Banana bread revisited

banana bread revisited 
makes a whole loaf/12 muffins

2 large ripe bananas
1/4 cup olive oil (yes olive oil - will explain later)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp demerara sugar
2 organic eggs
1/4 cup soy milk (or milk)
1/4 vanilla bean
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of ground clove
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups organic wholemeal flour (use millet or rice flour if gluten intolerant)

1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch baking soda

Preheat oven to 170 degrees celsius. Prepare a loaf tin by rubbing a little olive oil around it (use butter if you prefer or even silicon paper). In a large bowl whisk oil, sugar and molasses, add spices (adding spices at this point ensure the most flavour as the oil will act almost as an essence preserver). Once mixed well, beat in eggs one at a time and then add mashed bananas.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add dry mix gradually to wet mix and don't beat/mix too much.  Add in soy milk, little by little (don't make mix too runny) and then chopped walnuts. Sometimes I add bits of dark unsweetened chocolate as well. Pour mix into tin/pan and rest for 5 mins. Place into oven and bake for 45mins - 1 hour (check on bread after 30 mins).

Because there is little sugar/sweetness this is really more a bread than a cake, which is probably the reason it's called banana bread. That said, if you want to add something to it you can add my sweetened ricotta cream or drizzle it with warm marmalade. Eat up.

Bananas for bananas

I'm bananas for bananas. Those who know me well know of my morning ritual of having a banana with my coffee - every single morning. I think eating bananas is the only real habit I have. Friends of mine even make sure to stock up on bananas if they know I'm visiting (thank you friends). In addition to my love of this almost perfect fruit, I also enjoy baking with them. I don't like eating heavy, oily or greasy banana breads (I know - who does? but I witness people eating bad b bread all over town...just too bad) so here is a healthy and hearty alternative to the old classic banana bread.

A new camera please

Ok, so I made a big purchase and got a new camera. My old little point and shoot needs to be fixed and to be honest, it just wasn't cutting it. I want to take pictures that make things look more beautiful than they are - not worse. Really, who wants to see unappealing pictures of food...yuck. So now I will play not only with my food but with my camera. Let's see what I can do.

Lazy soup and salad

For most, lazy nights usually mean one of two things: dinner will be ordered in or it will be reheated. The last thing you want to do when you're too tired is to cook and then clean up after. To make your life easy but still eat something comforting and tasty try out this soup and salad.

Ok I know soup and salad sounds soo boring but this recipe will definitely make your mouth water. I just make the soup ahead of time in a big batch and then freeze leftovers for reheating on lazy days like this one. For the salad, I just tossed steamed asparagus, borlotti beans, cherry tomatoes and mesclun mix. So simple but perfect with a glass of red wine...what a wonderful lazy night.

pumpkin and ginger soup

makes a enough for 4 people or 2 and leftovers

3 cups/600g Pumpkin (I used kent pumpkin but butternut squash would work well too)
1/2 red onion
1/2 leek
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp or more of freshly grated ginger
1 whole red chili
1 tsp dried chili
2 tbsp or more olive oil
fresh thyme
cracked black pepper
sea salt
1/2 cup skim milk (or any other non-dairy substitute)
stock - vegetable, chicken... I use a great additive free stock or I make my own and freeze it

There are a few different methods of cooking the pumpkin, either roast in oven with olive oil until tender or cook in the pot after leeks and garlic have been sauteed. To make life easier for readers I'll describe the second method.

Get a large enough pot (soup/stock pot) ready on medium heat. Saute the leeks and onions in olive oil under tender, add garlic and ginger and cook 2 mins. Add some thyme and salt (keeps things from burning), add chopped pumpkin pieces and enough stock to cover. Add in fresh and dried chili.

Cook pumpkin until tender. When reached consistency you want, either blend or place in food processor. Add back to cleaned out pot, stir in milk to reach consistency you desire. At this point, season well and add fresh chopped herbs. Sometimes I like to serve this with fresh organic yoghurt - it gives the soup another texture and a tang that works well with the creamy and spicy pumpkin. Enjoy.

borlotti bean salad with asparagus and cherry tomatoes

makes enough for two sides

1/2 cup dried borlotti beans (try not to use tinned beans if you can - just soak or cheat by simmering 1 cup dried beans with 3 cups water for 55 mins)
1/2 bunch asparagus - try to buy in season - if you can't substitute with another hearty green vegetable
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
bunch of salad leaves - arugula or mesclun mix
fresh bread - wholegrain, sourdough..whatever you like
30 ml olive oil
1 clove garlic
5ml lemon juice
10 ml balsamic vinegar

To make dressing - mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar - cut the garlic clove in half and rest in liquid for 10 minutes just to infuse.

Cook beans and leave aside. Steam asparagus and cut tomatoes into halves. Mix all ingredients or assemble separately like the way I did. Take out garlic from dressing and drizzle over veggies and beans. Add a few pieces of bread and there you go. Easy dinner for a lazy night...just need a glass of wine.

Bean me up borlotti

I love beans. I seriously do. Legumes are these perfect, tiny little bundles of nutrition magically sprouted from the earth. You don't have to be a vegan or vegetarian to eat them - shocker I know. And once you slowly integrate them in your diet you won't experience all symptoms found in classic bean jokes. Eating them with grains and vegetables help to make them almost perfect proteins...meaning they fill you up and keep you happy. Sounds good to me.

The borlotti bean. This is my new favourite bean and almost as special as a garbonzo bean (chickpea). It has a meatiness and creaminess (and has a beautifully speckled design) that is great for hearty dishes or even for adding an extra something to a salad. See my recipe for risotto with borlotti and my next posting for a quick borlotti bean salad.