Sunday, 24 June 2007

kelewele - spicy fried plantains

I’ve been wanting to cook plantains for a long time but I’ve never seen them in the grocery store. I guess that’s because I’ve been living in an Italian area for the past six years.

Recently Jonas and I moved into a new area. Initially I was a little sad and reluctant, because I’d moved away from a wonderful supply of ingredients, but now I’m beginning to brighten up.

I’ve discovered new ingredients from cuisines I’ve barely touched upon in the past. A specialist grocery store across the street contains an amazing array of items from the Pacific islands, India, Africa and Latin America. Fufu powder, palm oil, ajowan and tomatillos are just the tip of the iceberg.

And then I saw the plantains . . . a perfect final WHB before Jonas and I embark on our belated honeymoon in Bali, an island of Indonesia.


I’ve read that this Ghanaian snack is often sold by street vendors in Africa but that many Americans may be familiar with the dish through Kwanzaa cookbooks.

Traditionally kelewele are cubes of plantains, but I just couldn’t resist keeping the banana-like shape to remind me of the exciting source of this starchy snack.

I got this recipe from the website, which has a variety of Ghanaian recipes gathered from various online sources.

We did tweak the final step a little, using smoked sea salt rather than regular salt. This added a beautiful earthy, smokiness to the crispy pieces.

Recipe from Serves 2-3 as a side dish or snack.
2 plantains
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground chilli (cayenne)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1. Mix the ginger root, chilli and salt then mix with water.
2. Toss together the plantain cubes and spice mixture. Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.
3. Heat oil in frying pan then fry until golden on both sides, making sure they don’t gather together while frying.
4. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.
Note: some recipes use other spices such as ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, red pepper flakes and water instead of lemon juice.

It’s really important to keep the spice count up as plantains can be a bit bland on their own. They taste of potato with a slight hint of banana.

Plantains are very starchy fruit which are used more like a vegetable. They must be cooked before being eaten and are low in sugar content, although I suppose a black plantain (at its ripest stage) may be eaten raw.

It seems that green plantains are best for savoury dishes but when they get a little riper you can use them for desserts too.

Green plantains are very hard to peel and I used a potato peeler to get into the starchy flesh. In fact it’s so starchy my hands were coated with sticky starch even after washing.

Apparently they come from tropical South East Asia, particularly the Malay Archipelago, but they feature heavily in the diets of the Caribbean and west Africa. There they use plantains the way Europeans use potatoes: they can be fried, boiled, mashed or baked.

In Vietnam and Laos the plantain flowers are used to make salads and soups and the large leaves can be used as plates or wraps when cooking food. As the plant will only fruit once, after the harvest the stalk can be peeled to reveal a soft shoot which is also eaten.

This Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Astrid from Paulchen's Food Blog. Check out her site to see what's happening in the world of herbal cooking.

See you all again in two weeks!



Wednesday, 20 June 2007

mxmo crème de la crème: round-up

Hosting this event was an interesting experience for me. I knew this theme would be a challenge – I’ve read from various industry sources that a serious mixologist wouldn’t touch cream liqueurs – which is why I provided the cream escape clause, but I was kind of surprised to learn two things:
1. that people don’t realise quite how many cream liqueurs there are out there
2. that people don’t reconcile cream liqueurs with summer drinks

Most of the MxMo gang are from the northern hemisphere, currently experiencing summer, and I noticed that many commented on a reluctance to use dairy in the heat. Fair enough.

So this theme probably wasn’t the most seasonally thought out: apologies for that!

Those of us in the southern hemisphere are only too painfully aware how frustrating it is to have sorbet and outdoor dining themes when it’s 15’C (59’F) and raining! I hope I didn't inflict dairy overload on those in sweltering heat.

Oh the woes of globalisation!

Despite the seasonal complexities, I was pleasantly surprised to see such a great turnout and some really imaginative drinks. Cream was by far the most popular theme ingredient, but soy cream, coconut cream and creamy condensed milk all made an appearance alongside a variety of creamy liqueurs.

So without further ado:

Coconut Margaritas
Mia from Nosh (Munich, Germany) was inspired by a recent book about paddling through the Pacific so she decided to recreate her own deserted Tongan beach with this delicious cocktail. Roasted shredded coconut garnished the rim while Coco Lopez (coconut cream and sugar cane), lime juice, tequila and Cointreau blended perfectly in the margarita bowl.

