By request…yogurt and banana cake

It’s such a humble thing, banana cake, mainly because the only reason it’s made is to use up those old bananas nobody wants to eat. But in my eyes bananas were meant to get old just for this very purpose….once they are transformed into this homely cake, they aren’t so humble anymore.
This recipe makes two loaf tins.

yogurt and banana cake
170g softened butter
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
320g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
260ml natural yogurt
1 large over ripe banana mashed well
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
the glaze
230g icing sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
3-4 tbsp of water
1/2 tsp of vanilla bean paste.(or vanilla extract)
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Line and grease two loaf tins. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, bicarb, and mixed spice. Beat well and then add the banana, yogurt and vanilla and combine well. Pour into the prepared tins. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the top springs back slightly when touched. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

When cool, mix together the icing sugar, corn flour, vanilla, with enough water to make a thick paste. Pour over the cakes.


Green boost smoothie

This smoothie is so full of goodness and is a really filling alternative to lunch. Full of vitamin c, fibre and chlorophyll, its going to cleanse and rejuvenate, and it doesn’t taste as green as it looks! Upon seeing the colour my 3 year old daughter aptly called it dinosaur juice but I promise you it tastes wonderfully refreshing with lots of zing!

green boost smoothie

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and core taken out
Large handful of washed baby spinach
1tsp of grated fresh ginger(less if your not a big ginger person)
1 lemon juiced
50g courgette
125 ml water

Chop up the apples and courgette and put them and all the other ingredients into a blender or smoothie maker. Blend away until nice and smooth. If it’s summertime throw in a couple of ice cubes to cool down.

Italian style beef stew with cheesy basil dumplings

To get the dinner on in the morning and forget about it until 30 minutes before serving has to be the perfect way to cook. Especially when the flavour intensifies and everything benefits from the long slow cooking it gets. And to add to that, all the messy work is done and cleaned up so by dinner time all you’re left with is one pot. For all the fine dining in the world, sometimes you really can’t beat a good old homemade one pot wonder!

Italian style beef stew with cheesy dumplings
1600g stewing beef at room temp.
1 onion finely diced
1 stick of celery finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 lt. Beef stock
3 carrots chopped small
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of tomato purée
2 bay leaves
2tsp of dried basil
Small bunch of fresh thyme
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups of fusilli pasta
1 tin of cannelini beans

Turn on your slow cooker (crock pot) to auto. Pour a few glugs of olive oil into a large frying pan and gently sweat the onions and celery for around 5 minutes. Scrape these into the slow cooker, put the frying pan back on the heat and add some more olive oil. When it’s really hot fry off one third of your meat. When it’s nicely browned all over, tip into the slow cooker, doing the same until all the meat is browned. Make up your beef stock and add along with the carrots, tomatoes, purée, herbs, and pepper. Put the lid on and let the slow cooker do its thing all day. An hour before dinner turn the heat up to high. 30 minutes before dinner, make your dumplings and add them. If the stew is looking at all dry add more water. The pasta will suck up plenty of sauce. Then 15-20 minutes before add the pasta and beans mixing in carefully with out disturbing your dumplings too much.(or you could carefully remove dumplings, mix in the the pasta and beans before placing them back on top.)
cheesy basil dumplings
110g self raising flour
50g Parmesan
55g shredded suet
Handful of fresh basil leaves

With a pestle and mortar crush the basil leaves along with a pinch of salt. Mix the flour, Parmesan and suet together. Add the crushed basil leaves along with enough cold water to bring it all tougher and make a stiff dough. Don’t handle too much. Shape into 8 dumplings. Sit them on top of the stew, replace the lid and cook for 25 minutes. I like to serve with rustic garlic bread made with ciabatta. Yum.

Toffee…from 1926

I’ve been wrapped up in a novel set in the 1920s, the very time “Tried favourites cookery book” was written, so I feel a definite connection with it. This book was lovingly passed on to me by a family friend in her 80s, so it’s rather special. Whilst thumbing through it, entertaining myself with the way things were written back then, my eye caught an advertisement in the back for nestle condensed milk with a recipe for homemade toffee. I’m so caught up in the romance of cooking something from the 1920s I just can’t resist, Im sure Mrs Patmore in Downton Abbey would have rustled this up as a little treat for lady Mary!

