Over at Khymos.org (linked in our favorite blogs), each month the site challenges folks to create dishes using unusual, yet reflective ingredients. It's an interesting idea - "If two foods share one or more key odorants, chances are that they will go well together. The first step towards finding new pairings would be to identify key odorants." From Wiki: An aroma compound, also known as odorant, aroma, fragrance or flavor, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor. A chemical compound has a smell or odor when two conditions are met: the compound needs to be volatile, so it can be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose, and it needs to be in a sufficiently high concentration to be able to interact with one or more of the olfactory receptors.
Coming off of the tasting menu, I didn't have time to do anything fancy, but I did want to throw two creations into the ring. First off is my Banana Clove Canolli.
Process one half of a ripe banana with one whole egg. Spread thinly on a silpat and bake at 200 F until no longer tacky, but before it crisps. Mine took about 90 minutes. Shape your tuile around a dowel lined with parchment. Bake until crisp - about 2 more hours in my case.
Warm one can of coconut cream and add 1 T. of freshly ground cloves. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat, covered. Steep for at least 2 hours - I steeped overnight. Make a 4:1 white chocolate ganache using the coconut milk. Let rest until it starts to firm, then pipe into the shell.
How did it taste? This pairing is not quite as daring as others, but I also chose the easy path by making a dessert. The banana was subtle, yet lingering and deep. The clove, on the other hand, was at first over powered by the white chocolate, but then remained the lasting taste in my mouth. If doing this again, I would work the ganache into a mousse to lighten it up (I was out of cream).
On a side note, the banana crisps by themselves were outstanding once crisp, and make super plating decorations. They were very easy to shape with a great texture, and not overly banana-ey by themselves.
As I said, I copped out by making a dessert, so I took a bonus stab at this challenge - Banana Martini with Clove "Olives."
Using Tito's handmade vodka (gluten free) I mushed the other half of the banana and let it steep overnight. I then did a gelatin filtration process to remove the solids resulting in the clear vodka again. And finally a simple clove infused coconut milk, formed into spheres and dropped into the martini.
The result looked like vodka but tasted like banana soup. It was very sweet, with no taste of vodka whatsoever. The melting coconut and clove gave a nice undertone to the second and third sips. Although it didn't taste like vodka, it still had a kick -- the vodka made my head numb and the clove made my tongue numb. This could be a dangerous drink!