The Chasian Orgasm
With a name like this, Robert from Explore the Pour was always going to turn heads. His feature ingredient was Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur. He describes the flavour as quite sweet with an initial rum entry and a spicy chai palate. His orgasmic cocktail included Voyant Chai Cream Liqueur, Kahlua and Amaretto. The ingredients are shaken then poured over ice into an old fashioned glass and garnished with a cinnamon quill.

Vanilla Nut Rumtini
Chelsea from Bon Vivant (Colorado, USA) set out to make a summer cream-based drink that would entice the drinker back for seconds. The results saw Dooley’s Toffee Liqueur (yay, another cream liqueur), Frangelico and Jamaican rum shaken with ice and served up in a martini glass.

Crème Brûlée Cocktail
Darcy from The Art of Drink (Ontario, Canada) liquefies one of the world’s favourite desserts. Vanilla rum, heavy cream and Advocaat are shaken vigorously then strained into a martini glass. Dark caramel syrup is drizzled on the surface, satisfying both tradition and the drinker’s desire for pure indulgence.

Deep and Dark
Mysterious Mr H. from Paragraph One (Virginia, USA) overcame his aversion to sweet drinks and chocolate in this MxMo challenge. Carolan's Irish Cream, white Crème de Cacao and chilled espresso were stirred then strained into a lowball before being topped with Bell's Kalamazoo Stout. That’s one dark horse.

Lady Rebel Cocktail
Craig aka Dr Bamboo recently acquired a 1959 edition bartending guide that contained this classy drink with a kick. Bourbon, apricot brandy, white crème de cacao, heavy cream and grenadine are shaken with ice and strained to produce a frothy, pink cocktail.

Coco Blanco Dave from Dave’s Drinks came up with the clever name and this tasty cocktail. It’s based on Barceló, a new cream liqueur made from Dominican aged rum aged. The cocktail blends Barceló ice and coconut cream which is then served in a wide glass with an Amaretto float. This white (blanco) drink containing coconut (coco), is also the name of a native bird in Santo Domingo, where Barceló is made. Much too clever Dave.

Fizz a la Violette
Paul from The Cocktail Chronicles (Seattle, USA) created his own floral fizzy concoction. Gin, lime and lemon juices, crème de violette, cream, egg white and sugar syrup are shaken strenuously until gorgeous foam appears. Although Paul claims the drink was more gray than violet, his initial apprehension eased when the cream balanced out the potentially dominate flavour of violet.

Orange Chocolate Ball
Gabriel from Cocktail Nerd (Tulsa, OK, USA), took this challenge head on since he’s not too keen on cream liqueurs. For someone uninspired by the theme, Gabriel turned a Terry’s Chocolate Orange into a delectable cocktail using espresso, Gran Gala, Amarula and Godiva chocolate liqueur. These are shaken on ice then strained into a chilled glass. And don’t forget the orange twist as a garnish!

Rose Fizz
Seamus from bunnyhugs (Auckland, New Zealand) aimed for a “refreshing palate cleanser” to balance out the sweeter drinks he knew would grace this months MxMo. He used rose flavoured Hendricks gin, rosewater and grenadine in a traditional Ramos Gin Fizz recipe that involved a whole lot of scientifically measured shaking. Check his post which also includes a Ramos Gin Fizz as well as promises of an orgeat based Almond Fizz to come.

The Straight B
The Bottle Gang (Twin Cities, USA) put their heads together to come up with this yummy cocktail that resonates with “mellow blackberry”. The ingredients are simple Bs: B&B (mixture of Benedictine and Brandy), Bailey's Irish Cream and blackberry brandy. The combination is served in a lowball over ice and sounds dreamy.

White Russian
Anita from Married With Dinner (San Francisco, USA) paid homage to the biggest lazy bum in celluloid, the Big Lebowski, with her indulgent take on the White Russian. The Dude was seen sipping these beauties throughout the film and Anita’s version uses cream with the traditional Kahlua and vodka mix.

