Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Perfect Pairs--Who Knew? Strawberry&Cilantro, Tomatoe&Black Tea and Banana&Cloves

Sundried Tomatoe & Black Tea Breadsticks (see recipe below)
Last week, while driving home during rush-hour and listening to my favourite CBC-Radio Ottawa drive-home show, All in A Day, the host Alan Neal interviewed a guest about food ingredient pairings and the latest discovery-suggestions from the scientific community. His guest mentioned four unusual ingredient combinations which would be very likely to taste good together and Alan put out a challenge to listeners to come up with  creative recipes using the pairings. I recited the four pairings to myself over and over until I could find a pen and write them down;  Strawberry-Cilantro, Tomatoe-Black Tea, Banana-Cloves and Mussels and Sake. I am a Mussel fan but not so much on the Sake side so I didn't attempt anything with that combo. As for the other three? My mind was racing....I had so many ideas I could barely sleep that night. Alas, I created and finalized these three finalist recipes incorporating the foods I love most; cod/halibut (with strawberries and cilantro), bread made with organic Fife flour (with sundried tomatoes and black tea) and icebox shortbread cookies (with dried banana chips and cloves).  After two retests and a few adjustments to the ingredients and quantities, I think all three recipes turned out pretty well....but why don't you give 'em a try and tell me what you think? I'd love to hear!

I'll be a guest on the D is for Dinner segment of All in A Day this afternoon (91.5 FM in Ottawa Wed Apr 17) at 3:20 pm so tune in to hear what other listeners came up with as well! If you miss the show you can catch it later at click on Past Episodes and look for Wed Apr 17 D is for Dinner. Until next time, happy cooking adventures!

Strawberries & cilantro salsa with balsamic-marinated Cod or Halibut
Makes 4 servings:
Clean and finely chop:
·        1/2 cup cilantro, divided into two ¼ cup portions

In a small bowl mix together marinade:
·        2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
·        2 tbsp brown sugar
·        1 tbsp olive oil
·        1 clove garlic, finely chopped
·        ½ tsp pepper
·        ¼ cup of the chopped cilantro
·        400 g frozen cod or halibut fillets, thawed 

Preheat oven to 425. Line a shallow oven roasting dish (big enough to hold the fillets side by side) with tin foil. Pat dry fish with paper towel and place in the roasting dish. With a pastry brush, brush marinade onto fish. Let marinade for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours, refrigerated. Roast fish in oven for 30-40 minutes. Fish is done when it flakes apart easily when poked with a fork.

Meanwhile prepare strawberry-cilantro mixture
Tip: You can freeze the salsa for later use but leave out the chopped green onion until serving time so it doesn’t trump the mellow loveliness of the strawberry-cilantro combo.
Mix together:
·        2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, stems removed and chopped into ½ inch cubes
·        Remaining ¼ cup of chopped cilantro
·        1 tbsp olive oil

·        Reserve and set aside to add to strawberry mixture just before serving
1 green onion – chopped

When fish is ready, using a flat spatula, serve portions on dinner plates and place strawberry-cilantro mixture beside or on top of the fish. Serve with couscous and your favourite green vegetables.

Stwarberry-Cilantro Salsa with Balsamic Marinated Cod
Twisted! Breadsticks with sun-dried tomatoes and black tea
Makes 36 breadsticks

Prepare and set aside for topping breadsticks at the baking stage:
·        ¼ cup Loose orange pekoe tea leaves-crumbled-DIVIDED in half; one to add to the dough and the other to sprinkle on top when baking.
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds for topping
- 1 to 2 tbsp Coarse or Kosher salt for topping (I added the Salt to this stage to give the sticks a bit more flavour...they seemed a little flat otherwise!)

Prepare and set aside:
·        1/3 cup sundried tomatoes packed in oil, well-drained, finely chopped and patted dry on paper towel
·        Use 2 tbsp of the Loose orange pekoe tea leaves-crumbled

Place these ingredients in the breadmaker in the order given. Set on dough cycle and press start.
·        1 1/3 cups cooled or room temperature Black Tea (I made a pot of tea using 2 tea bags of good ‘ole Tetley tea)
·        3 tbsp olive oil
·        2 tsp Barley Malt (available at Bulk Barn in a glass jar near the honey and corn syrup)
·        2 tsp salt
·        3 cups organic Fife flour (available at the Bulk Barn)
·        ½ cup all-purpose flour
·        2 tsp bread machine yeast

When the breadmaker’s “Add Ingredient” signal sounds (or about 10-15 minutes into the kneading and mixing cycle), add:
·        Prepared Sundried Tomatoes and 2 tbsp of loose tea

Meanwhile, lightly oil two baking sheets or one large pizza pan and sprinkle with semolina or cornmeal and set aside.

