Tag Archives: BBQ food

Super Calamansi-istic

Corn and Calamansi Salsa

Salsa Alidocious!

As you will have seen from my Philippine Tasting Plate, I brought back a few things to use in my home cooking. And what better way to celebrate the recent good weather we’ve been enjoying than to use tropical ingredients?

I got the idea for this dish from a corn salsa I ate at Tomatillo. As is often the way, restaurant food inspires my dishes. The Tomatillo salsa is nice, but I knew that I could twist it a bit to make it even better.

I was already thinking that it needed courgette. Then I remembered the calamansi that I had packed away so carefully, and that was now residing in my fridge. I knew that I had to try to make the dish that began a while ago, and had now taken root in my brain.

Calamansi

Calamansi – about the same diameter as a 10 p piece (or €2)

Calamansi is a small citrus fruit. You can use them like limes, in salads dressings and to season stocks etc, but they are also a popular drink in the Philippines, as well as being a key ingredient in sisig. They are both sweet and sour at the same time, and have a lot of flavour despite their diminutive size.

They also have a lot of pips. I was going to chance my arm and see what would happen if I planted a few, but I forgot to tell the Big Guy what I was doing, and they got thrown out. Ah well, I know that growing citrus from seed is notoriously unreliable, so I probably saved myself a fair bit of disappointment in any case.

I first made this salsa for a birthday canal boat picnic I held for the Big Guy. It was great as a dip with tortilla chips. I was a little nervous to present it as salsa to that crowd, amongst whom were some Americans who have an in-depth knowledge of all things Tex-mex. I have previously been taken to task for a guacamole, because I had put tomato in it, which apparently makes it pico de gallo, and not guacamole. I have also been told my (Mexican recipe) chile con carne is not a real Chile (but the consensus was that it was very tasty). I needn’t have worried, this went down a treat with everyone on the boat. And no-one objected to me calling it a salsa.

I have since served this at a barbecue, where it was similarly well received, and went equally well as a garnish with my home made burgers as it did with vegan enchiladas. I think it would be great as a salad as well.

I made this with tinned corn, but you could also use fresh a little later in the year, although I’d recommend grilling it in the husk first on either the barbecue or under a hot grill. Then shuck and add to the salsa.

Recipe: Corn and Calamansi Salsa

Ingredients

1 red onion, finely chopped

Juice and zest of 6-8 calamansi (or one lime)

½ courgette, finely diced

1  tin of sweetcorn, drained (or one whole corn cob, grilled and shucked)

1-2 red chilis, deseeded and finely chopped

Small bunch coriander, including stalks, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

Method

If, like me, you dislike raw onion then steep the chopped onion in the calamansi juice and zest for at least 10 minutes before you make the rest of the salsa. The amount of calamansi that you need will depend on the size of your onion. You should ave enough juice to just coat all of the onion. I have made this twice, and needed different amounts each time.

Raw courgette doesn’t taste of much, which puts many people off trying them twice. The secret to bringing out the flavour is to blanch them.  Because these are finely diced, they only need to be steeped in boiling water for about 30 seconds or so. If you like, you could squeeze a little more calamansi juice (or a couple of drops of lime) into the water. Drain immediately, and run under the cold tap to stop them cooking further. Allow to drain completely. The courgette will now taste of courgette, but will still have a bit of bite.

Mix together the onion, courgette, sweetcorn and chili. Season well, and set aside the salsa for about an hour to allow the flavours to meld. Taste, and add more chili, citrus juice or salt and pepper to taste. Stir through the chopped coriander and serve.

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Beans, Beans are good for your …Burgers!

Bulgur & Bean Veggie Burger

Barbecues – Not Just for Carnivores

You may have gathered by now that I like to barbecue. We don’t have a fancy grill or gas burner, and rely on simple charcoal. I don’t really see the point in lighting up a barbie if it is only going to be the two of us, so I tend to supersize mine, and invite loads of people. I’m pretty well-practiced at it now, and can happily cope with 20-30 guests.

We fill a baby bath with ice, for the drinks to chill in, and I set about making the things that will go onto it, with various salads, and dips. There are a few things that must feature – ribs, sausages, vegetable skewers, and of course burgers. I make my own meat burgers, and I don’t leave out veggie friends.

