Monday, October 01, 2007
The joys of Mock Banana
Meet Elizabeth Craig. She is the owner of the disembodied head that stares out rather nervously from the inside cover of a 1933 edition of 'Entertaining with Elizabeth Craig'. I bought it in a carboot sale this summer. I have grown very fond of Elizabeth who apparently had a kitchen which was a model of perfection: “The ideal kitchen of which every housewife dreams.” There is a touch of the Mona Lisa about her smile. And if you knew what she had to contend with when entertaining you can see why she needed a sense of humour. The book has chapters on dealing with difficult guests, entertaining with or without a maid, with or without electricity.
As I looked through the book for her thoughts on parsnips, a snippet of newspaper fell out. "“Tonight’s Black-Out starts at 7.36 and lasts until 6.22 am tomorrow.” Alongside the black out instructions are recipes for ‘cheap and energy giving vegetables’. Parsnips, it says, can be roasted and mashed with banana essence. This is ‘Mock Banana.’ My father, who grew up during the war, can remember mock banana and it isn't a fond memory.
I ditched the idea of mock banana and put on an apron. Elizabeth Craig always has this effect. I am entertaining with electricity, without a maid and some of my guests do have a tendency to be difficult, at least over vegetables. I took my parsnips and turned them into a puree. Root vegetable purees have been a successful ruse with Freddie who liked celeriac puree. The weather has become very dull and it is drizzling with rain and when I looked at the parsnip puree, I thought it looked a little pale, a little too English in its colouring. So I added a pinch of paprika which did the trick. The vegetable equivalent of a quick spray tan. Freddie gave this 7 out of 10 which was respectable and we ate it with sausages.
Serves 4 as a side dish
450g parsnip, peeled and sliced
A knob of butter
1 tbsp of crème-fraiche or single cream
1 tbsp of milk
Salt and pepper to season
Pinch of ground paprika
Peel and slice the parsnip. Put them in a pan of boiling water and cook until tender. Drain them well and put in a food processor. Blend until it is a puree with a little salt and pepper to taste. Add the crème-fraiche or cream, milk, butter and a little ground paprika. Process again and serve. It is great as an accompaniment to lamb or pork chops or sausages.