White Mink
Marleigh from Sloshed! (Los Angeles, USA) is a vegan, so this theme just sucked. Despite the set back, she forged ahead using brandy, Galliano, white crème de cacao, soy cream and vanilla rice cream to make a creamy dessert drink that vegans can indulge. Unfortunately she wasn’t thrilled with the results and felt like it needed something more. Work in progress.

Ramos Rye Fizz
Sarah from Avenue Food (Queens, NY, USA) wanted to make a traditional Ramos Gin Fizz but discovered she was out of gin. Hubby Brian came to the rescue with his improvised cocktail using rye instead. They used powdered sugar, orange bitters and the usual egg white, cream, soda, acidic lemon juice and a whole lot of shaking. Sarah declared it a triumph “mellow and rich with a pronounced rye flavour”.

Carrot Punch
Sarina Nicole from TriniGourmet (Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago) brings a unique angle with condensed milk, carrot juice, bitters (Angostura of course!) and beer. She recommends serving this punch ice cold over cracked ice and describes the flavour as light and fruity. I must say I am intrigued!

Morganthaler’s Irish Cream
Jeffrey from the self titled Jeffrey Morganthaler (Eugene, Oregon, USA) gets extra points for planning and dedication when he made his very own Irish Cream. He amalgamated a variety of online sources to suit his tastes then charged ahead without fear. So what goes into Morganthaler’s Irish Cream? Why half-and-half, sweetened condensed milk, Irish whiskey (of course!), espresso, chocolate syrup, vanilla extract and almond extract. This is chilled and “should” keep itself together for a month (although please don’t hold Jeffrey liable).

White Winter
Haalo from Cook Almost Anything At Least Once (Melbourne, Australia) used this cream theme to find a cocktail suitable for the chilly winter weather. Drambuie Cream, vodka and Kahlua are shaken vigorously then served up a martini glass.

And if the above contributions weren’t enough, the team over at eGullet came up with their own creamy inventions:
* bostonapothecary made two: the Maillard Fizz (chocolate cream liqueur, rye and egg white) and the Kingston Snake Charmer (Irish moss cream, applejack and apry/creole shrub)
* Leo Engal came up with the Kalidoor which, like Advocaat, gets its creaminess from egg yolks, Benedictine, raspberry syrup and champagne.
* Dan Ryan created a grasshopper variation called The Cavalletta using Branca Mint instead of crème de menthe.
* eje revamped the Barbary Coast Cocktail using gin, whisky, crème de cacao and cream on ice.

Creamsicle Martini
Gwen from Intoxicated Zodiac was running a little late with her entry for MxMo. Better late than never! Her Leo inspired cocktail uses freshly squeezed orange, soy cream, sugar syrup and vanilla infused whiskey. Hear the lion roar!

And last is my own cocktail, The Scottish Elephant. I used African fruit based Amarula cream and Shetland’s very own Jago Vanilla Vodka Cream. These were blended with milk, banana and ice to make a decadent dessert shake.

Phew! That’s the round-up!

Thanks for letting me host this week and thanks to everyone for their contributions. I hope some of you have been inspired to try something new. Isn’t that what MxMo is all about?


Monday, 18 June 2007

the scottish elephant

Here's my super creamy contribution to Mixology Monday, a monthly cocktail event.

This month I’m hosting the round-up and my theme was crème de la crème.

There are so many cream based liqueurs out there that I hope to see some interesting contributions.

In my recipe I used two in particular: Jago’s vanilla vodka cream and Amarula.

Jago’s Vanilla Vodka Cream
This Scottish product – created by, Tom Jago, one of the brains behind Bailey’s Irish Cream – is made from cream and vodka that were both produced on the far northern Shetland Islands. The dairy cattle, known as Shetland breeds, were believed to originate in Scandinavia and were brought to Scotland by Vikings. The cream is blended with Blackwood’s Vodka and flavoured with vanilla, creating a very tasty cream alcohol indeed.

The Marula tree, Sclerocarrya birrea, is uncultivated by man and only grows in frost-free subequatorial Africa. The fruit’s white flesh is rich in vitamin C, and the natural oils of the nut inside attract many animals, especially elephants who gather in mass herds giving the tree the nickname “elephant tree”. A brand of the Distell Group, Amarula Cream was introduced to South African drinkers way back in 1989. Now this beautiful cream, which has a slight orange-chocolate flavour, is sold in 150 countries worldwide.

