The three taste sensations are :
1. The rhubarb barbecue sauce;
2. The baked sweet potatoes;
3. The chilli cream that went in the sweet potatoes.
(And the pork was pretty special, too! The salad, well, it was salad. What can I say?).
Let's deal with the barbecue sauce first.
I put "BBQ Pork" on the menu list for this week, fully expecting to do my usual chilli/soy/honey mix for the pork steaks. However, in browsing food blogs during the week I spotted a recipe for Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce from IslandVittles.com. As I am sure you will appreciate (from the title of the blog, if nothing else!) any recipe involving rhubarb and I'm interested. (I've also bookmarked their Rhubarb Gin for future reference).
It looked, from the recipe, as though it could be a bit of a fiddle to make. However, it was rhubarb and deserved further investigation. In fact, I couldn't have been more wrong. The recipe (available on the IslandVittles.com blogsite) is easy peasy to make, involving chopping rhubarb and onion, then a bit of frying and mixing (sugar and tomato paste), followed by boiling and simmering (with herbs & spices), then a bit more mixing (with Dijon mustard, cider vinegar and honey). Couldn't have been any easier. Because I was making a half-size batch, I didn't simmer mine for the full hour as it seemed to be quite thick enough at around a half an hour.
I, too, used a stainless steel tea ball for the bouquet garni ingredients. Well, all except the bay leaf which was easy enough to extract at the end. I didn't have a whole dried chilli, so just included some dried chilli flakes into the tea ball. One other difference was that as I can't abide cloves, I used a star anise which also went into the tea ball. I reckon that tea ball was a genius idea for using whole spices which you ultimately want to extract - and I may well use it again in curries.
The end result was a Barbecue Sauce of some considerable character. Tasted on its own, it definitely made your taste buds sit up and take notice, but when smoothed onto pork steaks, it moved from "great" to "superb".
I heartily commend it to you, especially as we are in the height of Barbecue season. We must be, it's raining!
So, the second taste sensation was the baked sweet potatoes. Why have we never considered baking a sweet potato before now? We kept asking ourselves this last night, as we were tucking into that gorgeous sweet orange flesh that went so well with the Barbecue pork.
After all, they are easy enough to prepare for baking - a simple wash under the tap and a good old scrub with a potato brush and they're ready to be rubbed in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and into the oven they go. No different to a normal baked potato.
I was anticipating them taking around an hour, but in fact (as they were fairly small ones) they only took three-quarters of an hour to bake. They looked a bit deflated and collapsed after baking, plus there was a worrying amount of baked-on sticky juice underneath them that made them look as though they'd been welded to the silver foil. However, they came free from their moorings without any difficulty and held their shape to be transferred to the plate. I had visions of them collapsing half-way.
Which brings about the next flavour sensation, which was the chilli cream which was used as a topping. Boy, but did it go well with the sweetness of the potato flesh! Goodness, but my mouth is watering with the memory.
It's a simple enough recipe, simply take a pot of soured cream and add the grated zest from a lime, a chopped red chilli (I abandoned the seeds) and some chopped coriander. Add a little salt and pepper and mix. Hey presto - chilli cream for use in baked sweet potatoes.
With a side salad of mixed leaves, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, radish, olives and red pepper, we ate like kings last night - and I can't believe how good for us it all was. The pork was trimmed, so was virtually fat free. Hence, the only fat was in the chilli cream - which was a teaspoonful or so and the small amount of olive oil that went into the Barbecue sauce. I suppose there was sugar in the Barbecue sauce and natural sugars in the sweet potato, but other than that, it had to have been good for us. If it wasn't, please don't burst my bubble. *chuckle*