Recipe Test Nest » Feature » Papaya, Mango, Pineapple
Papaya, Mango, Pineapple

I challenged myself with a few first’s in this dinner: 1st time making grouper, homemade dinner rolls, creamed spinach and a buckle (what is this you ask, see the buckle comments to learn more about it). My wonderful testers included the fabulous Joon Shin whose fantastic photos can be seen below. Barbara Anglisz and Nick Cordua brought their friend Ed Kohtio, who I’ve met a few times over superb dining for Barb and Nick’s birthday celebrations. My wonderful neighbor Scott Clegg attended as well as Kimberly Clark and Russ Hill.

Honey Vanilla Spitzer (4 Stars)

For some reason testers tasted a tinge of ginger in this drink, but there wasn’t. Hmmm. We agreed that the base flavor would be great to play with and overall the drink was bright. Some suggested tweaks is to add a little more lime/acid, lesson the honey as it was a little overpowering/rich and spice it up with some ginger (since they tasted it anyways) or nutmeg.

Arugula Salad with Pine Nuts and Manchego (3.5 Stars)

I pulled this from an Alice Waters cookbook, and you can also use shaved Parmesan but I had leftover cheese from the last dinner so I went with the manchego. The dressing was a little too subtle (red wine vinegar, salt, pepper and olive oil). Testers also wanted some contrast in texture other than just the pine nuts and suggested dried cherries or dates and then Russ suggested persimmons (which was actually an additional option from Alice as a variation). Russ then told us about a time when he unfortunately ate a pointy bottom orange persimmon that wasn’t ripe and it was one of the worst flavors he’s ever tasted. So if you add persimmons check out online how to know if its ripe.

Grouper with Red Pepper-Papaya Jam (Keep Jam, throw out the rest of the recipe)

We were all mixed on this recipe and I was quite disappointed as I was really excited about this recipe. Before I started doing this experiment last year I wasn’t adventurous enough to make anything other than Halibut in my home kitchen, so this was my first time working with Grouper and about my fourth time eating it. The panko took over the coconut and cashew. It would have been better to keep the skin on and grill it.  The Red Pepper-Papaya Jam however, was fantastic! It would be really yummy on grilled chicken, fish tacos, pork, sea bass and tuna.

Creamed Spinach (4.5 Stars)

While this might have been a little too heavy as a compliment for the grouper, it was a really good recipe on its own. It had great flavor, I used shallots instead of onions which were quite flavorful in it. It was also nice and light for creamed spinach. Scott said he would eat and eat and eat it. Another Alice Waters recipe, melt butter and caramelize onion before adding the spinach and cook until just wilted. Squeeze out the liquid and pour off from the pan and then add salt and 1/3 cup cream. Boil until cream has reduced and thickened. Add pepper to taste.

Homemade rolls (3 Stars)

There wasn’t anything wrong with these rolls, execution went well, the taste was great and the reviews were good. Edward said they reminded him of trips to New England…that might be one of the best compliments I’ve received. However, it was agreed that if I only wanted one 5 Star recipe in my collection that this was not it.

Mango-Pineapple Buckle (4 Stars)

In the same family of cobblers and crisps is the BUCKLE. I’ve never had a buckle before, so not only did this sound good but I love mango and pineapple so win-win. I learned that a buckle inverts everything (opposed to a cobbler with the fruit on bottom and cake on top) by having the cake on the bottom and the fruit on top. As it bakes, the fruit sinks to the bottom while the cake rises around the fruit, causing it to “buckle”. For some reason I didn’t like the pineapple in it, neither did Ed. The mango was too soft which I used the sweeter orange mangos rather than the harder red mangoes and I’d suggest using the red so that they don’t get too soft. One comment was that there was too much binder in it and that the separation of the cake on top and crunchier, like a cobbler, would be better. A buckle is cakeier. The recipe only called for 1 t. cinnamon but it came through strong, which we all liked. I think a mango-strawberry, or mango-blueberry fruit combo would be better than the pineapple. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is also needed with this dish, as the cake is richer than the typical cobbler.

4 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. Nicholas COrdua (July 21, 2011)

    I enjoyed the dinner very much. Next time a Prime Rib dinner would be perfect, along with a mushroom or thyme au jus. Save the fish!! :) Thanks again.

  2. Russ (July 21, 2011)

    This dinner was really great! I hope I can make it to many more tests.

    The hit of the evening for me was probably the jam on the grouper. I would like to try it as a garnish on other dishes. It was all tasty though. I actually really liked the salad. For me I think it was good that the dressing was subtle, since I enjoyed it and I usually don’t like vinaigrettes. I came away with lots of ideas to experiment on.

    Thanks for letting me help with the prep. I learned a couple new things and had a great time!

  3. Russ (July 21, 2011)

    Oh, and the fabulous smell of that buckle baking will stick with me for a long long time…

  4. Mary (January 5, 2012)

    I got a cookbook on old fashioned country desserts and they ha several buckle recipes in there. I only tried a few before I returned it to the library but one of them I tried was a chocolate, pear upside down cake. It was good but my family wasn’t fond of it.

    I have bad memories of creamed spinach but I should try it again. As always looks fabulous.

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