Monthly Archives: March 2008
I have been left with a HUGE bunch of over-ripe bananas on my hands. Why? Well, as you may or may not know, my fiance The Little Medic (TLM), is in his last year at medical school and is in the throes of revising for finals. Part of that revision is practising his skills, so we went and bought a whole heap of bananas for him to practise his suturing on. After dissecting one, it became apparent that banana skin is nothing like human skin and evidently useless to practise on. With neither of us overly keen on bananas, they were left in the fruit bowl.
I’ve never made a banana loaf before, something about the thought of it never appealed to me, but after seeing the banana goodies made by Astra Libris over at Food for Laughter I thought it would be the best way to put them to use. I used Nigella Lawson’s “Banana Bread” as a starting point, but didn’t have many of the right ingredients or right sized loaf tins, so I just muddled along. I didn’t have any greaseproof paper, but thankfully buttering and flouring the tins worked perfectly. I also forgot to look at the clock when I put it in – but I’m more of an instinctive than timer cook so it was OK – you can see the skewer holes in the picture below. The following recipe used up 3 large bananas (woop) and produced two of these loaves:
- 200 g raisins
- 175 g plain flour (I used self raising by mistake!)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 125 g margarine
- 150 g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 300 g of overripe bananas (weight after skins removed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
How to make it
Preheat the oven to 170 C. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt into a bowl. In a bigger bowl, pour in the butter (melted) and the sugar and beat them together. Add the eggs and the vanilla essence, then the mashed up bananas. Stir in the flour mixture. Pour into the tin/s (makes one big tin or two smaller tins worth – fill 2/3 full, no more because it puffs up a treat). Bake for 1 – 1/2 hours – it is ready when a skewer comes out clean.
It tastes really good, I had 2 slices for breakfast and another slice at lunchtime – eep. I imagine it could be really nice to fiddle around with – walnuts, honey, cinnamon…mmm.
p.s. wow what a difference taking pictures in the natural morning light makes! Alas, not all cooking is conducive to taking photos at the right time!
Yesterday I had a lovely day pootling around, went to the fresh fruit and veg markets, trawled the butchers etc but I had my heart set on fish for dinner. I popped into the fishmonger’s and the scallops called to me. I absolutely adore seafood, scallops in particular for their firm texture.
I’d never eaten the coral roe (the orange part) of a scallop before, as they’re usually taken off and discarded. After a quick browse on the net, there seemed to be no reason for not eating them (except if the fact they are gonads freaks you out). So yesterday evening I simply used a lot of butter, a bit of garlic, a tiny bit of white wine and some lemon juice and had a delicious scallop starter.
To cook them, I added a hunk of butter and a minced garlic clove on a medium heat. I added the scallops, cooked them for a few minutes on either side then added the wine and lemon juice and let them simmer slightly until the garlic was cooked through and the scallops had lost their translucency (a sign that they are cooked). This took only a minute or two longer.
They were simply perfect. TLM (who did not partake in the scallops – more for me!) sat bemused as I at them with complete relish and pleasure. The roe was actually very tasty (even though TLM kept sayin ‘gonad’ as I ate *roll eyes*) and had the texture and taste of a mild mussel.
I’ve had a look around and have seen scallops with small slices of tart apple, maybe I’ll try that another time.
I was first given a peppermint teabag in a school staffroom after a long, stressful day. I looked at it scornfully, unconvinced by the claims that it is soothing, good for the digestion etc. I’ve always hated herbal tea, thinking it ludicrous and often tasting too much like ribena anyway. So with much trepidation, I poured the boiling water over the bag and as soon as the vapours hit my nostrils, I collapsed into a serene state.
I am now evangelical about the wonders of peppermint tea (with honey ;)). If you’ve never tried it, I command you to go and buy some teabags. They need to be nice ones like Twinings (the one pictured is by a company called Teapigs and it is the epitome of peppermint tea). They work absolute wonders, and taste great (much better than that chammomile chuff people try and pass off as nice). Do it, do it!
It seems a bit ridiculous to have a recipe for chocolate crispy cakes, so this is just a series of reminders.
1) If you are adding milk chocolate, you need to add twice as much dark as milk or it will seize up and not be nice and glossy.
2) Add a big hunk of butter and a slosh of milk to achieve the right consistency (slick and glossy and easy to stir) and stop the cakes being impossible to bite into.
3) Always melt the chocolate over water (whether on the stove or in the microwave).
4) There is nearly always room for some more Rice Crispies/Cornflakes, but try not to stretch the chocolate too far.
Last year I used cornflakes and made a totally plain chocolate crispie cake, as they were all for adults (and got eaten quickly). This year I was looking after my brother’s four children (all on my own!) and the oldest three (11, 7 and 5) and I used rice crispies and milk chocolate. We used up 2 bars dark, 1 bar milk (they were apprehensive about the dark chocolate… hehe), 1/3 pack of butter and slosh of milk, half a box of cereal. It was so much fun, so messy and just brilliant!
After melting the chocolate (carefully…) it’s time to stir in the rice crispies.
TLM got me a ‘cake and bake’ recipe book at Christmas, and eagerly pointed out the “Chocolate Caramel Slice” recipe. To me that’s always been known as Millionaire’s Shortbread, but the recipe looked a bit weird, so I change it. When I made these, because they have oats in, the name Millionaire’s Shortbread didn’t seem right. I took these babies round to a friend’s house as the pudding offering and they immediately dubbed them ShortJack. Amazing!
There was a bit of a drama with the cooking of these, in that the oven started to work again but gave out half way through so I had to just leave them in the warm oven and hope the shortbread would cook with the residual heat. The shortbread is a bit crunchier than I would expect, so I think that may be the reason (although everyone commended the crunch, so maybe I’ll continue the turning off the oven method!) It was also the first time I made caramel, and it was viciously hot!
- 150 g butter
- 120 g brown sugar
- 180 g plain flour
- 80 g oats
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 400 ml can condensed milk
Ingredients (chocolate topping)
- 200 g chocolate (dark/milk mix)
- bit of honey or golden syrup
How to make it
Preheat the oven to 180 Celsius. Make sure the butter is really soft and beat the butter and sugar together. Mix in the oats and flour and incorporate together with your hands. Press the mix into the bottom of a 24cm baking tin (I use a silicone baking thingy because it ensures you can just pop the finished article out). Cook for 25 minutes.
Place the ingredients for the caramel in a pan, bring to the boil slowly, and gently stirring all the time let it boil for 4 minutes until it goes thick. Pour over. Let go cold.
Melt chocolate, pour over. Voila!