24 July 2016

There is No Excuse for Discarding One's Banana!

Have you read the recent furore about banana wastage in the UK?  

Apparently we, as a nation, throw away 162,000,000 bananas annually. In many cases this is because they either a bit green or a bit brown, neither of which is a valid reason to discard one’s banana. 

how to use over ripe bananas

Over Ripe Bananas


As bananas ripen and become sweeter they develop brown spots on their skin which merely indicated the degree of ripeness. It has even been argued that a riper (and therefore browner skinned) banana is the healthier choice.

Sainsbury's have been encouraging people to make banana bread or cake with overripe bananas and give a recipe on their site but as one of the ingredients is “sponge mix” I’d rather give my own here. 

Caribbean Banana Lime Bread ~ with optional rum!


225g soft light brown sugar
110g soft butter
285g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
generous pinch of salt
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas – mashed fairly smoothly although a few lumps are fine
juice of 1 lime
85ml milk
an additional 45g light brown sugar
30g butter
1 tablespoon of rum – optional

~   Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350°F/160ºC fan/gas 4.
~   Lightly grease a loaf tin -  20cm x 12.5cm is ideal.
~   Stir two teaspoons of lime juice into the milk.
~   Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
~   Sift together the next three ingredients.
~   Beat the eggs into the butter mixture together with a spoonful or two of the flour mixture (which should stop it curdling although it doesn’t really matter if it does!).
~   Add the mashed bananas, the lime zest and the milk and lime juice mixture and beat in.
~   Fold in the rest of the flour mix.
~   Decant the cake batter into the loaf tin an bake for about an hour till risen and golden brown.
~   When ready cool on a rack for about 10 minutes before turning out carefully.
~   Whilst it is cooling over low heat stir together the 45g light brown sugar, 30g butter, the rest of the lime juice and the optional rum to form a syrup.
~   Carefully turn the cake out and then sit it back on the cooling rack over a plate or a tray to catch drips.
~   Carefully spoon the syrup over the warm cake.
~   Leave to cool.

A sprinkle of toasted coconut is a lovely finish to this cake and if using desiccated coconut please see here for an easy way to make it much, much nicer!

Green Bananas


There is nothing wrong with these and here are two options for dealing with them …

homegrown bananas
1.   Wait till they ripen.  This can be speeded up by putting them in a brown paper bag together with a ripe apple or orange or a ripe banana.  The ripe fruit releases a gas called ethylene which will encourage the unripe fruit to get on with it.
2.   Cook them. Green bananas are very popular in the Caribbean (here’s a pic of some growing in our garden when we lived in the BVI) and a simple way is to boil them and serve as a side dish to savoury dishes.  Just peel (you will need a knife as they don’t peel easily when under ripe) and cook in boiling salted water for 10-15 minutes. 

Banana Chips


Peel under ripe bananas with a knife, cut into wedges or thin fries and and deep fry at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C.) till crisp and golden.  Drain well, season with salt and maybe a little chilli powder and serve.

For more complicated green banana dishes look at some Caribbean food sites such as Caribbean Pot or Eat Like a Jamaican.

Now then, here is the Banana section of my book The Leftovers Handbook (sorry it's a bit out of focus - the real book isn't!)  ...
the leftovers handbook sample
the leftovers handbook bananas
the leftovers handbook preview
over-ripe bananas


Banana Brittle 


The above, is a wonderful accompaniment to Rum Roasted Banana Ice Cream - the recipe for which is in my ice cream book.  See sidebar because this is an utter bargain at the moment!!

As it happens I cannot abide bananas (although I will work with them!) yet I came up with over 20 good ideas for bananas, including overripe bananas, in The Leftovers Handbook Just think of all the ideas I have come up with for the other 450 or so ingredients in the book.  

THE LEFTOVERS HANDBOOK SUZY BOWLER


Well, that’s about that for this post but here are a couple of pleasant banana related images.