The Scottish Elephant
Anna & Amy’s recipe. Serves 2.
45ml Jago (1 part)
90ml Amarula (2 parts)
135ml milk (3 parts)
½ cup ice
1 banana
Blend and serve in short glasses.

Check back in a few days to see the round-up and hopefully we’ll see some yummy recipes using: Tequila Rose, Bailey's, Voyant Chai Cream, Dooley's Toffee Liqueur, Justs Desserts Creme Brulee, Castries Peanut Rum Cream, Mr Boston Creamy Egg Nog, El Dorado Rum Cream, Cointreau Cream, Mozart Chocolate Cream, Grand Marnier Cream, Galleria Espresso Cream, Lauria Alpensahne Alpine Cream Liqueur, Giori Limoncello Cream and Old Whisky River Bourbon Cream – just to name a few!

Thanks to the, from which I borrowed the Amarula & Jago images.


Saturday, 16 June 2007

arabic flatbread pizza

Last night Jonas and I threw a housewarming to introduce our new apartment to our friends.

We had fun, but we suddenly realised that we’re older now. Those raucous, vodka-guzzling plastic-cup parties of our youth have been replaced with much more civilised discussions over Penfolds in real wine glasses. It was obviously a gradual process but we were still shocked to discover where we ended up.

With the morning after hangover firmly in place - red wine is much worse than vodka - I have junk food on the mind and so my WHB entry this week is khoubz pizza (herb: oregano).

Jonas created this little treasure one evening when were low on everything except flatbread and cheese. The recipe is the incredibly easy and the results are deliciously satisfying. Really!

The version in the photograph is a margherita (cheese and tomato) but you can obviously add anything you want. I love a variety of combinations using olives, artichokes, fetta, cooked sausage and salami.

Margherita Khoubz Pizza
Jonas’ very own recipe. Serves 1 for dinner, 2 for a snack.
1 round of khoubz (Arabic flat bread)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Good sprinkling of dried oregano
As much chilli paste/powder/flakes as you desire
As much cheese as you can take
1. Crush garlic and mix with tomato paste. Add chilli and a pinch of dried oregano. Spread over the flatbread.
2. Top with cheese then toppings.
3. Sprinkle over as much dried oregano as desired then bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and the edges of the bread are crispy.

This week’s Weekend Herb Blogging host is Rachel from Rachel’s Bite (Florida, USA). The herbaceous round-up should be live in a few days or so but in the meantime you can read about her recent Alaskan food experiences.


Tuesday, 12 June 2007

sbiten - russian winter drink


Today is Russia Day, a celebration of national unity when, in 1990, Russian parliament formally declared its sovereignty.

For such a recently adopted holiday, it has changed its name a number of times. First it was called Independence Day, then to the catchy Day of the Adoption of the Declaration of Sovereignty of the Russian Federation (just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it!) and finally to the much more acceptable Russia Day. Yeltsin brought it in, but Putin was the first to make it a popular holiday.

Tomorrow I’m off to celebrate with the Russian Embassy so in honour of their national day, and in the vein of cooking my way around the world, I offer you this delicious winter drink: sbiten.

Made from honey, spices and fruit, this traditional winter drink is deliciously sweet and spicy and was been first recorded way back in 1128. Sbitenshchik (sbiten vendors as pictured in this old school sketch) would sell the drink in the streets where it transcended all class barriers, making it the most popular Russian winter drink until tea made a splash in the 1800s.

I’ve read that it’s making a bit of a revival these days and why not, since it’s ridiculously easy to make and is perfect on a cold day. The spices soothe sore throats and a shot of rum turns it into the perfect after-dinner digestive.

Anna’s very own recipe devised from internet searches. Serves 4.

1 litre water
150g jam (apricot or raspberry are most traditional, but I used rose hip)
50g honey
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground ginger
10 whole cloves
1. Bring water to boil, then add honey and jam.
2. Dissolve jam and honey into water.
3. After 5 minutes add spices and cook for a further 5 minutes.
4. Strain and serve hot.
Note: Can be stored in the fridge and reheated. You can also add a few cardamom pods and a dried chilli if you like.

