Brown bananas becomes banana bread

IMG_20170611_164404For once it was a sunny weekend in London and after spending the previous day having pimms and duck confit at a friend’s fancy flat in Fulham Broadway, we decided to have a lazy Sunday at home. Also, James was on-call so it’s not like we could have done anything out and about.

We did go to Tesco’s to do our weekly shop, we got round the supermarket to the till point in 9 minutes due to a combination of meal planning at home and adding ingredients to keep notes in the order in which we would go round the supermarket. This was essential as James needs to respond to any alarn within 15 minutes.

We had some very ripe bananas from when I went home the previous week and my mum insisted I take them back so we decided to make banana bread. Well we decided and I made it.

Ingredients (makes 8 thick slices)

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 115g butter (room temperature)
  • 115g dark brown soft sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 500g mashed over-ripe bananas (about 4 medium bananas)
  • 100g chocolate chips
  • optional spicing: cinnamon, nutmeg

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas mark 4.
  2. Line a 23x13cm loaf tin with baking parchment.
  3. Mash the bananas.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.
  5. Then stir in eggs and mashed bananas to until well blended.
  6. In a large bowl, combine flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt.
  7. Stir banana mixture and chocolate chips into flour mixture (add optional spicing); stir just to moisten. Pour mixture into prepared loaf tin.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, until a nice crust forms and knife inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean.
  9. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
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Brimming with bulgogi

It was not a typical Monday, I had taken a random day off and headed off to Pollen Street Social for their set lunch menu (2 courses for £32), it was definitely worth it considering there were so many extra mini courses – in particular their Bakewell tart cake. I rounded the day off by visiting the London Tower Bridge which has a glass walkway, it’s surprising how being able to see the floor is so unnerving. At the same time, James headed into work all keen for the week ahead.

The night before we had prepare the bulgogi to marinade, this is ideal to maximise flavour.

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Ingredients

  • 450g beef, sliced thinly
  • ½ cup of asian pear (puree)
  • ¼ cup onion purée
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 chopped spring onion
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • a pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • lettuce
  • peppers (sliced and uncooked)
  • rice

Method

Day one

  1. Put beef into the freezer for half an hour so that it is easier to cut finely.
  2. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl (some will require blitzing in a food processor)
  3. Add the sliced beef and mix well.
  4. Keep in the fridge overnight.

Day two

  1. Put rice into rice cooker
  2. Prepare lettuce and peppers
  3. Fry up, ideally we would bbq for the best flavour but this isn’t an option for us.
  4. Serve with ssamjang, lettuce and rice.

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Soup-er pumpkin power

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It was the eve of Halloween and James’ final day on call (meaning he can’t be more than 15 minutes away from a computer with internet access) so we decided to carve pumpkins and being one not to waste, use the flesh to make pumpkin soup.

The pumpkin carving was quite straight forward, James put a lot more effort into his into making it scary whilst I tried to make mine look friendly.

I sent James on an adventure to the Bake-haus and he purchased some of their delicious yoghurt bread although he only went and forgot to get a bloody stamp on the loyalty card. It made me a little sad but the tastiness of the bread quickly cheered me up.

20161030_201754-collageIngredients (serves 4)

  • Olive oil – 2 tablespoons
  • Onion – 1
  • Pumpkin flesh – 750g chopped
  • Vegetable stock – 550ml
  • Double creme – 100ml (although you can probably use creme fraiche instead)
  • Bacon lardons – 180g packet
  • Cumin and chilli powder to taste, potentially try nutmeg as well

 

Method

  1. Put olive oil into pot and add onions, cook for 5-10 mins on low heat until soft
  2. Add half the bacon lardons to pot
  3. Add pumpkin and cook for 5 mins
  4. Add vegetable stock, cook with lid on for 10 mins
  5. Add double creme
  6. Add cumin and chill powder
  7. Use a hand blender and puree the mixture
  8. Pass through a sieve
  9. Pour into bowls
  10. Heat remaining half of lardons and top the soup with these
  11. Eat with some delicious bread!

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You say To-ma-to, I say To-maa-to

 

Day two into our bank holiday weekend, after a fun day full of adventures (Borough market and Europe’s oldest operating theatre) we knuckled down to do what weekends are all about. Food prep. Today we decided to prepare a massive batch of Tomato sauce, freeze most of it and use the rest for pizza (tonight) and pasta tomorrow.

 

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Ingredients

This recipe makes 8-10 portions, we plan to double it next time.

