Date Archives June 2014

Banana and Cardamon Loaf


This is my go-to banana loaf recipe for when those bruising and sweetly turning bananas are slowing deteriorating in the fruit bowl, unaware of their potential. This loaf is easy to knock out and can be kept for a while in the cake tin. Here I’ve added the beautifully pungent ground cardamon but this can be left out or substituted.

I love banana loaf as its one of those ‘cakes’ that is less restricted by Paul and Mary’s dreaded ‘science’ of baking. This recipe for example only has one egg in the entire mixture but still manages to set with a lovely rich texture. The recipe is therefore hugely open to adaptation and I change mine practically every time. Try these little additions which I’ve done in the past:

  • Ground cardamon, cinnamon or ginger
  • Replace hazelnuts for your classic walnut
  • Add chunks of chocolate chips
  • Add a handful or desiccated coconut
  • Add a decadent molten layer of peanut butter/salted caramel/Nutella inside
  • Top the mixture with a crumble mixture before baking
  • Soak the bananas in rum for a bit…



Makes 1 loaf (Taken from Delia Smith’s ‘All in one Banana Loaf’ with a few adaptations)

  • 75g butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  •  225g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon (or other spice of choice)
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 70g hazelnuts, toasted and chopped roughly.
  • Handful demerara sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a loaf tin with parchment.
  2. Place the butter, sugar and egg in a food processor and combine (or use an electric hand whisk)
  3. Sieve over the flour, spices and baking powder and combine (don’t worry if it looks dry!)
  4. Add the bananas to the processor and combine until you have a smooth and creamy batter.
  5. Stir through the nuts (or any chocolate chips, coconuts additions etc)
  6. Pour into the loaf tin and sprinkle generously with the demerara sugar (or crumble) to create a nice crunchy topping. (If adding a layer of peanut butter/caramel etc, add half the batter to the tin, dot with the chosen filling and then spoon on the remaining batter to cover before baking)
  7. Bake for 50-55 minutes until cooked.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin before removing and slicing

Gorgeous sliced, toasted and layered with cinnamon butter


Glazed Salmon, Asian Greens, Sesame Cucumber



I can’t believe my birthday has come and gone yet again. With another year under my ageing belt it only seemed natural to add another cookbook to my ‘library’. It really is expanding at such a rate that I may have to develop some sort of filing system soon. I currently have them stored in a few tame and humble 6 bottle old wooden wine cases but with each eager book spilling out over the edge, oozing its glossy (some more oil splattered) pictures in front of me it may be time to move out to a magnum case…?

To cut a long story short, my birthday granted me with Bill Granger’s Everyday Asian cookbook. I love this quick and flavourful cooking  but with more of a traditional palate I needed a helping hand and a point in the right direction or orientation should I say. East. And to help me along the way not only did I get this vibrant drool-worthy book that I literally want to cook every recipe of (rare I assure you) I also received a few of Bill’s Asian ‘Pantry staples’ to add to my other collection (again, yet to have its own filing system) and some beautiful serving bowls. After all presentation can be half the battle!

NOTE: for those into this style of food I really recommend Bill’s book. There may be some alien ingredients but nothing a quick trip down the ethnic aisle of Tesco can’t solve. A simply written, helpful book. And you really will want to cook everything…there just aren’t enough mealtimes in the day or days in the week unless I start replacing my morning tea with miso soup? Unlikely.


Glazed Salmon

Serves 4

  • 4 tbsp mirin
  • 4tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown soft sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 salmon fillets
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl with the salmon fillets and pop in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Preheat your grill or BBQ. Grill for about 7minutes or so until charred on the outside but still pink and very most in the middle. Don’t be tempted to cook too long. The residual heat will carry on cooking it once removed from the grill and it is better served a little pink in the middle.
  3. image

Sesame Cucumber

  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp ride vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 cucumber
  1. Use a mandolin/speed peeler to peel thin strips of cucumber into a bowl.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the cucumber


  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 red chilli, sliced finely
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced finely
  1. Boil your broccoli for a matter of minutes until still al dente and bright green. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a frying pan until hot. Flash fry your chilli and shallots until crispy. Add the garlic slices at the end as they will burn easily and fry until golden and crispy. Scoop out from the oil and drain and allow to crisp.
  3. Serve the broccoli, warm and scattered with the crispy garnish and a little drizzle of the infused oil

imageBeautiful serving dish courtesy of my sister and the Portobello markets

Mexican Roast Chicken Feast




Sometimes an English roast can be boring (shoot me now)…especially in summer. I’ve experimented with a Spanish roast (see here) but it was time for a Mexican Roast chicken over the weekend as my craving for dark creamy black beans took over. This chicken recipe is a great BBQ favourite of mine…and Jamie’s. You know a good marinade when you make it in the morning, refrain from eating there and then and think about it all day until that charcoal is ready! The sweetcorn puree adds a lovely sweetness to this to counteract the savoury beans and spicy chicken and greens.

Mexican Roast Chicken Feast – Serves 4

BBQ Chicken

  1. Marinade the chicken the night before if you can. Massage over the chicken making sure you get it into all the cracks.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Line a roasting tray with foil and place the chicken on top with the excess marinade. Wrap in foil and roast for about 1hr and 20 minutes depending on the size. For the final 15 minutes or so, turn up the heat to 200°C and remove the foil to allow the skin to crisp up and brown. (This recipe is actually best cooked in the oven first to keep it moist and then finished on the BBQ so you get that charred outer crust and moist meat).
  4. When cooked remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes wrapped in foil while you finish the side dishes.
  5. When ready to serve, carve rustically, scatter with fresh mint and give everyone a wedge of lime for squeezing over.

Black beans

  • 2 x tins black beans, drained (retain the juice only if not salted)
  • 2 large spring onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ red chilli
  • Bunch coriander chopped
  • Lime juice
  1. Fry the spring onion in a little oil to soften for a few minutes then add the garlic and chilli and soften for a few minutes.
  2. Add the beans and top up with a little hot water or the bean can juice (as long as it is not salted). Add enough to cover them gently and allow to simmer.
  3. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. The consistency you want will depend on how you like them so simmer longer for a thicker texture. I like mine to be quite loose but still sit on the plate.
  4. Use a masher to lightly crush and mash some of the beans. This will help thicken the mixture and add texture but leave most of the beans whole.
  5. Taste and season. Add the coriander and a squeeze of fresh lime before serving.


Sweetcorn Puree

  • 1 x tin sweetcorn, drained.
  • Milk to cover
  • 1 knob butter
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Drain the sweetcorn and add to a saucepan. Add enough milk to just cover and bring to the simmer making sure the milk doesn’t boil over (not speaking from experience at all…..).
  2. Simmer for about 5 minutes then drain reserving the cooking milk.
  3. Add to a food processor with some salt and pepper and a large knob of butter. Puree for a good few minutes until really soft and creamy. Add a few tablespoons of the reserved milk as it blends to thin it out until you have the consistency you’re after.
  4. Sieve the mixture into the pan to remove the tough shells and produce a really creamy velvety puree (this is optional, just as good left non sieved). Set aside to keep warm.

Garlic-Chilli Broccoli

  • ½ red chilli, sliced thinly
  • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • Broccoli
  1. Heat a good glug of oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry the chilli and garlic for a few minutes until beginning to turn golden and crispy but make sure you don’t burn it. It can turn very quickly so remove from the heat and pour into a serving dish just before it looks ready, as it just turns golden as it will keep cooking a little after.
  2. Cook the broccoli al dente and drain well. While still warm, toss in the garlic-chilli infused oil and serve.