BBQ used as heat for guests

Burn All The Things

Of course, as is tradition, I do all the prep work, and step back to let the Big Guy get the glory, as he (and often a few other grill kings/ queens) ‘caramelises’ my food.

I am not a fan of fake meats. I know that they have saved many a vegetarian at a barbecue, but they just aren’t for me. These vegan burgers are not pretending to be meaty, I think that their flavour and texture is good enough to speak for themselves. And they are great in a bun!

The recipe is a good basis for a veggie burger. From here, you can change the spice mix, substitute coriander for the parsley, use fresh chilli instead of the cayenne pepper, or add nuts or some other vegetables to the mix. I have made a few variations myself. I’d love to hear your variations, and maybe steal them give them a try.

These burgers keep well in the fridge or freezer, and you can cook them in a frying pan too, if you don’t have enough people round light the barbecue.

You may have noticed that a lot of my recipes have been veggie or vegan lately. This is because a friend recently cycled the Dunwich Dynamo, and I agreed to “sponsor” him by signing up to reduce my carbon through Do-Nation. This is a great way of getting people to do a few simple green actions for a short period of time, to see how they get on. It is also a lovely way to help people to feel involved in supporting your event without asking them to donate money, which can be a little awkward in these straightened times. The actions themselves are not too difficult to achieve, and it may get a few people to continue to do them, after all it is supposed to take 30 days to form a habit, so after 2 months it may be second nature.

Peter managed to smash the carbon target that he set himself at the start. I chose the Veg Out option. I really don’t eat all that much meat, so for two months, I have pledged to cut it even further, and also to go vegan a couple of days a week.

The Dunwich Dynamo took place over the weekend, and so far reports are that my friend is very happy, and a little sore, but I expect that there will be no lasting problems. Congratulations Pete, on getting your friends to take some small carbon friendly actions, and for the epic ride!

Bulgur & Bean Burgers Ready to Grill

Grill Ready

Ingredients

200 g dried beans, or one can. I usually use kidney or brown beans here, but the variety is really up to you.

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp cayenne pepper

100 g bulgur wheat

400 ml vegetable stock

1 tbsp soy sauce

Good bunch of parsley, finely chopped

Method

If you are using dried beans, soak them for a few hours. Drain then bring them to the boil in fresh, unsalted water. Cook until they are tender. You’ll probably need at least 40 mins for this, but it depends on the age of the beans. Don’t be tempted to salt the beans, or you will make the skins tough.

If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them, and heat them in fresh, unsalted water.

It is best to work with warm ingredients, as they bind a bit better, so try to get all the ingredients cooked at roughly the same time. If you are using dried beans, they will need to be started first, if you are using tinned, they should be warmed through as you come to the end of the bulgur preparation.

In a dry pan, toast the cumin seeds until they give off their characteristic scent. Keep them moving, as they will catch quickly. Once they are done, remove immediately to a mortar or a spice grinder.

Add a little oil to the warm pan, and sweat the onion on a gentle heat. You don’t want to colour the onion.

Meanwhile, grind up the cumin, and add the cayenne and garlic, and grind up to a paste. Add to the translucent onion, and fry until the aroma begins to waft.

Add the bulgur and stir to coat all of the grains in the onion and spice and oil. Add the stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the stock has been absorbed.

When the beans are done, drain, but don’t discard the cooking water. If the burger mix is too crumbly, you can add a bit of this to help it to bind.

Mix the soy, beans and parsley into the bulgur mix. Use the stalks of the herb too, as they pack loads of flavour. Set aside about a quarter of the mixture, and then pulse the rest in a blender until it is comes together. You want it to be sticky, but not a paste.

Add the reserved mixture from earlier, for texture and stir well.

Make patties by rolling lumps into balls in your hands, and then flattening on a board to make the burger. They will look surprisingly round. This is normal.

Chill for at least an hour before you grill them, to help them retain their shape. Grill or fry on either side over low coals. Preferably on a summer’s day. You may be able to make great burgers, but you can’t control the weather!

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