Banana salsa – a foodie challenge

After My last recipe I got a tweet through about recipes which come in dreams:20130323-104728.jpg

A moment later another tweet pinged up with a photo of the salsa attempt:

20130323-105513.jpg

Naturally, I took this as a challenge!

My first thought was that over-ripe browning bananas would be too sweet. To make a good go of a banana salsa they would need to be as green as possible. Green bananas have a grassy flavor and the near-crunchy texture that holds together when mixed in with other ingredients. I didn’t want a mushy compote job. To avoid this, It’s a good idea to chop everything fairly roughly and combine it gently.
The salsa actually turned out very nicely and, served alongside a griddled chicken breast in a satay-style sauce, was delicious. If you’re a veggie you could do the same sauce with some griddled aubergine, quartered lengthways. The banana gives the salsa a bit of substance and the pistachios shake up the texture a bit. The citrus, chilli and herbs brighten it up and avoid the inevitable comparison with that most disappointing of deserts – the fruit salad (which I’m pleased to say even my mother has realised is an inappropriate ‘treat’).

Recipe:

20130323-115451.jpg

Banana Salsa
Three green bananas
One pink grapefruit
Pineapple (fresh or tinned) about five rings
One green pepper finely chopped
One red chilli
One green chilli
Handful of pistachios – shelled and roughly chopped
Large handful of coriander
One lime
Tsp sugar
Salt to taste

– Chop all ingredients roughly and combine in a bowl with the juice of the lime, the sugar and salt. Mix together. Salsa!

Satay-Style Sauce
Chicken stock
One tbsp peanut butter
Half tbsp light soy sauce
One tbsp sweet chilli sauce
Two tsp dark soy sauce
Half tbsp rice wine vinegar
One tbsp chilli bean paste (optional)

– Bring 100-200ml stock to the boil and add all other ingredients. Let it simmer and reduce whilst you griddle your chicken breast (or quartered aubergine). You can add a little cornflour if you want to thicken it but make sure you cook it out. Sauce!

Whap it all on a plate, perhaps with couscous or rice, et voila!

20130323-115415.jpg

I hope this meets the challenge and you enjoy it as much as we did!

Till next time!

R

Marmalade curried beef (this is not a typo)

This week’s recipe comes to you from a bleary eyed Saturday morning after a brilliant night out watching Dick Gaughan in Dundee with oor pals Brendan and Caddy. If you haven’t heard of him you really should check him out!

It’s been a slow week in the office for me, reading and attempting to write, but I feel like I’m making some headway with my research so today is a chirpy one.

We’re going to drop by a friend’s place the Fountain Cafe along the road later on for brunch. It’s worth pointing out that he has just opened a new takeaway coffee and sandwich joint on Lauriston place called Contino. Check it out if you’re in that end of town. I can tell you that the coffee, from the fair hand of Meg, is rich and dark (a relatively unknown Italian supplier) and that a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll will set you up nicely for the day.

[Update] – As is perhaps apparent, this is not Saturday. I wrote this post yesterday and published it today which means I can bring to you an exclusive picture of one of the best brunches you could hope for. Simon (our pal, the owner) recommended the pancakes with bacon and maple syrup which, even having had a fairly large breakfast only an hour before, was entirely irresistible. The salty savoury bacon with the sweetness of the syrup and the light fluffy stack of pancakes delivered pleasure beyond measure! Here they are in all their glory!

20130310-095733.jpg

The recipe this week is rather experimental, especially because it came to me in a dream about 3 months ago. You hear of these things happening to musicians, they wake up humming a wee ditty or whatever, but it’s never happened to me before. Naturally I had to cook it! Catherine took a bit of persuading (hence the 3 month hiatus) but I finally ground her down enough to let me try it. It is a real corker (if I don’t mind saying so myself). I’ve just asked her for a quote on the curry:

Not as bad as I thought it would be… Nah, it was amazing

Take from that what you will.

The dish itself requires a little time and actually works best, I’d say, in a slow cooker or a casserole dish in the oven. this allows the flavours to infuse and for the beef to tenderise. The marmalade, although unconventional, dots the curry with sleek jewels of bitter-sweet rind and gives the curry a richness that is hard to beat. Just think of it like mango chutney and you’ll soon get over the apprehensions I’m sure you’re harbouring as you read this.

So, to the recipe! This is pretty rough so you should feel free to muck about with it a little if you like. Let me know in the comments if there are any additions/substitutions you discover. Also, it looks like a lot of ingredients but if you combine the whole spices in a wee bowl before hand then you can turf it all in at once!

Marmalade curried beef

20130309-123258.jpg

Ingredients:

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 red onion roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic
2 sliced red chillies seeds left in (adjust to tastes/tolerance)
1 black cardamom
5 cloves
1 star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp sea salt
500g stewing beef diced
1/2 butternut squash diced
1/2 courgette diced
3 tbsp thick cut marmalade
Beef stock
1 tsp garam masala

Method:

1. Toast coriander, cumin and cinnamon in the pot you’ll use for the curry over a medium heat. When they just start to smoke and release a bit of their fragrant oils tip them into a spice mill and grind them to a fine powder (you can do this in a mortar and pestle if you prefer/if it’s all you have).

2. Return the pot to the heat, whap in a glug of veg oil and gently fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a further 2 mins.

3. Now tip in the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, star anise, fennel and fenugreek seeds) and stir them in. It should be smelling amazing by now! Give it a few minutes and then tip in the ground spices and salt. Keep stirring so they don’t burn.

4. After a minute or so throw the beef in and let it seal all over (4-5 minutes should do it).

5. Now add the veg and the beef stock and two tablespoons of the marmalade (the last one will go in at the end) and bring to the boil. The stock should just cover the meat and veg (if you’re using a casserole dish add a little more as it will reduce a little in the oven).

6. If you are using a casserole dish give it 2-3 hours in the oven on 180C or gas mark 4-5. If you’re using a slow cooker give it 5-6 hours on low (you can really leave it all day if you’re out though and it will be amazingly succulent and tender when you get home).

7. Just before serving stir in the remaining tablespoon of marmalade and the garam masala. this will just brighten it up a little.

8. Serve with boiled basmati rice and yoghurt (the entirely pretentious orange zest is optional).

I really hope you try this one out, it’s well worth stepping a wee bit out of your comfort zone for! The dream recipe thing seems to work, perhaps next time we’re hosting for dinner I should have a wee nap and see if I can come up with a whole menu?

Let me know what you think.

Till next time…