  • 4 cans of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1-2 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, split in half
  • 1 large stem fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

Method

  1. Move oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 150°C.
  2. Place tomatoes in a large bowl and remove the ends, gently squish tomatoes until pieces no larger than 1/2-inch remain.
  3. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a Le Creuset (we used 3.5 quartz pot) until butter is melted.
  4. Add garlic and stir, for about 2 minutes i.e. before it gets brown.
  5. Add chilli flakes and oregano and stir for about 1 minute.
  6. Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil stem, and stir to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
  7. Cover Le Creuset with lid slightly ajar and transfer to oven.
  8. Stir every hour, until reduced by about half and darkened to a deep red.
    This takes 4-5 hours (reduce oven temperature if the sauce is bubbling too rapidly or the browned bits begin to turn too dark).
  9. Remove pot from oven and use tongs to discard onion halves, carrots, and basil stems. I would transfer these bits to a sieve so that all possible juices can be put back into the pot.
  10. Blow torch plum tomatoes and remove skin. Then remove the insides so only the flesh remains. Cut these up and add to the pot.
  11. Also add the chopped up basil leaves and fish sauce.
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It is all about the ingredients (one day we can afford Waitrose, till then Tesco will have to do)
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Simple yet effective

Fun with Fajitas

Another weekend, another cooking opportunity. We decided to have a lazy morning after spending our Friday evening having tasty Thai food at Kin. I’m not convinced the wonton soup was Thai but it was tasty and the portion sizes were generous. We strayed from our usual granola, fruit and yoghurt breakfast and branched out into rye bread with honey because my cousin provided us with some British honey from her bee keeping duties (I love a freebie) and the rye bread was half price in Tesco’s. Anyway, we decided to make some fajitas as these are so easy and freeze really well. We rounded the day off by watching the men’s 10m Olympic diving final, so all in all a very lazy day.

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Fajita time

Ingredients (makes 8 fajitas)

  • 6 pork steaks
  • tomatoes (4-5 salad ones, we ended up using 6 which was slightly too much)
  • 2 peppers
  • 2 onions
  • rice (1 cup) +  cumin seeds, (optional to make it into burritos)
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 can refried beans (small, however we can only find large ones in the shops)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (large)
  • 2-3 avocados
  • wraps (pack of 8)
  • spice mix:
    • 2 tablespoons oil
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 chilli or some chilli powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 garlic cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Method

  1. Make spice mix in a big pyrex bowl
  2. Cut pork into strips and mix with spice mix, store in fridge for a few hours (preferably overnight)
  3. Slice up all vegetables and put into separate bowls
  4. Mash up avocado with a fork
  5. Put beans into bowls but only do enough for the meal you are about to eat
  6. Using a pan, cook up onions and then peppers.
  7. At the same time, using a skillet, cook up peppers then pork (tip: cook everything in 2 batches)
  8. When first batch of pork about to finish, heat beans in microwave for 4 minutes on medium
  9. Put wraps on plate and then fill them up
  10. Put into a George Foreman to crisp up the wrap (alternatively you can heat in oven, if so then you need to put it in when putting in the second batch of pork)
  11. To freeze fajitas we use foil and cling film for ultimate freshness
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Fajita time
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Fajita time
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Fajita time
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Squish the fajita (alternatively don’t overfill or find giant fajita wraps)

 

 

Be happy, grin-ola

Granola makes you grin
Granola makes you grin

Today was a nice lazy day. The sun was shining for once and we decided to make some granola to top up our supplies. We find that a handful of fruit (raspberries for tomorrow but we will switch back to strawberries which are cheaper), a couple of dollops of yoghurt (we should use natural yoghurt but find it smells too sour so use Onken flavoured fruit stuff which I’m sure has too much sugar) and a scoop of the granola fills us both up until lunchtime with no snacking in between required.

Granola recipe (makes enough for over a weeks breakfast for two people)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups – rolled oats
  • 1 cup – puffed oats
  • 1/4 cup – flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup – sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup – pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup – almonds
  • 1/2 cup – walnuts
  • 1/2 cup – brazil nuts
  • 1/3 cup – olive oil
  • 1/3 cup – honey

Method

  1. Heat oven to 150 °C
  2. Add all dry ingredients into a large bowl
  3. Then add the olive oil and honey, mix
  4. Line 2 trays with parchment paper
  5. Pour the mixture onto the trays
  6. Bake for 35 minutes
  7. It can be poured into a large tupperware container straight away to cool (it means it won’t stick to the parchment paper as it cools)
Ingredients (we find wholefoods has a good selection of ingredients at reasonable prices)
Ingredients (we find wholefoods has a good selection of ingredients at reasonable prices)
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It looks kind of beige now but it will taste delicious
Make sure you chop them up, go nuts
Make sure you chop them up, go nuts
Given everything a good stir
Given everything a good stir
Spread the love
Spread the love

After the excitement of making granola, we decided to also take advantage of it being the weekend and therefore us having more time by making delicious char siu pork with pak choi. We even made enough for leftovers, James has already got a reputation for being a foodie and he has only been in his job for 2 weeks, I suspect when his colleagues see the char siu pork it will reconfirm their suspicions of his food snobbery.

I don’t like to Roast but…

Today was typically British in that it rained, the sun shone, it rained, more sunshine, you get the idea. It didn’t stop us from playing tennis outside though. We lost one of our tennis balls to a dog however we still all went home with the same number of balls that we started with.

