Banana Blossom Salad

Banana Blossom Thai Salad 2Banana Bell1

Banana Blossom Salad

Ingredients

1 medium banana blossom

One stalk lemon grass

Spring onion leaves

½ cup Vietnamese mint leaves [blanch in boiling water or it will be too tough]

2 tbsp tamarind

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp palm or demerera sugar

8 – 10 pieces of Gyoza

Vietnamese mint
Vietnamese mint
Banana Blossom
Soak peeled fingers or flowers in lemon water

Roast and then dry grind together:

4 tbsp dried prawn

4tbsp coconut

One or two dried chillies depending on how hot you like it
toasted coconut

Method

Fill a bowl with water. Cut one lemon in half. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the water and drop the lemon rinds into thedried prawns water too when finished. Peel the flowers to make the banana blossom salad.

Banana Bell
Remove stamen in the centre of each flower finger

Guide to peeling

After you peel each finger of the blossom, remove the tough stamen in the centre, then drop the peeled fingers/flowers into the lemon water.

Ideally these fingers/flowers should be light yellow but as I leave them on my banana comb as long as it takes for the fruits to form completely, I have found that my blossom fingers are usually brown, but that’s all right. It’s still edible and tasty. If you are buying at the Asian grocery shop, then look out for a blossom that is firm and does not have wilted petals.

Prepare the dressing by mixing tamarind, fish sauce and sugar.

Finely slice lemon grass and spring onions.

Blanch frozen gyoza in hot water for about 1 – 2 minutes

Drain the flowers in a colander then in a large salad bowl add the flowers, the blanched Vietnamese mint, the sliced lemon grass and spring onions and then toss with the dressing.Banana Blossom serving suggestion3

Add the ground coconut prawn mixture and toss again and finally mix in the gyoza gently. Do not toss or mix vigorously or the gyoza will break. There is no need for salt because the dried prawns and fish sauce provide the salt this banana blossom salad needs.

Serving Suggestion: Serve with rice and bitter melon chutney

Banana Blossom serving suggestion2

 

Saving Grace of Chokos

Choko pie

My husband, Kevin, came home from work one day with a large bag full of chokos. He asked me if I had ever seen this fruit. No. Never. I was intrigued. It resembled the guava fruit from Malaysia that I was familiar with.

A lady working at his client’s office had an abundant crop and decided to give some to Kevin.

“She had given away bags and bags to every single person in the office and had run out of people to give them to. So she gave them to me,” said Kevin with a grin.

“But what are they?” I asked apprehensively.

“It’s called the poor man’s food. Pop [Kevin’s grandfather] used to eat it all the time during the Depression. His family cooked it in so many different ways so they wouldn’t grow tired of it.”

I showed the chokos to our daughter and asked her if she had ever seen chokos and she said “No.”

This food which had been the staple diet and probably saved the lives of many families during the Depression is all but forgotten today. Chokos are considered a vegetable and this name is unique in Australia because it is normally known as Chayote.

The reason so many families relied on it then was that it is a vigorous grower and needs very little attention. They produce in abundance and as one person who lived through the Depression put it, “one choko tree can feed a small town”.  They are also rich in amino acids and vitamin C. They grow on vines that can reach up to 10 metres and some people today use it as a shade crop for their chicken coop, shed or verandah without much interest in the vegetable itself.

An interesting advert from Women’s Weekly 26 May 1934

choko
Juicing choko, celery and pumkin leaves

Of course this article pinned was two years after the Great Depression and you will find the recipe here is a little more exciting than the plain boiled chokos gracing the dinner tables of those many poor families.

I daresay I put my lot to good use through juicing and making a delicious choko pie. As the choko has the unique quality of absorbing the taste of whatever it is cooked with it is said the poor who could not afford apples or pears would use a trick where they would stew a few apples with a larger ratio of chokos and the chokos would take on the apple flavour. Apparently you could not tell the difference.

As for my personal experience I found it to be mildly sweet after steaming. So I did not need much sugar. When cut the light green custard-like filling oozed out of the choko pie from under a pile of mixed nuts.  Check out this simple and delicious recipe for Choko PieChokoPie4

You can’t buy chokos in stores these days but rather from people growing them in their backyards.

Choko Pie

Choko recipe
Choko or Chayote
Choko pie
slice of choko pie

Ingredients

5 medium size chokos

3/4 cup raw sugar (75 gm)

1 1/2 cup of mixed nuts

100 g  arrowroot/tapioca flour

Pie Pastry Crust

Click for recipe

Method

  • Steam the chokos and then blend to a paste in a food processor
  • Pour one quarter of the blended chokos into a pan and add sugar. Heat over low fire until the sugar has melted.
  • Add rest of the blended choko and flour and mix till it thickens. This should only take a minute or two. Turn off the stove and let it cool.
  • You need only half of the Pie Pastry Crust dough to line the bottom of a round 10-inch or 25 cm pie dish as the top will be covered with the nuts.
  • If you are freshly making the Pie Pastry Crust dough, leave the amount of dough you intend to use for the pastry in the freezer for 20 minutes. Then roll out the dough that was in the freezer into a circle and line the bottom of your pie dish. Prick the pastry base evenly all over with a fork. Put the dough-lined dish into the freezer for about 15 mins to reduce shrinkage when baking. Meanwhile heat the oven to about 200 °C.
  • Blind bake the Pie Pastry Crust. When nicely brown, let it cool down before pouring the choko mixture into the pie casing. Sprinkle the mixed nuts evenly all over the top of the choko mixture. With a spatula, gently press down so the nuts are properly embedded into the mixture.
  • Place the pie in the fridge for about an hour before serving.

Related blog: Saving Grace of Chokos

 

Red Velvet Cake

Red velvet cake made with beetroot
Red velvet cake made with beetroot

Usually red velvet cake is made with red food colouring. This is the REAL red velvet cake which is naturally coloured by beetroot from my garden. You will not find this cake bright red as you would see in commercial bakeries but it does have a reddish hue. Despite the chocolate giving it an overall dark appearance, you can still make out the maroonish colour of the cake. This is definitely healthier than adding colour to your cake.

Coconut milk chocolate pieces in the sliced Red Velvet
Coconut milk chocolate pieces in the sliced Red Velvet

Ingredients

300g beetroot

200 ml or 2/3 cup coconut cream

150g raw sugar

150g demerera sugar

4 free range eggs

1/2 cup oat milk

350 g wholemeal flour

4 tbsp raw organic cacao powder

100g block of organic coconut milk raw chocolate

Pinch of salt

Method

Preparation

  • Steam beetroot until soft. Leave to cool. Then blend in a food processor until smooth.
  • Line baking pan with baking paper
  • Roughly chop up the block of chocolate
  • Make a dry mixture of flour, cacao powder, salt and chopped up chocolate in a bowl

Process

  • Beat sugar and coconut cream in a bowl. Add eggs one by one
  • Add oat milk and then beetroot puree
  • Pour the mixture into the dry mixture and fold in with a large spoon