I haven’t blogged for a few days because I haven’t had anything very clever for lunch. I have been eating well, so no worries, but nothing worth telling the world about; chicken and green chilli toasted sandwich, hummus with Vickys bread and a strange fusion meal of naan bread and chilli con carne.

The weather is, of course, much, much colder and so this may be untimely but I have decided to tackle the subject of bananas. This is not easy for me as I am bananaphobic but the coincidence of a bunch of the buggers lounging around the place needing using up and dear friends, Bob and Roberta, having sent me a picture from their Caribbean garden has prompted this post.

It is a sad fact that I cannot abide a banana but have, of course, often had to work with them in my role as a chef in the tropics.

Something, however, that makes me happy about having an abundance of bananas growing about the place is the usefulness of their leaves. I have often picked a leaf or two on my way to work and walking along the lane with my hair in a headwrap (to keep my hair out of the food at work) and the big floppy leaves over my shoulder, I always felt that I had perhaps, gone a little "troppo" which pleases me.

I also very much enjoyed teaching young West Indians how to “enlimpen” the leaf so that it will fold around food – me, a white woman, teaching them, tsk! Banana leaves cut, in a very easy and satisfying way, into useful food wrappers by just running a pair of scissors either side of the main … what – shaft I suppose, and then cutting into neat pieces. Wipe clean with a wet cloth and then, using tongs hold each piece of leaf over an open flame for a minute or two till soft. You can see the leaf darkening as it softens. I understand you can also iron them but I’ve never tried that.

Mostly I used the leaves to make …

Mahi Mahi baked in a Banana Leaf with Tomato, Coconut & Green Chilli

I say “Mahi Mahi,” which is a white firm fleshed fish very commonly used in Tortola. It is also known as dorado and also dolphin but this last upsets people. Cod or haddock or similar would be just as good. Also foil would work instead of the banana leaf but it’s not quite so splendid.

Tomato, Coconut & Green Chilli um ... Stuff

1 can chopped tomatoes
½ block of creamed coconut
½ tsp green chilli pickle
grated zest and juice of ½ a lime

~   Gently heat together the tomatoes and creamed coconut and stir together till melted.
~   Add the chilli pickle, lime zest and juice.
~   Cool. (That is an instruction, not a comment).

For baked fish …

~   Season a nice piece of fish per person and sear in a little oil till browning on both sides.
~   Place on a piece of greased foil (or a limp piece of banana leaf).
~   Spread a tablespoon or a little more of the coconut stuff over each piece of fish.
~   Fold the foil or banana leaf around the fish and filling and, if using a leaf, secure with a toothpick.
~   Bake in a hot oven till cooked through – about 5 minutes.

You may well have some of the coconut/tomato stuff over – it is delicious as a dip for crudités or tortilla chips or whatever. It is also possible to eat it by the spoonful. However today I just made …

Sticky Toffee Banana Shortcakes

Makes 4 x 3” shortcakes

225g self raising flour OR plain flour and a rounded teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch or two of salt
60g cold butter or margarine
1 tbsp sugar + a little for sprinkling
80ml milk

~   Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~   Stir together the flour and salt and baking powder, if using.
~   Add the butter or margarine and “rub in” with your fingers until a breadcrumb texture is achieved.
~   Stir in the tablespoon of sugar.
~   Add the milk and mix in, by hand is easiest, till you have a soft dough.
~   Lightly knead just a few times to bring the dough together.
~   On a floured surface press or roll the dough out to about 2 cm thick and using a cookie cutter cut into 3” rounds.
~   Transfer the scones to a greased baking sheet, brush their tops with a little milk and sprinkle with sugar.
~   Bake in the oven till risen and golden – about 20 minutes.
~   Transfer to a rack to cool.

Filling …

~   Peel and slice the bananas and toss with light brown sugar and a little rum. Set aside till needed.

Sticky Toffee Sauce

This is also delicious on Sticky Toffee Pudding, obviously, and on ice cream.

125g butter
225g soft dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
175ml double cream

~   Melt together the butter and dark brown sugar, stirring all the time.
~   Add the vanilla extract and stir in.
~   Add the cream and stir in completely bring to a fast simmer but do not boil.
~   Cool. 

Split shortcakes and fill with whipped cream, bananas and sauce.

This is such a useful scone recipe that I have written an entire book on the subject;The Secret Life of Scones which gives over 50 delicious things to make with it including doughnuts, dumplings, biscuits (both English and American) and lots more.


Julia - A Slice of Cherry Pie said...

Oh my, I LOVE Sticky Toffee Pudding and these look incredible. I so wish I could dive in. Thanks for entering the bake off! Julia x

Perdita Tinsel said...

OOh lovely recipes- I love banana (phobic of oranges, strangely).

Sudden Lunch ~ Suzy Bowler said...

Used to know a girl who was scared of oranges. She worked in out restaurant kitchen and walked out in a huff, never to return, when we needed her to make Sticky Orange Cake! Uh-oh, just thought, are you her!!?