Nestlé’s homemade toffee
1 tin of nestle condensed milk
5 oz granulated sugar
3 oz butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup

Melt the butter and sugar together, add the condensed milk and syrup. Boil slowly for 15 minutes, stirring all the time. Before removing from the fire(1926 remember!) flavour with vanilla essence. Pour into a well buttered tin, and when cool mark into small squares. This makes 1lb. 7 oz.mof toffee.

Winter spiced chocolate soufflés

My sweet-toothed husband requested I make this fresh raspberry tart we saw on masterchef Australia, and that was all the encouragement I needed. To be honest the tart was a lot of hard work and quite disappointing…maybe it was just because the raspberries wern’t in season. And so I was left with 9 egg whites….

winter spiced chocolate soufflés
35 ml cream
35 ml milk
100g dark chocolate(60%)
1tsp cinnamon
Zest of one clementine
50g cocoa powder
100ml water (or 50 ml water 50 ml Cointreau)
8 large egg whites
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 190C. Generously grease 5 ramekins. Sprinkle with caster sugar to coat the sides and bottom. Place the cream, milk and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. When the chocolate has melted add the water, clementine zest, cocoa, and cinnamon and mix until smooth and glossy. Take off the heat. In a large clean bowl start whisking the egg whites until frothy, then gradually pour in the sugar and salt. Turn up to high and whisk till it’s glossy and with firm peaks. Take a quarter of the meringue and gently mix into the chocolate. Then add the rest and very gently fold in until there is no more egg white showing, but careful not to deflate the air. Gently pour into the ramekins, just up to the top, smoothing it off with your spatula. Bake on a tray in the oven for about 12 minutes for a moist soufflé or 14 for a drier soufflé. Serve immediately with cream whipped with a little Cointreau. You can make this a day ahead and keep in the fridge.

Good old-fashioned marble cake

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic recently. Well, since a young friend of mine told me she was making marble cake for a school assignment, I couldn’t get it out of my head and the craving has been upon me to give it a go. It’s the kind of cake that you eat with a cup of tea or coffee, because it’s quite a simple, plain cake…that’s why I gave it a bit of a twist, ie. I cooked it in a Bundt tin and gave it lots of chocolate love.

This recipe is made using a small Bundt tin. Or you could use a 15cm/6in round tin and cook a little longer.
marble Bundt cake
175g self raising flour
125g softened butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp milk
50g dark chocolate melted
1tsp cocoa powder
100g melted dark or milk chocolate
100g white chocolate

Turn your oven on to 150C.Butter up your Bundt tin. Place flour, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and milk and beat well for three or four minutes. Plop half of the mixture randomly around the Bundt tin leaving gaps for the chocolate mixture. With the other half, beat in the melted dark chocolate and cocoa powder and then fill the gaps in the tin between the vanilla mixture. With a spoon swirl the two batters together just enough to get a marble pattern. Bake in the oven for 30-35 mins or until a skewer when inserted comes away clean. When cooled,tip out of tin and drizzle the two melted chocolates on top.


Hungry??? Cheesy smashed cannellini bean, red jalapeño n sliced courgette quesadilla

If your getting bored of the good ol sambo, give this a try, it’s totally yummy, satisfying and dare I say a healthier option. It ticks all the boxes and is so quick to make….what are you waiting for?…

cheesy smashed cannelloni bean, red jalapeño n sliced courgette quesadilla
2 tortillas
Tinned cannellini beans
Red jalapeños
Spring onion chopped
Very finely sliced courgette
Grated cheddar cheese

Start by smashing up about a two thirds of a 400g tin of cannelloni beans(minus the water)Finely grate a 1/4 of a garlic clove and mix into the beans along with some fresh thyme leaves. Put your griddle pan onto a medium heat and place your tortilla on, spreading the smashed cannelloni beans all over. Next throw on a generous sprinkle of red jalapeños and spring onion. Layer on the courgette, grated cheese then another tortilla. Cook on that side until the tortilla has beautiful golden lines from the griddle pan. Turn and cook that side the same and you see the cheese is starting to ooze. Slice into quarters….feeds one very hungry person or two smaller appetites!