Tempted by a Tomatillo? Only if they are Curried.

Tomatillo? What’s that I here you cry… Well the official answer is the Mexican relative of a cape gooseberry and here are some examples:

Now I know they look under ripe and not very tempting, but after a couple of weeks of experimenting due to their arrival in our veg box, I think I might have the measure of them.

We started off trying them raw in a salad, always a good place to start I think. They are fairly hard and quite sour so whilst that was fine, we moved on to incorporating them in a guacamole style salsa to go with a chilli.

Now that worked really well: into a bowl combine some chopped avocado and equal quantities of chopped tomato and tomatillo. Mash together a little and add some chopped coriander and a little salt and pepper. The sourness of the tomatillos removes the need for lime juice.

Then last night I thought they might work well in a curry and so made my version of Cornish Chicken Curry. Cornish Chicken Curry!! What can be Cornish about Mexican fruits or Indian Curry. Ah well, Cornish Chicken Curry is by definition a dish of ‘using up stuff’ and what do we all have half a jar of in the fridge? A jar of curry paste, along with a few bits and pieces of veg which are looking long past their sell by date and the omnipresent store cupboard staple, a tin of tomatoes.

So this version of the curry went something like this (for 4): fry off a couple of smallish thinly sliced onions in a slug of oil for 5 minutes or so until soft and then add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a sliced green chilli and 1 cm or 2 of grated fresh ginger. Stir all that around for 2 or 3 minutes, add some diced chicken (around 400-500g) and stir frequently until the chicken has coloured on all sides and then add a couple of tablespoons of curry paste, the tomato based ones work best like Balti or Rogan Josh. Add a diced pepper, 5 or 6 chopped tomatillos and any other veg you fancy, a tin of tomatoes and a cup of water, allow to come to the boil and simmer until the chicken and veg are cooked through. Season if required and serve with rice. The tomatillos again give a lovely sharp tang to the dish and do retain their form like peppers, a real winner.

Chicken curry essentially all looks the same so I haven’t taken a picture of that, but here’s the salad we tried: baby beetroot, potato, smoked salmon, samphire, dill and goat’s cheese. The tomatillos were superfluous frankly but the rest was nice enough. Top with a sprinkling of toasted flaked almonds.

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The Unloved Vegetables No. 2 – Bye Bye Beetroot

Well according to my chart, we are very much at the end of the beetroot season, is this a good thing? Well it probably depends how you are getting on with the heap you may have lurking in the garage/shed/bottom of the fridge from the veg box delivery. It’s possibly a bit late in the day to be worrying about what you might do with them, but on the other hand – how about one last push to eat, or get others to eat, them safe in the knowledge that they won’t feature again until next winter.

The quick one here would definitely be to wash, peel and chunk and add to similarly sized chunks of swede, celeriac and/or carrots (the other potentially unloved veggies with presence at the moment). Roast in a hot oven 220°C/fan 200°C in a roasting tray with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a sprig or two of thyme would also be good here. Make sure all the chunks are coated with the oil and cook, turning occasionally to prevent sticking, for around 25 minutes or so depending on the chunk size. Great with roast meat, chops, baked fish or on their own with feta cheese sprinkled over, chopped parsley and a squirt of lemon on a bed of couscous.

Alternatively you can hide beetroot in chocolate cake. Yep you heard me right. I tried this yesterday with a Hummingbird Recipe. They were divine, the texture is velvety like the red velvet cupcakes and for a minute I did think one could use this batter instead of the traditional red velvet batter as an alternative. The beetroot batter had a distinctly red hue about it, but upon cooking it turned brown. The upside to that though is no one would ever know the secret ingredient so no chance of rejection. The recipe I used was from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book. I have had a look online, but can’t find it there. The other recipes I have come across do seem more of a faff. The picture is of three un-iced and one iced with chocolate buttercream to demonstrate how innocent they look.

However my most favourite thing to do with beetroot, and I think this might be turning into a bit of a theme, is to make soup. Looking back through a couple of recipe books, making beetroot soup can seem a bit of a palaver, but in fact I think I have honed it down to something very straightforward.

So: wash around 4 beetroot (amount is not critical) and peel with a potato peeler. Dice, along with a medium potato. Chop an onion and fry until transparent in a little olive oil, and then add the diced beetroot and potato and about 1 inch worth of grated ginger. Allow to sweat on a lowish heat for 5/10 minutes and towards the end of this time, add a little crushed garlic. Pour in 800 mls – 1 litre of veg stock, bring to the boil and cook until the veg is tender. Blend. In a separate small bowl combine 2 good tablespoons of soured cream and a teaspoon of hot horseradish (see pic) and then add this to the soup and stir in along with about another teaspoon of grated ginger. Season. This has a very subtle hint of the ginger and horseradish, can be left out all together or stepped up for more of a kick. Yummy. Dill can be added as a garnish, for a flourish, if serving as a dinner party starter!

Very, Very Yummy

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