The Ardent Epicure

An Ode to the Pleasures of Food

Crispy Polenta and Black Bean Cakes
 with Herb Flower and Pineapple Mint Pesto
and Coconut Crusted Mango Fries

The "Virtual Restaurant " Marishky is celebrating it's Grand Opening and
serving up some Mango delights. Along with a few other goodies :)

Some of you may remember last month when we posted a teaser for this
month 5 Star Cooking Challenge...Hosted by Natasha of 5 Star Foodie
and Lazaro of Lazaro Cooks.

 Our theme for this month was
"Restaurant Wars". We were grouped up into teams of three, then given
the task to come up with a theme for our Virtual Restaurant
and/or an ingredient theme.

Along with my team members Marisa of Cook's Book and Kym of
Free Spirit Eater. We were each given the task of preparing a dish based on
 our chosen theme. Marisa would be serving up the appetizer, while Kym would
 be dishing up the dessert, leaving me to prepare the main course.
So please stop over for a visit and see what tasty delights my team
members have come up with.

I chose to do not one, but two different crispy cakes...
Then to heighten out tropical feel just a tad, we are drizzling these cakes
with an edible herb flower and pineapple mint pesto. The pesto has an add
of both fresh as well as candied ginger, giving it a slightly sweet but spicy notes.

Now to highlight our chosen ingredient, we are going to add mango nectar
to both the pesto as well as the black bean cakes. But we are not
stopping there, after all it is our "Theme Ingredient"! So my friends
we have created an additional dish to go along with our crispy
cakes, in the form of Mango Fries!

What you will need:

For the black bean cakes
2 cups dry black beans, soaked
4 gloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large portabella mushroom, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon mango nectar
1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying

For the polenta cakes
36 ounces water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper, crushed
1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil for frying

For the pesto
1/2 cup pineapple mint
1/2 cup edible herb flowers
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon candied ginger
1/2 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1-2 tablespoons mango nectar
Sunflower oil

For the baked mango fries
2 large ripe magoes
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup coconut flour
1 cup unsweetened dried coconut, shredded

*Note: Both the black beans and polenta can be made ahead and
stored in the refrigerator overnight. 

Let's get cooking:
For the black bean cakes
Begin by preparing your beans that have been soaked overnight. Place beans
in a medium sized covered with water. Bring to a boil the reduce heat, simmer
covered on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, or until tender.

Once beans are done, place in a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. In
 the meantime lightly sauté garlic until translucent.

Lightly mash beans then add shredded portabella, garlic and spices.
Slowly add mango nectar a bit at a time, mixing until incorporated.
Lay bean mixture out on a board or flat surface covered with parchment.
Mold mixture into a flat rectangle about 1/4 inch deep.

Using a pastry or cookie cutter, cut into desired shapes. In a frying pan
place a small amount of oil until hot. Fry over medium/high heat
on each side until crisp.

For the polenta cakes
Bring water and salt to a rapid boil over high heat. Reduce heat to
medium/low until water comes to a simmer. Slowly add cornmeal while
a small amount at a time, continually stirring. Continue to simmer, stirring
frequently for about 30 minutes, or until you have a thick semi firm
consistency. The polenta should easily pull away from the sides
of the pan when done.

Fold in chopped sage and cracked pepper until incorporated.
Place slightly cooled polenta on a board or flat surface covered with
parchment. Mold mixture into a flat rectangle about 1/4 inch deep.

Doing the same as with the black bean cakes, cut into shapes,
then fry in a small amount of oil until crisp.

For the pesto
Place sunflower seeds in a small food processor, pulsing a few times
until coarsely ground. Add edible flowers, ginger and mango nectar
again pulsing to incorporate. Slowly add sunflower oil in a steady
stream until you have reached desired consistency.

For the baked mango fries
Slice mango into long strips. Place eggs, flour and coconut into
3 separate bowls. Dredge mango slices through the flower,
shaking off any excess. Now into the egg, again shaking off
excess. Then coat with shredded coconut.

Place crusted mango slices onto a prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, or until coconut
is slightly browned and crispy.

Serves 4

Alisha~Magic of Spice

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