Friday, 28 September 2012

Banana crumb muffins

This is what happened. I had some spare bananas, a serious craving for something sweet and I found this recipe. After making (and quickly devouring, with the help of husband) one batch I proceeded to make another one. These beauties are too delicious not to be shared. Honestly, they are the best muffins I've ever made and tasted - soft and moist with a sweet crunchy topping. 

I changed a few bits and bobs in the recipe and added flax seed and chopped almonds to the streusel - you can never have too much crunch, can you?

To make a batch of 12 muffins you'll need:

220 g plain white flour(1 1/2 cup)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 bananas, mashed
30 g brown sugar (1/4 cup)
90 g white sugar (1/2 cup)
1 egg, beaten
100 g butter, melted (1/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

50 g (1/3 cup) brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flax seed
1 tbsp chopped almonds

Pre-heat the oven to 190 C.

Prepare the topping: rub sugar, flour and butter with your fingers until the mix resembles breadcrumbs, stir in the rest of the ingredients. Chill the topping in the fridge until your muffin batter is ready.

In a mixing bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.

Mash bananas in another bowl and add sugar, vanilla, egg and melted butter. Stir to combine.

Add the flour mix to the wet banana mix and combine with a spatula (try not to overmix).

Spoon the mix into muffin cases, sprinkle the topping and bake for 18-20 minutes.


Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Squash and sweet potato lasagne

I love lasagne as much as the next person, but I think we can all agree it's not an every day treat. Put it this way: it's a calorie bomb. But replace the meat with veggies and you'll find you won't have to feel so guilty. I got inspired to make this dish by watching Lorraine Pascale's new show (which is pretty cool, though I seriously doubt she ever eats any of her creations. But hey, that's just me); as soon as the words butternut squash and sweet potatoes reached my ears I was sold. 
Lorraine's version uses a ton (ok, 600 grams) of ricotta cheese instead of white sauce, which frankly, is a bit too much for my liking. I ended up modifying the recipe a lot, adding the much feared by some white sauce (it is super easy), but trust me, the finished lasagne is delicious. Indulgent, but a bit healhier than its meat cousin.

To make 4 generous portions you'll need:

350 g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
350 g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed
50 g grated parmesan
12 lasagne sheets (I used lasagne verdi)
2 big handfuls of spinach
100 g pine nuts
a big handful of fresh basil
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme
a pinch of cayenne or cajun spice

Sauce 1
50 g grated parmesan
2 egg yolks
100 g ricotta
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Sauce 2 
2 -3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
500 ml milk

Start by putting two pots of water on the stove - get the water boiling and prep your ingredients.
Peel and cube butternut squash and sweet potato, then put in the first pot of boiling water and cook until soft. Drain and set aside.

Get a sheet of parchment paper (or grease proof paper) and spread it on your workbench. Once the water in the second pot is boiling, add a splash of oil and drop 3 sheets of lasagne into the pot. Cook them for about 2-3 minutes, then fish out and lay on the parchment paper. Prepare 12 sheets of lasagne this way. This is a bit messy, but it speeds up the cooking process later!

Now make the first sauce. Simply mix parmesan, ricotta and 2 egg yolks together in a bowl, add salt, pepper and nutmeg and set aside.

Off to the second sauce. Start off by gently melting butter in a small pot. You want the gas on its lowest setting. Get the whisk and flour and milk ready. 

Once the butter is melted, add the flour and quickly whisk. You've just made roux. How awesome are you? 

Now start pouring milk into the roux whisking quickly to avoid lumps. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg and keep stirring the mix with the whisk. After a few minutes, as the milk gets hotter, the sauce should start thickening. 
Keep stirring and take off the heat once the sauce has the consistency of a pouring yoghurt. 

Transfer into a measuring jug and set aside.
Toast the pine nuts in a small dry frying pan.

Now add thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper and cayenne/cajun spice to drained sweet potatoes and squash and mash together.

Get a heat proof dish (I used a square pyrex form which fitted 3 sheets of slightly overlapping lasagne).
Start by pouring a bit of sauce at the bottom of the dish, then cover with 3 sheets of pasta.

Spread sweet potato mix on top, sprinkle with pine nuts and basil leaves.

