- Place shank on a plate and top with additional warm mole sauce.
Everyone knows that cheese is the perfect complement to a slice of apple pie. Well, Dan and Greg extended the leafy theme all the way to the cheese platter. One of the cheeses (Bellavitano Chai Tea pasteurized, from Wisconsin) was encrusted in tea leaves, one was pressed in herbs (Bellavitano Herbes de Provence, also from Wisconsin), and the blue cheese from Spain used to be wrapped in leaves but recent changes to US Customs rules require that they now only wrap the cheese in foil printed with a leaf image. That’s okay, we get the idea.
Take a look at the tart in process. Click on the photos to enlarge them and read the captions.
|Printable Recipe- Greg's Apple Tart with Thyme Custard|
|File Size:||561 kb|
Before we sign off, let’s take a quick trip in the Wayback Machine to see what the Foodies were up to this time last year. It was another luscious autumn meal – Dan and Greg were the hosts and the theme was Into the Woods. Read all about it here – Part 1 and Part 2 – including recipes for Wild Boar Braised in Madeira, Mushroom-Leek Soup, and Pasta with Chestnuts and Mushrooms.