Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Book Seventeen: Stacks - The Art of Vertical Food by Deborah Fabricant

Recipe: Spinach, Mango, and Goat Cheese Stacks

Do you remember when vertical food was all the rage a few years - ok, many years back? It must have been eight to ten years ago when I purchased this book and this is the first dish I have made.

All the photos in the book look so fun to make. However to have all the right size and shapes of the molds would cost a fortune! I ran down to my local restaurant supply warehouse to grab a few for this salad and was shocked to find they wanted close to eight bucks each. And in my way of thinking I would need at the very least, eight of them; just in case I wanted to make this for a dinner party or something. So instead I bought two cans of mandarin orange slices. I have an electric can opener that removes the lids without the jagged edges. All you need to do is remove the top and bottom of the can and viola! Two molds for only seventy nine cents each! How's that for frugality?!

The molds I used are approximately 3 1/4 x 2 7/8. They held way more than I thought they would. After collapsing the salad, half my dinner plate was covered. You could easily go with a smaller ring for a side salad, or serve the larger as a main course salad. I would also suggest using less goat cheese for I thought it was a tad too much, and I love goat cheese. As for the Mango Vinaigrette I was a bit wary of the flavor (not a fan of rice wine vinegar), until it was incorporated with the salad and everything came together nicely. Though when I come across another dressing recipe or make this one again, I'll switch out the rice wine vinegar and use a champagne vinegar instead. I also think that keeping the spinach leaves whole, rather than chopping them, would make for a cleaner presentation.

Success meter (1-3): 3

(future food ring)

(compressing the components)

Spinach, Mango, and Goat Cheese Stacks
Serves 6

Planning Ahead:
This salad can be prepared 4 hours ahead.
The vinaigrette can be made the day before, covered, and chilled.

8 to 10 oz goat cheese, cut into ¼-inch slices (18 slices)
6 cups fresh spinach, washed, stemmed, dried, and chopped
3 fresh mangoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
½ cup sliced toasted almonds
½ cup dried cranberries or cherries
2/3 cup Mango Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Spray 6 stack cylinders with vegetable spray and place them on a sheet pan. Fit 1 ½ slices of goat cheese on the bottom of the cylinder, so that the cheese covers the bottom. Layer in the following order: ½ cup spinach, 2 Tbl. mango, 2 tsp. almonds, 2 tsp. cranberries, 1 ½ slices goat cheese. Repeat, ending with the almonds and cranberries. Press down firmly but gently and refrigerate 1 hour or longer (up to 4 hours).

To serve, slide a spatula under each stack cylinder and transfer to a serving plate. Unmold, drizzle with vinaigrette, sprinkle with any additional almonds, cranberries and diced mango and serve.

Mango Vinaigrette
Yield: 2 cups

1 mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 Tbl. honey mustard
1 Tbl. mango chutney
½ cup Japanese seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 Tbl. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ cup canola or light vegetable oil
2 tsp. poppy seeds

To make the vinaigrette, place the mango, mustard, chutney, vinegar, lime juice, and ginger in a food processor and blend until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the oil, blending until slightly thickened. Stir in the poppy seeds. Refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week.

Shortcut Stacks:
Replace the Mango Vinaigrette with Consorzio Mango Vinaigrette, available in most fine markets.

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