According to Wikipedia, there are other versions which include:
* Tzar's Sbiten: honey, sugar, red bilberry, blueberry and blackberry; sweet clover, inula, salvia, thyme, spices.
* Sbiten Boyarsky: honey, sugar, cranberry, blackberry; melissa, sweet clover, thyme, spices.
* Sbiten Moscovsky: honey, sugar, red bilberry, blueberry; melissa, sweet clover, thyme, spices.


Monday, 11 June 2007

mixology monday - cream based liqueurs

Bring on the drinks!!!

I'm hosting June's Mixology Monday with a theme of crème de la crème, or cream based liqueurs.

The date to post your Mixology Monday crème de la crème is Monday 18 June.

So, if you want to participate in this cocktail event, this is what you need to do:
1. Make / invent a cocktail using a cream based liqueur (lazy bums can include cream in their cocktail if they have no cream based liqueurs at home).
2. Post it on your blog on Monday 18 June
3. Email your hyperlink and a 100x100 photo to morselsandmusingsATyahooDOTcomDOTau
4. Check back on the weekend to read the round-up.

My only rules are:
- the cocktail must contain a cream based liqueur or cream
- the post can't been used for another blogging event (other than photo competitions)

To whet your appetite in the meantime, here's a sample of cocktails I've blogged about before:
Piña y Menta
Boozy Hot Chocolate
Chilled Mulled Riesling
Pink Pudding
Lingonberry Daiquiri
Tangelo Caprioska


Wednesday, 6 June 2007

asparagus soup w white truffle mash

Hopefully I am back on track with this blog, after one month offline.

First I was travelling and then we moved apartments and now we're waiting for AAPT and Telstra to pull their fingers out and get our ADSL connected!

Worse of all, I've been so busy at work and Jonas has been so busy with his assignments that I haven't had time or access to a computer to even read over other blogs. I'm feeling very isolated and behind the times here!!!

So now I'm staying back at work to put something up and have a gander at what's been going on during my internet exile.

In my previous post about German food I mentioned a delicious white asparagus soup that I ate in a Frankfurt Italian restaurant called Medici.

As one of our last big meals in our old apartment, I replicated the dish with green asparagus and the results were absolutely fantastic.

The best part of this dish is the unique addition of mash potatoes that have been flavoured, ever so delicately, with white truffle oil. Pungent and perfect.

Asparagus Soup w White Truffle Mash
The soup recipe is based on Delia Smith's but the overall concept belongs to Medici in Frankfurt. Serves 6.
900g (2 lb) asparagus
50g (2oz) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 slightly rounded tablespoon plain flour
1 litre (1¾ pints) hot stock (vegetable or chicken)
150 ml (5 fl oz) pouring cream, plus 1 tablespoon extra
salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 potatoes
White truffle oil to taste
1. Prepare the asparagus by cutting away and discarding the tough, stringy white ends of the stalks, reserve 4 asparagus tips per person to garnish the soup, then chop the green parts of the rest of the asparagus into 1 inch (2.5 cm) lengths.
2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat and cook the chopped onion in it for 5 minutes, keeping the heat low to prevent the onion colouring.
3. Stir the asparagus into the melted butter and onion, then put a lid on and let it sweat for about 10 minutes, giving it a stir now and then.
4. Sprinkle in the tablespoon of flour, stir again to soak up the juices.
5. Add the hot chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring after each addition.
6. When all the stock is in, bring to simmering point, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Keeping the heat low, let the soup barely simmer, partially covered, for 20-25 minutes.
7. Meanwhile clean, peel and dice the potatoes into small cubes. Boil until soft (approx 5-10 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon cream and mash with potato masher. Add white truffle oil to taste, adding a few drops at a time. Set aside but keep warm.
8. Allow the soup cool a little, then pour it into a blender and blend in batches (a large bowl is helpful here). Taste to check the seasoning.
9. Stir in the cream and the reserved asparagus tips. Re-heat gently for 3-4 minutes.
10. Arrange mashed potatoes in the centre of warmed soup bowls. Pour in soup around the potatoes and garnish with asparagus tips.

This German inspired soup is a fitting contribution to my return to Weekend Herb Blogging, since this week the host is Ulrike from Küchenlatein in Germany (Kronshagen).

Related Posts with Thumbnails