Sunday, 29 January 2017

Elvis Presley Fried Peanut - Butter and Banana Sandwich

I love trashy food: peanut butter and jelly, vol au vants, cheese and pineapple sticks and my favourite of all: Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich, made popular by the king of rock, Elvis Presely. I'm no stranger to this combination of peanut butter and banana having created my own version a couple of years ago in a pancake form
I made this sandwich one Saturday when I had a jar of peanut butter to use and some very ripe bananas, it was a decision that paid off. Although the recipe is from Nigella Lawson's Bites, I've added a couple of rashers of bacon - as some commentators shared that the addition of bacon was also a popular addition by the king himself. 

Serves 1  
1 small ripe banana
2 slices white bread
2 scant tablespoons smooth peanut butter (don't use extra smooth)
2 tablespoons butter
2 rashers of cooked lean bacon (optional) 

Mash or slice the banana.
Lightly toast the bread, and then spread the peanut butter on one piece and the banana on the other.
Sandwich together then fry in the butter, turning once, until each side is golden-brown.
Remove to a plate, cut the sandwich carefully in half on the diagonal and eat.



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Cauliflower, Pumpkin and Bean soup

A hearty and soothing bowl of goodness. This really is the season for comforting bowl of soup, one which i'm enjoying. This recipe hails from my BBC Good Food: More Low Fat Feasts and I suggest you make a large batch and pop half in the freezer. If you don't have all the ingredients, feel free to swap, amend and change as I did. I liked the texture of the soup and the flavours, well, they tasted earthy and warmth.

Serves 4
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped 
500g pumpkin or squash, peeled seeded and chopped 
1 potato, chopped 
several thyme sprigs, leaves stripped
1 litre 1 3/4 pints vegetable stock
500g cauliflower cut into small florets
400g can haricot beans, drained and rinsed
a handful of chopped parsley
crusty bread, to serve

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions then fry for about 10 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Stir in the garlic, pumpkin or squash, potato and thyme, then cook for 1 minute.
Pour the stock, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, simmer for around 20 minutes, then add the cauliflower and beans, and cook for a further 10 minutia until all the vegetables are tender.
Remove about two ladles of soup and pour into a food processor, then add the parsley and process until smooth - taking good care not to splash yourself with the liquid. Return to the pan, then reheat an serve some crusty bread.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

Smashed Avocado & Crab Bruschetta

I vividly remember having a similar lunch, an avocado and crab sandwich on Jamaican hard ouch bread, whilst on holiday to Jamaica a few years ago at my aunties home. It's amazing the tropical delights you can rustle up for a quick lunch when you are residing in a warm tropical climate. I've recreated my tasty lunch but using tinned crab, which is perfectly fine as after all, who goes to source fresh crab to put in a sandwich.

Serves 3-4 (depending upon appetite)

170 g cooked crabmeat
1 teaspoon crushed dried chillies
large squeeze of half a lime
1 small avocado, skin and stone removed
1 spring onion, finely diced.
salt and pepper to taste.
1 baguette, sliced. 

In a small bowl mix the crab meat, crushed chillies and lime and set aside. In another small bowl, mash the avocado using a fork, add the spring onions, salt and pepper and mix well. Slice the baguette 1cm thick and lightly toast until they are light brown on each side. Spoon a tablespoon of the avocado on the baguette slices followed by a tablespoon of the crab.



Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Persian Salad of Tomato, Pomegranate and Cucumber

Not exactly seasonal, but my local food market sells all sorts of fruits and vegetables even during the Winter months. This salad screams Summer to me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it a couple weeks back. So much so, that I've eaten it a couple of times this month alone. The juicy and plump tomatoes combined with the sweet pomegranate and the refreshing cucumber. The recipe hails from my favourite Salad cookbook (yes, I have a few), A Salad For A Seasons by Harry Eastwood. 

Serves 2
300g ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine, cut in quarters
1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and cut length ways
seeds from 1 medium pomegranate
a small bunch parsley, leaves
a small bunch of coriander
3 spring onions, very finely sliced
1tsp sumac

For the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
plenty of salt and pepper.

Rinse the tomatoes thoroughly under the tap and let them stand in a colander to drip off the excess water.
Next, core the cucumber by running a teaspoon down the middle and removing all the seeds. Chop into smallish dice of roughly the same size.
In a medium bowl, combine the drained tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, cucumber, parsley, coriander, spring onions and sumac. Mix the dressing ingredients together and season generously.
Toss the salad in the dressing and serve right away.


Friday, 13 January 2017

Sally Lunn French Toast

I visited Bath last year as I was on a mission to visit new cities in the UK. I discovered the infamous Sally Lunn, the infamous original Bath Bun located in one of the oldest houses in Bath, was a joy. I brought a few Sally Lunn buns to take home with me and to store in my freezer for when the occasion arose. I discovered a lovely recipe for French toast using the enriched brioche bun which was perfect for a luxurious breakfast. If you are unable to make the Sally Lunn loaf from scratch, you can use brioche bread. You can eat the French Toast on its own or do like me and top with warmed fruits, the choice of mine being sharron fruit and pomegranate seeds. 

