Friday, 22 June 2012

Banana Buttermilk Bread

I'm sure you have a banana bread recipe. I do too. I've been baking my recipe for years and it has never failed me. It hadn't occurred to me to change it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Until I had some leftover buttermilk. My brain started to tick buttermilk...banana...surely this is a recipe for success.

The buttermilk addition makes the banana bread even more pleasing that it already is. (if that's even possible) The buttermilk gives a softer, moister crumb and a lovely golden hue which is very pleasing to the eye. It becomes the colour I imagined banana bread would be.

This does not last very long in my house, between me, hubby and toddler it was tough to get a photograph of the slices before they disappeared.

250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a good pinch of salt
100g butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease a loaf pan.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate soda, and salt; set aside.
Whisk together butter and sugar until light, add the eggs one at a time and the buttermilk. Add the mashed bananas and beat well until smooth. If your mixture looks a little curdled, don't worry.

Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared load pan. Bake for 1hour and 10mins or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let it cool for 30 mins before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Crispy salmon with veggie broth

I had a request from a friend; 'fish, no carbs dish please'. It is the perfect time of year for this request, one is spoilt for choice with spring vegetables. Fresh board beans, fresh peas, green beans and fennel are in order for this dish. This is Jamie Oliver's 'Crispy salmon with spring vegetable broth'. The recipe suggests chicken or vegetable stock, I would go with the vegetable stock for a cleaner taste, I find the chicken stock takes away from the salmon.

Jamie also serves his crispy salmon with aïoli, a fragrant type of homemade mayonnaise. I prefer mine without, but the choice it yours. Below is the recipe for the aïoli if you'd like to add it. The crispy crunchy skin from the salmon perfectly complements the butter soft fresh spring vegetable. Enjoy!

half a small clove of garlic, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg yolk, preferably free-range or organic
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
285ml extra virgin olive oil
285ml olive oil
lemon juice, to taste

Smash up the garlic with 1 teaspoon of salt in a pestle and mortar (or use the end of a rolling pin in a metal bowl).

Place the egg yolk and mustard in a bowl and whisk together, then start to add your oils bit by bit. Once you’ve blended in a quarter of the oil, you can start to add the rest in larger amounts.

When it’s all gone in, add the garlic and lemon juice and any extra flavours (see above).
To finish off, season to taste with salt, pepper and a bit more lemon juice, if needed.

Crispy Salmon and Spring vegetable broth
425ml chicken or vegetable stock, lightly seasoned
4 baby bulbs of fennel
, stalks removed and herby tops reserved
2 x 170–225g salmon steaks, scored
1 small handful of fresh mint, ripped
1 small handful of fresh basil, leaves picked
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
50g green beans, tops removed
50g podded broad beans
50g podded peas

First, make the aïoli. If you are having it.
Then bring your stock to the boil in a large pan then add your fennel and allow this to boil for 4 minutes while you heat up a non-stick frying pan.
Take your salmon steaks and pat the salmon steaks with a little olive oil, season and place skin-side down in the frying pan. Leave them for 2 minutes to get really crispy then check how they're doing. They'll want around 4 minutes on the skin side and 1 minute on the other. You'll get an idea of how they're cooking as you'll see the salmon change colour.

When the fennel has had 4 minutes, add the green beans and broad beans. Give them a further 2 minutes. By this time you will probably want to turn over the salmon steaks for their last minute. Add the peas to the other veg and cook for a final 2 minutes.

Don't be tempted to overcook the salmon – remove it from the heat. Divide the vegetables between 4 bowls, rip over the mint and basil, ladle over some of your hot cooking stock and place the salmon on top. Serve with a dollop of aïoli, if you are using it.

Serves 4.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Cheese Souffle

Three generations of Royals, 1,000 boats and 1.25 million well wishers, the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla was a sight to behold. The flotilla was based on a famous Canaletto painting, entitled 'River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day, 1746.' The organisers studied this painting to draw a likeness for the day, which they recreated spectacularly well.

River Thames with St. Paul's Cathedral on Lord Mayor's Day, 1746
As one of the spectators on the banks of the Thames, there was red, blue and white as far as the eye could see. Everyone clambered for a spot to see the river, some even climbing on top of bus stops, bins, trees and lamp posts for a view of the Queen, which did not disappoint. She looked radiant in a silver and white dress, embroidered with gold, silver and ivory spots and embellished with Swarovski crystals. Her vessel, a barge! Which I have always likened to a caravan without wheels, but this was a barge with a royal makeover. 'The Spirit of Chartwell' was decorated in red, gold and purple velvet with fresh flowers which cut through the June gloom. The weather itself was truly British..rain. So returning home from the festivities cold, wet and hungry, cheese souffle was the answer for an early hot supper.

I have always been taught to treat souffles with kid gloves. But if you can make white sauce, you can make cheese souffle. Really. Monitor the time and temperature carefully and you'll be home and dry. It makes a lovely light easy supper. Serve with blanched green beans or a salad.

45g butter
45g flour
225ml flour
125g mature cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp french mustard
4 eggs (separated)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Grease a large souffle dish or 4 individual dishes.

Melt the butter, stir in the flour until smooth and cook over meduim heat for 1 minute. Add the milk and stir well until blended, then bring to the boil, stirring constantly until thickened and smooth. Remove from the heat stir in the mustard, salt, pepper and cheese.

Add the egg yolks one by one whisking well after each addition.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into the cheese mixture.
Pour the mixture into the souffle dish and bake for 30 mins. Munch immediately.

Serve 4.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Jubilee Cupcakes

When I think of great British food, roast beef, summer pudding and cream teas come to mind. I'm talking about cream teas with proper clotted cream. The real yellow stuff which is thick almost butter like with a crust on top. Add lashings of strawberry jam on a fresh scone and you can see why this is one of the nation's favourite tea time treats. In the Jubilee fever I am making a cupcake inspired by my favourite quintessential British tradition; The Cream Tea. Which leads me to my Earl Grey infused cupcake with a strawberry jam filling and clotted cream icing.

I'll be noshing on one of these as I watch the Thames Diamond Jubilee Flotilla go by, probably under my brollie if weather prediction is correct and cink, cinking to Her Majesty for her epic 60 years!


Earl Grey Cupcakes
200g flour
150g caster sugar
125g butter
125 ml milk
10 ml baking powder
2 eggs
2 Earl grey tea bags
1 jar of strawberry jam

Clotted Cream Icing
40g clotted cream
50g butter
250g sifted icing sugar
5 ml vanilla essence
a touch of milk (if needed)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
Put the milk into a pan, bring almost to the boil, remove from the heat and steep the 2 Earl Grey tea bags in the milk for 30 minutes.

Set out 24 paper cups liners in a muffin pan.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one by one.

Then add all the other ingredients and beat until very smooth and creamy. This is about 5 minutes with an electric mixer.

Divide the batter between the muffin pans, filling to 2/3 full.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and firm. Use a toothpick to check.

Allow to cool. Then carefully cut a out small section of the top of each cupcake and fill with strawberry jam. Then ice cupcake with clotted cream icing.