Mum’s caramel bananas

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Caramel bananas with banana and dulce de leche icecream

My childhood treat of caramel bananas is given a makeover, with the addition of a super easy ice cream and the bitter crunch of praline. Can you ever have too much caramel?

 

icecream:

4 over ripe bananas

1 cup dulce de leche*

 

praline:

¾ cup caster sugar

½ cup almonds

 

bananas:

60g butter

½ cup brown sugar

4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut in thick slices on an angle

 

To make ice cream, blend bananas in a food processor until smooth. Add dulche leche and blend. Pour into a plastic container and place in freezer for 4 hours until firm.

To make praline, line a baking tray with baking paper.

Heat a heavy based frypan over high heat. Slowly sprinkle in the sugar, allowing it to melt before adding more. As it melts, stir with a wooden spoon to ensure it doesn’t burn. Keep adding the sugar and stirring until it is a dark golden brown colour.

Quickly add the almonds and pour the mixture onto the tray.

Allow to cool, then break into large chunks and place in a food processor. Pulse until roughly crushed.

For the bananas, melt butter in a pan over medium heat, add brown sugar and stir. Cook for 5 minutes or so, stirring, until caramel forms. Add sliced banana and continue to cook until banana is soft and golden.

Remove from heat and drizzle over any extra caramel from the pan.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream and sprinkle with praline.

Serves 4.

 

*To Make Dulce de leche:

 

Place a tin of condensed milk in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours, topping up with extra water to keep the tin covered. Remove and allow to cool.

 

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Cherries

The arrival of local cherries in the markets means two things: summer and Christmas. Unfortunately, the cherry season only lasts 100 days, so it is a matter of enjoying this seasonal fruit whilst you can. Cherries are available from November to February, with different varieties harvested at different times. The flavours range from mild to rich and sweet, and some are slightly tart or sour.

As well as being delicious, cherries are a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants and have a low GI.

When shopping for cherries, look for green stalks and shiny bright skins. The flesh should be plump and taut. The skin becomes dull when it is overripe. Avoid cherries that are soft and bruised or small and hard. Once picked, cherries will not ripen further, so are best consumed within 4 days of purchase. They last longer with the stem attached. Store cherries, unwashed and loosely packed, in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge. Only wash cherries just before eating as this can make them soft. Cherries can be frozen too. Wash first, then dry and store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cherries are crisp and refreshing served simply in a bowl of crushed ice. Or piled high, as an impressive centrepiece to your Christmas table. They are equally brilliant when cooked and work well with flavours like cinnamon, chocolate, coconut and almonds. Try pickling cherries for a taste sensation. Or start the day with my bircher muesli. For a fast and easy dessert, whip up my cherry sorbet.

Cherries are inextricably linked to our memories of carefree days of summer holidays. As Nigel Slater puts it “A bag of cherries is a bag of happiness”.

 

Seared carpaccio of beef with remoulade and pickled cherries

 

beef carpaccio photo Marina Oliphant

 

This is a perfect  dish for summer entertaining. Make a large platter and serve it in the middle of the table. The beef is served delicately raw on the inside, with a seared crust. If you prefer to cook the meat through, place in a 200C preheated oven for around 20 minutes. Allow it to rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

 

Pickled Cherries

425ml white wine vinegar

12 pepper corns

12 allspice berries

350g sugar

3 bay leaves

500g fresh cherries

 

celeriac remoulade

1 small celeriac, peeled

sea salt to season

juice of ½ lemon

5 tbsp good quality mayonnaise

½ cup chopped parsley

 

carpaccio

2 tbsp black peppercorns

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tbsp salt

1.5 kg fillet of beef

2 tbsp horseradish cream

200ml crème fraiche

juice 1 lemon

handful picked watercress

100g shaved parmesan

 

To make the pickled cherries, bring the wine vinegar, peppercorns, allspice, sugar and bay leaves to a simmer in a small pot. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before pouring over the cherries. Pickle for a day before placing in the fridge where they will keep indefinitely. Serve at room temperature.

For the remoulade, thinly slice the celeriac, preferably on a mandolin. Then, julienne finely into thin strips. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and allow to sit for a few minutes. Mix mayonnaise, lemon juice and parsley together, add celeriac and mix thoroughly. Set aside.

For the beef, place peppercorns, coriander seeds and salt in a mortar and pound with a pestle until coarsely ground. Rub all over the beef fillet, pressing in well.

Heat a grill pan or large frypan until very hot and sear the meat for around 5 minutes until brown and crispy on all sides. Remove from pan and rest for 10 minutes, then slice thinly and arrange on a platter.

Mix horseradish cream with crème fraiche and thin out with a little lemon juice to make a pouring consistency.

Drizzle over platter of beef slices, garnish with watercress and shaved parmesan. Serve with remoulade and pickled cherries.

 

Serves 6.

 

cherry bircher muesli

 

cherry bircher muesli photo Marina Oliphant

Bircher muesli is a fantastic way to start the day; it can be made ahead and the addition of cherries makes it festive enough for Christmas morning.

 

1 cup cherries, pitted and halved

1 ½  cup rolled oats

1 ½ cup fruit juice (try fresh coconut juice or apple juice)

1 ½ cup natural yoghurt

½ (half) cup toasted flaked almonds

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

2 tsp sesame seeds

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1-2 tbsp honey to taste

extra cherries and yoghurt to serve

 

Combine all ingredients together and stir well.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Serve with extra cherries and yoghurt.

 

Serves 4.

 

 

cherry sorbet

 

cherry sorbet photo Marina Oliphant

 

This is not a traditional ice cream recipe, but it still has great ice cream-like texture. Not only is it quick and easy to make, you don’t need an ice cream machine. This recipe is also great with other berries.

 

300g frozen pitted cherries

½ (half) cup caster sugar

2 large egg whites

 

Chop cherries roughly and place in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed for a few minutes to break up. Add sugar and egg whites and whisk on high speed 5 minutes, until more than doubled in volume.

Place mixture in a 1 litre container and freeze for 4 hours (or overnight if possible).

Remove from freezer to serve.

 

makes 1 litre.