pineapple

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

Kids seem to get a kick out of quirky and unusual things. Yellow carrots, therefore, were a big hit. I was a bit worried they may not taste good, as it was the case with the beautiful stripy aubergines I bought a few weeks ago. Glad to report yellow carrots delivered on taste.

Even though I bought them from the supermarket, where all the fruits and vegetables seem to be of uniform shapes and sizes, the yellow carrots were wonky and gorgeously misshapen. Just the way veg should be.

yellow-carrots

I wanted to accentuate the sunshine colour of the carrots and adding a yellow pineapple seemed the best way to do. It turned out to be a perfect choice as it not only looked great but everybody loved the gorgeous sweetness and freshness of this simple salad.

It was served as a part of a mezze meal. My friend was just at the tail end of a detox so I wanted to serve fresh, easy, uncomplicated food. Apart from the carrot salad we had my raw courgette dip (
http://www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/cd27fb3b34f77fee3058fa84c453ae2d-72.html ), beetroot falafels (/www.plantstrongliving.co.uk/blog/files/ac326fc7e745955899b46d24741566c2-108.html ) , olives, lots of raw veggies to go with the falafels, tahini dressing and spicy patatas bravas (those I forgot to photograph... will make them again soon). It was freezing outside but we sure were eating sunshine :)

yellow-carrot-salad

YELLOW CARROT SALAD

ingredients
4 large yellow carrots
1/2 medium pineapple
2 large oranges

Using a box grater finely grate the carrots.
Cut the peel and the core off the pineapple and chop into small bite size pieces (about 1 - 1.5cm)
Mix the carrots with the pineapple and add the juice of 2 oranges.
Serve. This salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.


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TOFU SKEWERS WITH CHINESE SPICED PLUM SAUCE

TOFU SKEWERS WITH CHINESE SPICED PLUM SAUCE

In an ideal world I would have a large garden, preferably a forrest garden, full of delicious fruits and veggies waiting to be picked and turned into delicious dishes. The reality is different. My garden is a postage stamp size and my dog’s second name could be “the destroyer”. Unfortunately I have a list of plants that have succumbed to his digging, chewing or just simple stomping upon...(he is rather large). There was a blueberry bush, golden currant bush, strawberry plants, raspberry canes.... At least the red currant, Audrey Hepburn rose and my plum tree have survived his advances so far. My poor rosemary plant had a close call the other day...

Last Sunday morning I woke up before the predicted torrential rains started. Armed with a plastic bowl and a dining room chair I embarked on my plum harvest. I do hope my neighbours were still asleep and didn’t see me in my pyjamas balancing on the chair with a bowl in one hand... It must have been a sight. But I managed to pick all the plums before the rain and wind...

Even though plums are delicious on their own but I though I should try making them into a chinese spiced plum sauce free of the usual MSG and additives. The sauce went really well with grilled tofu skewers. Use any purple plums you can get your hands on. With plums being in season at the moment I am sure local farm shops and markets will be selling them cheap.

plums

TOFU SKEWERS WITH CHINESE SPICED PLUM SAUCE

Serves 4, sauce yield -2 cups



ingredients
the plum sauce:
440g/1 lb plums
1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch ginger, grated
1 tsp chinese spice
2 Tbs coconut palm sugar
1 Mejdol date, chopped
2 Tbs rice vinegar
160ml (2/3c) water
pinch salt
2 tsp tamari or other soya sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (optional)

tofu skewers
500g (1lb 2 oz)
1 red pepper
4 small onions
half a pineapple

plum-sauce

method
  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak them first for at least 20min.
  2. To make the sauce put all the ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 min.
  4. Place the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth (take care when blending hot liquids - it could end up on the ceiling, I start with the lowest speed to prevent redecorating the kitchen)
  5. While the sauce is cooking, remove the tofu from its packaging and dry on some paper towels.
  6. Cut into large cubes. I had 24 pieces - 3 per skewer.
  7. Cut the pepper into large pieces. Quarter the onions. Cut off the pineapple skin and the core. Cut the pineapple into bite sized pieces.
  8. Thread the tofu, pepper, onion and pineapple onto skewers.
  9. Preheat the grill (broiler) and place the skewers under. Grill for about 5 min each side, or until the tofu, veggies and fruit start to caramelise.
  10. Serve with the sauce and some rice or noodles on the side.

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CARIBBEAN STYLE GREEN BANANA CURRY

CARIBBEAN STYLE GREEN BANANA CURRY

greenbanana
This week’s Riverford organic vegetable boxes contained free green bananas from the Dominican Republic. I am not talking the under ripe bananas you can get in shops, these were ultra green, alien kind of fruit. In the Dominican Republic, as I found out from Riverford video, these are cooked down, mashed and served topped with sliced red onions. Riverford also suggested deep frying them for spicy chips.

Time for another experiment in my kitchen, I wasn’t too enthused to start deep frying, that is not the plant strong way. The idea that came to me was a banana curry. I planned going down the more familiar Indian route, but when I stopped at the shop to pick up some green chili peppers I spotted the Caribbean staple, the almighty Scotch Bonnet pepper. That made me rethink my curry’s country of origin. Reggae started to sound in my head.

The green bananas are rather hard to peel, cut of the ends, slit the skin lengthways and proceed to peel. Don’t expect one neat intact peel as from a ripe banana. When cooked the banana pieces hold their shapes extremely well and taste more like a starchy vegetable. I added some pineapple to freshen and lighten up the taste, the fruity zing goes well with the starchiness of the green banana. Few cashews add texture and protein to the dish.

The Scotch Bonnet boasts with 9 rating on the Scoville Chile Heat Chart, it packs a spicy punch, however it also brings wonderful fruity flavour to dishes. If you just slit the pepper and add it whole to your curry, you will get heat and flavour, but it will not be too spicy. If you do like it very hot, by all means chop the pepper up (just don’t touch your eyes afterwards).

Roti would be the perfect flat bread to go with this curry, but a chapati or indeed a tortilla wrap will do well here too. Rice or quinoa would work well too.

If you can’t get green bananas try making this curry with plantains.

CARIBBEAN STYLE GREEN BANANA CURRY
serves 2
caribcurryspice

ingredients

1 star anise
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
3 all spice berries
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp thyme
50 (1/2cup) cashews
1/2 -1 Tbs rapeseed oil
1 tsp ginger, chopped finely
1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, make a slit in the side with a knife
4 green bananas, peeled and sliced (1/4inch slices)
1 tsp palm or brown sugar
375ml (1 and 1/2 cup water)
150g (heaped cup) fresh pineapple pieces (about 1 inch thick slices from a large pineapple)
salt to taste
lemon juice to taste
2 Tbs coriander leaves, chopped

method
  1. First make the spice mix. Heat a frying pan add the whole spices (star anise, coriander, cumin, mustard and all spice berries). Heat until fragrant, take care not to burn.
  2. Next toast the cashews, set aside.
  3. In a mortar and pestle, pound the spices (I removed the star anise, I was worried about not being able to pound it small enough and didn’t want sharp pieces in my curry). Add the cardamom and thyme and mix together.
  4. In a wok heat the oil, add ginger and cook 30 seconds, add the green bananas, the chili pepper and the spices (don’t forget the star anise), cook about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the water and palm sugar, cover and cook for 15min.
  6. After 15min add the pineapple pieces, cook further 10 min, until the bananas soften and sauce is very thick (there won’t be a lot of sauce left).
  7. Stir in the cashews, season with salt and lime juice.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with you chosen side.

bananacurry
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