Whisk together:
·        1 egg white
·        2 tbsp water

Prepare mixture to sprinkle on breadsticks. Mix together and set aside:
Use the remaining 2 tbsp loose orange pekoe tea-crumbled
2 tbsp sesame seeds

When dough is ready, punch down. Relying on your early math skills, divide dough into 36 equal pieces. I use this method:
·        divide the lump of dough into 4 even pieces,
·        then divide each ¼ into 3 pieces.  You now have 12 pieces,
·        now, divide each of these 12 pieces into 3 pieces.
·        You now have 36 pieces and each piece will be formed into a breadstick.

Roll each piece between your palms or on a breadboard to form a long, skinny rope about 8-10 inches long. Twist slightly and pinch ends to hold the twist, or leave untwisted depending on how you feel. Place strips on the prepared baking sheets. Brush lightly with oil. Cover loosely with saran wrap and a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Another way to make breadsticks is:
This makes 40 breadsticks. Shape the dough into a rectangle 12 inches x 8 inches, about ¼ of an inch thick. Cover with a tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the dough lengthwise into 4 equal pieces, then cut each piece lengthwise into 10 pieces.  Stretch each strip until it is 10 inches long. Place the strips about ½ an inch apart on the baking sheets. Brush lightly with oil. Cover loosely with saran wrap and a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Brush egg wash lightly on breadsticks. Sprinkle with tea, sesame seed and coarse salt mixture. Press the topping lightly into each breadstick with fingertips.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Serving suggestion: Place breadsticks in a square glass vase and serve with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. They are lovely plain as they are too!

Banana Clove Icebox Cookies
June Cleaver Banana-Clove Ice Box Cookies
You’ll need a food processor or your own brute strength to whip these up. Get your motors running…
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp banana extract
2 1/4 cups white all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped dried banana pieces
1 tsp dried cloves (I used just one tsp but 1 1/2 tsp could probably work too. I didn't want to overpower the banana flavour...)
1 tsp coarse salt

In a food processor, mix together butter and sugar on low speed until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and banana extract then pulse on low speed until mixed in. Add flour, ½ cup banana pieces, cloves and salt and mix on low speed until combined and mixed. TIP: If the mixture is not completely blending together in the food processor, place the mixture in a large mixing bowl and knead together with your hands.
Remove dough from machine and divide in half. Tear off two pieces of parchment paper to roll dough logs in. You may also use wax paper instead of parchment paper. On one of the sheets of parchment paper, shape a 12-inch log (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter) from one of the pieces of dough. Smooth out log and roll fairly tightly in the parchment paper, twisting the ends to seal. Repeat with second piece of dough. Freeze both logs until quite firm. 1 hr or overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare this mixture to roll the logs in before slicing and baking:
Mix together and set aside:
¼ cup chopped dried banana pieces, ½ cup white sugar, 1/4 tsp cloves

Beat and set aside:
1 egg white

Heat oven to 375F. Oven racks should be on the middle shelves of the oven.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove logs from freezer and let them warm up a little to room temperature to make them easier to slice. TIP: They should be firm but fairly easy to slice with a super-duper sharp knife.
Unwrap one log and keep it on the parchment paper. Brush the log with the egg white, then roll it in the banana pieces, sugar and cloves mixture. Cut the log  into ¼ inch slices and place on one of the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place about ½ inch apart. Repeat steps for second log.
Bake until lightly browned around the edges, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove with spatula and let them cool on a cookie rack. Store in the refrigerator or freeze. Serve with fresh cantaloupe and vanilla frozen yogurt.


Karina said...

I really do enjoy your literary and cooking skills. Next time I am back in Ottawa we have to get together again.

Barrhaven Bites said...

Karina, I really enjoyed our visit to the market too. Let me know when you are heading eastward again. Would love to see you!