James’ siblings are coming down tomorrow and we are cooking a roast to show off our kitchen skills. As this is an intense meal with multiple items being cooked at once and timing being key, we have decided to start doing as much prep the night before.

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The Roast

Ingredients (for 5 greedy people)

  • Roasting meat
    • 1kg beef
    • 2 onions
    • garlic cloves
    • 1 tsp plain flour
    • 2 tsp mustard powder
    • olive oil (splash)
    • salt and pepper
  • Roast potatoes
    • 250g-300g King Edward potatoes per person (can also use maris piper)
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 tsp plain flour
    • garlic cloves
  • 1 parsnip per person
  • 1 carrot per person
  • Frozen peas (as many as required)
  • 375g chipolatas
  • Devils on horseback
    • 12 rashers streaky bacon
    • 1 large tin prunes (410g in juice)
    • Cocktail sticks
  • Gravy
    • large knob of butter
    • 3 tbsp plain flour
    • beef stock
    • worcestershire sauce
  • Yorkshire pudding batter (makes 12)
    • 140g plain flour
    • 4 eggs
    • 200ml milk
    • sunflower oil for cooking

Method

The night before

Planning:

  • Draw up a gaant chart (likely to need to start at least 2.5 hours before serving on the day for 1kg beef)
  • Invite people 45 mins before serving food (an hour is too awkward)

Defrost meat (if frozen).

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This only gives you a rough guide (e.g. potatoes didn’t need as long as the gaant chart states)

Prepare roast potatoes

  1. Peel then quarter (cut in half and for the second half cut diagonally to increase surface area)
  2. Put into large pot of cold water (we use one for pasta that has an in built collinder), wait until boiling water, then par boil for 5 minutes
  3. Add salt, pepper and some plain flour (1 tsp)
  4. Leave to dry in same pot overnight (we leave on the surface and don’t bother fridging)

Make yorkshire pudding batter.

  1. Put flour into a bowl
  2. Beat in eggs until smooth.
  3. Gradually add milk and carry on beating until the mix is completely lump-free
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Pour the batter into a jug and store in fridge overnight

Prepare dessert (we like to do our chocolate mousse).

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Preparation (makes life so much easier if done the night before)

 

On the day

  • 30 mins to tidy up and get ready
  • Get all dishes/trays/pots out that will be used for cooking/serving, as well as all ingredients
  • Set the table before starting to cook
  • Preheat oven to 180C fan

Devils on horseback

  1. Put foil down on flat tray
  2. Wrap half a rasher of streaky bacon around a prune
  3. Use a cocktail stick to hold in place
  4. Once cooked, put into bowl and cover with foil
  5. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes just before serving
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Shove these in the oven for a sweet and salty treat

Chipolatas

  1. Put foil down on flat tray
  2. Place chipolatas  on tray and put into oven
  3. Once cooked, put into bowl and cover with foil
  4. Heat in microwave for 3 minutes just before serving

Once devils and chipolatas are in the oven, prepare carrots and parsnips by peeling and cutting into chunks (I like the carrots to be the same size as peas).

Roast beef

  1. Cut up onions
  2. Peel garlic
  3. Place both into small tin to use as a base (so meat doesn’t stew in it’s own juices)
  4. Mix plain flour, mustard powder, salt and pepper , olive oil, and rub into beef
  5. Put beef into tin and cover in foil
  6. Put into oven to cook for as long as necessary based on weight (10 minutes per 100g, take off foil for last 15 minutes)
  7. Rest for 20 minutes and set aside 10 minutes for carving

Roast potatoes (70 minutes total inc prep)

  1. Fill tray with 0.3 cm of oil
  2. Put garlic cloves in
  3. Place tray in oven for 10 mins
  4. Take hot tray out and put on top of hob (to get it super hot)
  5. Transfer potatoes onto heated tray and leave on hob for a few minutes
  6. Rotate potatoes whilst keeping it on the hob
  7. Put tray into oven (make sure not on bottom level so that have good air flow and heat)
  8. Only put rosemary in half way through cooking
  9. Cook for 60 mins

Gravy

  1. Heat butter
  2. Take off heat when melted
  3. Add flour
  4. Stir to make roux
  5. Add stock slowly whilst stirring
  6. Add worcestershire sauce
  7. Leave on gentle heat to thicken

Yorkshire puddings (30 mins total inc prep)

  1. Increase oven to fan 210C
  2. Pour a splash of sunflower oil into a 12-hole non-stick muffin tin
  3. Place tin in the oven for 10 mins
  4. Take hot tin out and put on top of hob until oil is smoking
  5. Pour the batter into the holes (fill a third up)
  6. Put the hot tin back in the oven and leave undisturbed for 25 mins until the puddings have puffed up and browned
  7. Serve immediately

Vegetables (15 mins total inc prep i.e. start 15 mins before serving)

  1. Heat a small amount of water in pot
  2. Boil water in kettle
  3. Place carrots and peas into boiling water

Heat up all plates and serving dishes by running/filling with hot water a few minutes before serving.

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Slice and dice