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19 July 2016

My Definition of the Verb "to frazzle"

I have been frazzling things in the kitchen for years but whilst preparing this post I looked up “frazzle” in the dictionary for the correct meaning; apparently the primary definition is ...

“to put in a state of extreme physical or nervous fatigue”

I probably did frazzle some of the kitchen staff, including myself on occasion, but that’s not what I mean.

The other definition I found is ...

“cause to shrivel up with burning”

I might have done this too once or twice but I wouldn’t recommend it.

My own personal definition of frazzle is ...

“to fry shreds of an ingredient till crisp”

This sort of frazzling is a great way of using up and enhancing a little bit of this or that to create a snack, cook’s treat, garnish or component of a dish.

I was prompted to write post this by a couple of experiments we did in the pub kitchen where I am now employed making desserts – firstly we sliced a Chantenay carrot lengthways and deep fried it.  Drained, cooled and salted the slices were both pretty and delicious.  

Yesterday, as I peeled a whole case of apples to make loads of apple crumble (the season is upon us – yikes!), I wondered what would happen if we deep fried some of the peelings.  So we did and they were crisp and lovely with caster sugar and a pinch of cinnamon, I think they will be showing up quite a lot on the menu.

I don’t think I have frazzled either of these in the past and have no photos of the above experiments but I have frazzled the following ...

Sweet Potatoes 


To frazzle these I first peel the sweet potato and then using the potato continue peeling until I have a pile of sweet potato ribbons. More ideas for delicious sweet potatoes here.

Leeks


These make a lovely crunchy garnish for creamy leek dishes (see a few great ideas for leeks here). Cut a leek into long thin strips, rub a little cornflour (aka corn starch in the US) through them to help them go crips and deep fry for a few minutes till golden. Lift out of the oil with a skimmer and drain on kitchen roll. Sprinkle with a little crunchy sea salt.

Sage and Parsley


Just drop clean and dry sage leaves or parsley sprigs into hot fat for literally a few seconds, 2 or 3 will probably do it. Drain on kitchen roll and sprinkle with sea salt. Bacon and pork, savoury apple dishes, onions, butternut squash and blue cheese will all benefit from a sage garnish, and the parsley is a great garnish for fish dishes in particular and most other savoury dishes too.

Frazzled Onions which I usually call Onion Grass on menus. 


This is a quicker, easier and in my opinion nicer alternative to making onion rings. 

~   Peel halve and thinly slice onions into half-moons.
~   Toss together with seasoned flour – the easiest way to do this is in a bag.
~   Shake off excess and deep fry the onions.
~   Drain well and season.


Chorizo


Fry coarsely chopped, julienned or shredded (or any other shape) chorizo in a little olive oil till crisp.  Remove from the oil and set aside on paper towel to cool and crisp. Sprinkle on salads, soups, pasta dishes, fish and anything else that takes your fancy.

DON’T throw the oil away it will be infused with chorizo and great for drizzling on things such as soup or fried eggs, for instance.  See here for lots more on chorizo including purpose made chorizo oil. 



Prosciutto


Pretty well the same goes with Prosciutto for instance Tagliatelle in Asparagus “Pesto” with Frazzled Prosciutto.






Chicken and Duck Skin – Grattons and Gribenes


These are delicious crispy morsels made from duck or chicken skin. See here for how to make grattons and gribenes and use them to garnish soups, salads, pâtés and general duck dishes or just nibble on them.





Pancakes


Leftover pancakes are great cut into strips, fried till crisp and used to garnish whatever you fancy.







This is just one good way to use up scraps, bits and pieces and leftovers – I have written a book containing literally hundreds of good ideas, suggestions, recipes and tips ~ read more about The Leftovers Handbook here.



Sorry I haven’t posted for a while, by the way, my computer has been having a problem but he’s OK now.

OK - that's all for now, enjoy the sunshine! Let me know if you think of anything else that could do with a damn good frazzling!


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