Top with spinach leaves and cover with 3 more sheets of pasta. Pour a bit of the white sauce and spread on top of the pasta layer. Add sweet potato mix and spread the ricotta sauce on top. Sprinkle pine nuts and basil, cover with pasta. Repeat.

The last layer will be pasta, parmesan and the rest of the white sauce.

Bake in 190 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through. I like to use a scientific method called 'Poke It With a Fork'.

Serve with a mixed leaf salad. Yum.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Thai salmon noodles

Despite what you might think I don't rely on chicken and bacon in all my dinners.
Fish is good too (I just wish it was a bit less expensive!). This recipe comes from BBC Good Food (again! well, what can I do? This website rocks!) I grew a bit tired of eating the same noodles with stir fry sauce over and over again and when I saw the salmon and sweet potato combination I knew I had to try it. I wasn't disappointed - the dish is incredibly fragrant, with the red Thai curry sauce complimenting the fish and potatoes and coriander adding freshness. 

To make enough for two you'll need:

1-2 salmon fillets, skin removed
1-2 tsp red Thai curry paste
4-5 spring onions
2-3 cloves of garlic
500 ml vegetable stock powder
250 ml milk
1 sweet potato
fine egg noodles
fresh coriander
black onion seeds, to garnish

Start by prepping your ingredients. Slice salmon fillet into 1'' cubes, mince garlic and chop spring onions.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan (or a wok) and fry off the Thai curry paste. Add garlic and spring onions and keep frying.

Pop cubed sweet potatoes in the pan, add milk and stock and turn the heat down. Simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

While the sauce is simmering, boil a pot of salted water for noodles and throw them in. Most fine egg noodles only need 3 minutes.
While the noodles are cooking add salmon to the pan and gently stir it in. Cook for another 3 minutes - the salmon is very delicate and cooks quickly.

Drain the noodles, divide between two plates, then spoon the sauce over (it should be quite liquidy!). Sprinkle with coriander and black onion seeds. Eat!

Last week I made this dish with onion instead of spring onion and prawns instead of salmon - equally delicious - one dish two ways.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012


Morning everyone!
While you are reading this post I'm on my way to Boston, MA for my friends' wedding. 
I've never been to the great US of A before so I'm beyond excited! 
I have some posts scheduled, but I won't be able to reply to comments or post anything new, so bear with me until last week of September when I'll be back!


Monday, 10 September 2012

Healthy breakfast smoothie

Hamburgers! The cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast - well, not really, Jules, not really.
I guess it's safe to say that not all movie wisdom is to be applied in real life (see also 'Hey, let's see what's in this creepy cave no one has ever been to!' etc. etc.)
As someone who thinks about food all day long I find it nearly impossible to understand how anyone can NOT have breakfast. But I know one argument that's always used as an excuse: I don't have time.
Well, smoothie to the rescue! This particular breakfast smoothie is basically your meal in a glass. 
5 ingredients and about 5 minutes to make. And delicious. And healthy. Anything with oats in it is healthy. Even muffins, I suppose.
You'll need a smoothie maker, food processor or a hand held blender (personally, I find handheld blenders the best as the cleanup is super easy).

To make a smoothie for one you'll need: 

2 bananas
2 tbsp oats
3/4 cup milk/almond milk/soya milk (I used unsweetened soya milk)
a handful of mixed berries (I used frozen)
a small handful of fresh blueberries

Now it gets tough and difficult. Not.
Pop all the ingredients (apart from blueberries) into a tall jug (I use a measuring jug).

Blend and pour into a tall glass. Scatter blueberries on top. Slurp.

Done. Breakfast in 5 minutes, done and dusted. Now off you go and spend the time you saved making breakfast standing in front of your wardrobe wondering what to wear. Or is it just me?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Instagrub (and more)

 //cottage cheese + fruit and almonds + smoothie for breakfast //

 // chicken tacos for dinner //

// turkey meatballs, aduki beans and couscous - random dinner //

 // dots on a Friday //

// Thai sweet potato noodles - recipe next week! //

// colourful Japanese sweets //

// banana muffins with crunchy topping - recipe soon! //

Have a great Sunday everyone!
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