Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos and pineapple

Mexican salsa verde

I am clearly not a proper foodie. The other day a carton of tomatillos arrived on the back doorstep in our weekly veg box from Riverford and I had no idea what they were. I thought they looked vaguely like Cape gooseberries, so peeled back the papery husk of one and popped it in my mouth. I instantly spat it out again as the sour juices hit my tongue.

On consulting the Riverford website, I discovered these little green fruits were indeed tomatillos, native to Mexico and a staple of Mexican cuisine. It turns out they are actually related to the Cape gooseberry, so I don’t feel a complete plank for stuffing one in my gob.

tomatillos

So, what to do with them? I posted the question on Twitter and Instagram, and the response was almost unanimous: Mexican salsa verde. Who was I to argue? Particularly as were planning a barbecue later that day, and I thought a salsa verde would make a perfect condiment.

But as is my wont, I felt the urge to play with the Riverford recipe I turned to and decided to throw in some ripe pineapple for a little sweet to balance out the sour, an addition that worked out rather well I thought. Some recipes call for cooked tomatillos, but Riverford recommend  using raw as “they retain a sour freshness that would be perfect for a summer’s day”. I rather liked the sound of that. The end result was a vibrant and fresh dip for tortilla chips that works equally well as a tangy accompaniment to grilled steak and fish, particularly when washed down with an ice cold beer.

My nine-year-old loved it while my six-year-old wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – perhaps it was just a little too green for her?

Mexican salsa verde

Mexican salsa verde with tomatillos and pineapple

350g tomatillos, husks removed and washed
½ ripe pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 small onion, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of 1 lime
large handful of fresh coriander (plus a little extra for serving)
1 tsp brown sugar
sea salt

Simply throw all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz them up until you achieve a still chunky salsa texture. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with a little extra chopped coriander.

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I’m entering this Mexican Salsa Verde into August’s Spice Trail challenge, hosted by moi, where the theme is Beach Barbecue.

Grilled salad of courgette, chicory, basil and mozzarella from ‘The Natural Cook’

The umming and ahhing is over. The decision has been made. Our house is now officially on the market and we’ll soon be leaving the sticks and heading back to the big city. Bristol, to be precise, which isn’t exactly a heaving metropolis and is actually one of the most laid back, greenest and coolest cities I know.

Bristol was home for us until our first daughter was about eight months old, at which point we decided family life meant a bit of the good life, the country life. And while we’ve loved it here and having space and green fields around us, a veg patch and apple trees, foraging in the hedgerows, picnics by the stream and drinking scrumpy at the annual village fete, it’s now time to crank the pace back up again with a bit of inner city living. You can take the girl of out of the city, but you’ll never take the city out of the girl, it would seem.

There are lots of things I’m looking forward to about being back in a city. One of them is not having to drive so much to get, well, anywhere really. I love the idea of being able to walk back home after a night in a restaurant, or at least being able to afford the taxi fare. And one of the restaurants I intend on visiting as soon as we’re in Bristol is Tom Hunt’s Poco on Stokes Croft, with its emphasis on seasonal ingredients, thrifty cuts of meat and sustainably sourced fish, most of which is sourced from within a 50-mile radius, and at the same time producing the minimum of food waste. Continue reading

Summer spice and all things nice…

The rain was verging on torrential yesterday in the Westcountry and I was watching telly last night in slippers and a big woolly jumper, wondering if it is too soon to turn the heating back on. So it seems slightly ironic that I’m now sat here writing a round-up of summer spice dishes. The scorching heat of July seems another world now, but hopefully the thought of these deliciously vibrant recipes will brighten the mood just long enough for the sun to make a reappearance.

Summer Spice Collage 1

We start with these tasty Pudina Paneer Tikki or Mint and Indian Cottage Cheese Patties (1) from Linsy at Home Cook Food. Made with mashed potato, grated carrot and paneer and flavoured with lots of mint, lime, chilli and ginger, these would be delicious served with your favourite chutney – or perhaps some of this mouthwatering Usirikaya Pachadi / Goose Berry Pickle (2) from Shailaja over at Sahasra Recipes. Continue reading

Family Foodies round-up: chill out, baby!