Sally Lunn Loaf
Makes one 25cm (10inch) ring cake, to slice as desired.
235ml lukewarm milk
1tsp caster sugar
1 tbsp dried active yeast
540g plain flour
95g caster sugar
1tsp sat
3 large eggs, light beaten
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml warm water
110g unsalted butter.

Grease the tube pan or ring mould liberally with butter
Stir the milk, sugar and yeast together in a large jug an leave to stand for 5 minutes.
Whisk the flour, caster sugar and salt together in a large bowl and stir in the eggs, bicarbonate of soda and warm water until well blended. Add the yeast mixture and the melted butter and stir until well incoportated.
Scrape the batter into the prepared tube pan or ring mould and cover with cling film. Let the doughy batter rise in a warm place, such as an airing cupboard or near a radiator, for 45 minutes - 1 hour until it has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200C (400F), gas mark 6.
Carefully put the pan into the oven, making sure not to move the dough about too much or knock the air bubbles out of it. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

For the Sally Lunn French Toast
Serves 4
8 sliced of Sally Lunn Loaf or brioche or thickly sliced white bread
2 large eggs
115ml whole milk
115ml single cream
pinch of salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
30g unsalted butter

Place four slices of Sally Lunn or other bread in a baking dish.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, sat, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon.
Pour half the liquid mixture over the four Sally Lunn slices in the baking dish. Allow to soak in.
Melt half the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat.
Put the soggy Sally Lunn slices in the hot frying pan and cook until golden brown on each side. Repeat the steps above with the remaining four slices of Sally Lunn and rest of the egg and cream mixture.


Thursday, 5 January 2017

Spinach and Coconut Dal

I only discovered the diversity of lentils Spring last year. Having only tried lentils once before, in a soup dish, around 15 years ago which I dismissed as bland and dull, I promptly vowed never to try this again. This was until I began to make a number of recipes from Summers Under the Tamarind Tree which I quite enjoyed. I then made Meera Sodha's Daily Dal which was heavenly: soupy, thick and comforting, I was hooked. I've been making my own version of daily dal in now my regular use of lentils, but as with everything in life, fancied a change. That change came way of  the critically acclaimed, Simon Hopkinson Second Helpings of Roast Chicken, which I picked up for the barginous £1 from Poundland. The spinach and coconut dal instantly appealed to me, an aromatic change to my usual dal. The dal is thick and works perfectly with naan bread to mop up it all up.

Serves 4
250g onions peeled and finely chopped 
75g butter
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed, roasted
1 tsp whole black mustard seeds, roasted
4 cloves
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tsp ground turmeric 
1/2 tsp chilli powder
200g split red lentils
400ml water
400ml coconut milk
3-4 thick slices of fresh ginger, unpeeled
450g fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
250g fresh eat spinach, trimmed and roughly chopped 
plenty of freshly ground black pepper 
juice of 1 large lime 
1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
1 tsp salt

Serve with naan or pitta bread

Fry the onions in 50g of the butter until pale golden. Add the whole spices and half the garlic and continue to cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the turmeric and chilli powder until well blended and cook for a couple of minutes Tip in the lentils and add the water, coconut milk, ginger, tomatoes and spinach. Bring up to a summer, add the pepper and cook very gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and have all but dissolved into the liquid.
Remove the pan from the heat. Melt the remaining butter. When it starts to froth, throw in the rest of the garlic and stir vigorously until it states to take on a little colour, and the butter starts to smell nutty. Immediately tip in the lentils and stir in (there will be spluttering so watch out). Add the lime juice, the coriander, mint and salt to taste. Cover with a lid  and leave to mellow for 10 minutes before serving, remembering to remove the slices of ginger before you do so. Eat with hot and fresh flat bread, such as naan or failing that, pitta bread. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

Warming Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

Happy New Year. I've been eating a lot more soup recently. Not because I'm on some sort of weird health quick or diet plan, but this time of year, the cold winter months produce some of the best vegetables which are sublimely delicious in a soup. A steaming bowl of soup tends to fill me up much more than if I simply boiled the vegetables.  Also, I get a virtuous feeling as I'm consuming at least 1, possibly 2 out of my 5 (fruit and vegetable recommendations) day in one serving.
The soup I chose to share with you is, in my opinion, the best in root vegetables: butternut squash and sweet potatoes. What enhances a simple butternut squash and sweet potato soup is the addition of aromatic spices which provides a warmth, a depth and spice to a soothing bowl of goodness. This soup is ideal for a light lunch, a starter or dinner.

Recipe for Warming Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup
Serves 4-6
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, skin removed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, skin removed
2 cm ginger, skin removed and grated
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of black pepper
1 small butternut squash, skin removed and roughly diced (around 500g once skin removed)
1 large sweet potato (around 300g), skin removed and diced. 
600ml chicken stock, made using 1 stock cube. 
Juice of 1/2 lime

4-6 tbsp full fat Greek yogurt for drizzling. I suggest 1 tbsp of Greek yogurt per bowl of soup.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry the the onion, 2 cloves of garlic and ginger for 2 minutes. Add the remaining spices, followed by the butternut squash and sweet potato and give this a good stir. Pour the chicken stock and lime and cook on a low heat, covered for 20 around minutes or until the butternut squash and sweet potato is cooked through . Pour the contents into a blender and liquidise until smooth. Serve the soups in bowl and drizzle with creme fraiche. 

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