Echalions AKA Banana Shallot

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I was very exciting when I found this shallots in local supermarket and it is rare! It also known as Echalions, Shallot Figaro, or scientific name Allium cepa of Aggregatum Group. Commonly know as Banana Shallot.

Echalion taking Britain’s kitchens by storm.  This versatile British vegetable, which is a cross between an onion and a shallot, has become the darling of professional kitchens, celebrities chef all over the country because it is so easy to prepare.  And now the secret is out and echalions have found their way onto our supermarket shelves.

They are easier to peel than a traditional shallot. Echalion is the result of a subtle mixture of the intrinsic qualities of the onion and the shallot. From each one, the Echalion has retained only best qualities. These large, oval bulbs have amber-coloured skin that can be peeled back to reveal juicy, white meat that combines the ease of an onion with the sweet, subtle flavour of a shallot.

Top Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, chef/patron of Restaurant Tom Aikens in London explains: “The versatile Echalion can add a subtle hint of flavour or be the main ingredient for any recipe calling for shallots. They are perfect for braising with meats, roasting with vegetables or with soups. Finely chop and add to broths and sauces, or sauté with mushrooms”, says Tom

British grown echalions are usually available from September to Mid-May.  They are grown in the Eastern counties of Britain (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk) where the sandy soil and warmer temperatures provide the ideal growing conditions.

There is no particular reason why you can’t use the banana shallots instead of onions, though they are not a substitute for red onions. You may also find that you need 2 banana shallots instead of a regular onion due to the size difference and milder taste. However they are more expensive than onions and if a strong allium taste is required then you may prefer to use regular onions. You can also substitute banana shallots with regular shallots – just use 2 regular shallots for 1 banana shallot, and do cook slightly more quickly than regular white or yellow onions.

To make it easy to peel, you could cut the root end off and blanche in boiling water for 3 minutes then grip firmly from the ‘leaf-end’ and squeeze the shallot out of its skin – holding with a cloth helps.

Walnut Bread

P1150484AThis bread is a must on any cheeseboard. Many people suggested serving it with a ripe Stilton or failing that, try it with any other strong flavour cheese and a glass of red wine. Often in UK restaurants serve this bread before entree. If you have any leftover of this bread you could pop it into microwave about 5 to 8 second, then spread with butter and you can enjoy it on its own. Here is how I do the bread, I think if you could do it by hand is even better as I feel the food and I get exciting for it when is baked.

  1. Put all the ingredients except the walnuts into a large bowl, (make sure yeast at one side of the bowl and salt at the another side) then mix well with your hands for about 4 minutes.
  2. When all the flour has been incorporated, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and, using your fingers and the heel of your palm, knead for 5 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  3. Line a baking tray. Incorporate the walnuts into the dough, shape into a ball and dust with white flour. Place on the baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Using a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of the dough, then bake the bread for 30 minutes until golden. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

I promised this is the bread you should have to try to make at least once, since most of the restaurant is making this bread as a starter, maybe it can be great for your dinner party as well.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Tart

Joint

I’m not sure is this seductive enough for you to dig into the ice cream tart. I particularly love this way of making ice cream, as you don’t need an ice cream maker and can make ice cream in 5 minutes. This kind of tip came in handy when you need pleasure and indulgence. This 24cm tart can be easily make dessert center piece.

Tart Base

Home made Ice Cream

Whipped cream topping

  • 200ml Double cream
  1. Process the biscuit and butter to sandy rubble and press into the sides and bottom of a deep-sided fluted tart tin. (save some the mixture up for sprinkle later) Place in the freezer (or fridge if that is not possible) for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. To make ice cream, simply pour cream, sugar, cooled peanut butter into small freezer bag, give it a good shake in the bag. In another larger freezer bag half filled it with crushed ice, coarse salt. Quickly put the cream freezer bag into the larger bag. Then give a shake for about 5 to minutes. Make sure the crushed ice is coated the small freezer bag.
  3. Once is done, you can scoop the ice cream onto the tart and leave it in the freezer for a while; while that’s happen, whipping the cream until thick enough to spread over the top of the tart.
  4. Spread the whipped cream onto tart and place the tart in the fridge, preferably overnight, though for at least 4 hours. If you like serving it cold return the tart into a freezer for 10-20 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining biscuit mix on top of the tart.

This is one of the easy tart I had ever made, very comforting. I particular love the vanilla ice cream, is one of the classic ice cream that goes well with mostly everything. This is one of the very versatile tart it can be lemon, vanilla, strawberry… Wonderful!