Here in Somerset, we’ve been enjoying some real scorchers in recent weeks, which has been perfect for the start of the school holidays. Your entries for July’s Family Foodies challenge have proven simply perfect inspiration for deliciously refreshing ways to chill out in this sticky heat.

chill collage 1

Continue reading

Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda

strawberry and rose ice cream soda

Ever since my step-mum Sue took me for an ice cream soda in the restaurant at Peter Jones in London’s Sloane Square, I’ve been in love with this heavenly combination of fizzy pop (soda), ice cream and syrup. Something simply magical happens when the ice cream hits the fizz and I am instantly transported to seventh heaven. Throw in some of my current favourite ingredient, rose water, and wow – I am in ecstasy.

I have fantasies of one day opening my very own retro soda fountain with mini juke boxes on the counter playing Chantilly Lace and True Love Ways, and this Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda will definitely be featuring on the menu.

It’s every so easy to make. I did use homemade strawberry ice cream (from a Ben & Jerry’s recipe), with gorgeous chunks of juicy strawberries, but of course you can always use shop-bought. But do please make your own strawberry and rose syrup. It takes hardly anytime at all and tastes incredible.

strawberry and rose ice cream soda

Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda

Serves 6

1 litre bottle lemonade, chilled

For the strawberry ice cream

250g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
330g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 large eggs
480ml double cream
240ml milk

Mix together the chopped strawberries, 100g of the caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the remaining 230g of sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Take the strawberries from the fridge and mash to create a chunky puree. Stir this into the egg/cream mixture.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer for around four hours, remembering to give it a good stir every hour to break up any ice crystals that are forming.

For the strawberry and rose syrup

200g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
50g caster sugar
1 tsp rose water
150ml water

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer gently for around 5 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the sugar has melted. Puree with a hand blender. If you like you can strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the seeds. I must admit, I couldn’t be bothered with this stage.

For the ice cream soda

Pour a little strawberry and rose syrup into a tall glass. Add a couple of scoops of strawberry ice cream to the glass, followed by cold lemonade. I love the way it froths up at this point!

Drizzle with a little more syrup to finish. Armed with a straw and a long spoon, you’re good to go. Enjoy!

Strawberry and Rose Ice Cream Soda 4

 

I am entering my Strawberry & Rose ice cream sodas into the following blog events: Let’s Cook With Strawberries (hosted by Simply Sensational Food); Family Foodies (hosted by Bangers & Mash and Eat Your Veg); and Simple and in Season (hosted by My Custard Pie and Ren Behan).

Lets cook with strawberries family-foodies simple

Bobotie spiced beef burgers

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Generally when I make burgers I tend to keep things very simple; just some good quality minced beef, seasoning and perhaps a little chopped onion. But occasionally I fancy a burger that packs a bit more of a flavour punch. This was the mood I found myself in the other day when I was about to make burgers for the barbecue.

Flicking through a few cookbooks for some flavour ideas, I came across a recipe for bobotie, a South Africa favourite, which could be described as a curried meatloaf. I rather liked the sound of beef flavoured with curry spices and fruit chutney. This was the inspiration I needed, and my bobotie spiced burger was born. Fruity and spicy, it was a winner with the whole family, especially the kids who are big fans of dried apricots.

bobotie spiced burgers

I served my bobotie spiced burgers in sesame seed buns with some chargrilled courgettes and red peppers.

Bobotie spiced beef burgers

Makes 6

500g minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli powder
pinch of nutmeg
8 dried apricots, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

Simply place the minced beef and all the other ingredients in a large bowl and combine well.

Using your hands, form the mixture into six balls and then flatten each one into a thick patty.

Cook the burgers on the barbecue for four to five minutes on each side, until just cooked through and ideally a little pink inside – although you’ll probably want to cook them a little longer for young children or pregnant women. Alternatively cook in a griddle pan or under a grill.

Serve in toasted burger buns with salad and perhaps some chargrilled vegetables.

bobotie spiced burgers

I’m entering my bobotie spiced burger into my very own Spice Trail challenge, where the theme this month is Summer Spice.

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I’m also entering my burgers in the Four Seasons Food challenge hosted by Eat Your Veg and Delicieux where the theme for July is Al Fresco.

fsf-summer