A friend of mine is having what can only be described as a royally crap time. There’s me, moaning about not having slept since April, as if it’s such a massive deal. And there she is left holding her 3 month old while her selfish ex has decided he can’t handle having a baby and would rather take Special K and try to pull 18 year olds instead. So he’s basically upped and left her. This is someone so spectacularly gutless he didn’t even have the decency to tell her to her face, so broke up via SMS.
There are times when nothing you say can make things better, but silently sharing a bit of cake can ease things a little. I decided to make her some comforting, fudgy banana bread and chocolate-peanut butter pudding made with thick slabs of said bread, soaked through with salted choc and nut butter sauce. It turned out to be more of a spread in the end (I had to deal with an ENS* so didn’t manage to add milk to make matters less viscous) but for a little while at least, made her forget about what a lucky escape she and her beautiful son have had from a total loser.
*Emergency Nappy Situation
For the banana bread
115g plain flour
115g wholemeal flour
150g brown sugar
90g roughly chopped walnuts
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
6 small ripe bananas- approx 480g (the blacker the better), roughly broken into chunks
2 large beaten eggs
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. syrup from a jar of stem ginger
For the sauce
200g milk chocolate, broken into chunks
2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
100ml double cream
- Line a loaf tin with greased and floured baking paper and preheat the oven to GM 4/180C (fan)
- Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and walnuts in a bowl.
- If you have a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for a good 5 minutes (otherwise a lot of elbow grease and about 15 minutes with a wooden spoon ought to do it). Gradually add the olive oil, eggs, banana, stem ginger syrup and vanilla, a little at a time.
- Gently fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix and bake for 1 hr
- Cool and slice the banana bread up and layer in overlapping layers in a dish.
- Melt the chocolate in a bain marie. Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix well. Stir in the salt until it dissolves. Finally swirl in the double cream. If you’re able to, add enough milk to form a runny sauce.
- Pour this over the bread, so it’s nicely submerged.
- Bake for 40minutes. Serve with something hot, strong and possibly alcoholic depending on the circumstances.
AKA Japanese salad dressing. I used to buy bottles of this stuff ready-made before I realised just how easy it is to knock up at home (except for the bit where you have to grate the raw onion – wearing shades helps). Just the thing for when you definitely don’t want to turn the cooker on.
(optional) dried seaweed salad mix, which you can buy online here
1/4 small onion, finely grated including juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. grated ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. roasted white sesame seed, lightly pulverised in a pestle and mortar
grated carrot, radish, batons of cucumber, tomato, etc.
soak the seaweed salad if using in cold water
combine the dressing ingredients.
Drain the seaweed, mix together all salad ingredients and pour over the dressing
*(apols for the blurry photo-taken while holding a very wriggly 12 week old)
If you’re after boozy, creamy, gorgeousness as well as a full on exercise in kitschness, then look no further. I’ve always preferred lamb to beef so decided to give some thick cut lamb steaks the old brandy-cream treatment. Crumbling feta and showering dill into the sauce really took things somewhere special. This was so tasty we had it twice in the same week.
6 thick cut lamb chops
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp. Worcester sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
A knob of butter
200g chopped mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
75ml cider brandy
2 tbsp. double cream
2-3tbsp. finely chopped dill
- combine the dried parsley, thyme, garlic, Worcester sauce and olive oil and coat the chops. Leave in the fridge for anywhere between 3 hours-overnight.
- Heat the butter in a large frying pan and once it’s foaming add the meat plus any excess marinade, browning well all over.
- Nudge the chops to one side of the pan and add the chopped mushrooms and onion. Cook until everything takes on a nice mahogany hue, then crown each chop with the mushroom-onion mixture.
- Turn the heat up and pour in the cider brandy. Reduce until syrupy and pour in the stock. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Remove the meat and keep warm. Turn heat up again, crumble in the feta and simmer with lid off for about 10 minutes or until it reduces slightly. Stir in the double cream and allow to bubble a little.
- Finally sprinkle in the dill and serve the chops with the sauce poured over, sautéed potatoes and something green.
Hello, it’s been a while. Don’t worry, this isn’t another one of those “sorry I haven’t blogged in ages” posts because I don’t really see the point of those. Personally, I blame the year round availability of unseasonal fruit in our supermarkets – people just think they can have what they want when they want it all the time. Perhaps it might help if you just think of me as an organic greengage, or something.
Anyway. Aren’t peas brilliant? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve podded and ploughed my way through a fresh bag fully intending to use them in a meal but with absolutely nada to show at the end. I had to exercise a lot of self restraint for this dish, but am super pleased I did because it’s bloody sensational.
At about 4am last Tuesday I had a proper hankering for mutter paneer, palak paneer and also for makhani paneer (think butter chicken but with paneer instead of poultry). You might say I really, really wanted paneer.
This was the result – a glorious mash up of all three. Packed with sweet fresh* peas and spinach for all those crucial vits plus sour cream (SO authentic, I know) butter and cashews for a healthy dose of hedonic richness. A win-win dish if ever there was one.
2 large onions
4-5 cloves garlic
2 inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
60g roasted cashew nuts
A little blitzing water
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. curry powder
salt to taste (I used a teaspoon)
¼ – ½ tsp. chilli powder
½ – 1 tsp. dried fenugreek (methi) leaves
1 tsp. coriander powder
½ tsp. turmeric powder
1 tbsp. tomato puree
2-3 tbsp. sour cream (coconut milk would be lush)
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 green chillies chopped finely
2 tbsp. coriander stems, chopped finely
1 tbsp. sunflower oil
A large knob of butter
2 tsp. cumin seeds
227g paneer cubed
300ml veg. stock
chopped fresh tomatoes (250g-ish)
200g spinach leaves-wilted in a colander with boiling water from the kettle then chopped
145g shelled peas (*you can of course use frozen if you don’t have fresh)
coriander leaves chopped fine to garnish
A few extra whole toasted cashews to serve
- Blitz onion, cashews, garlic and ginger to a rough paste in a blender with a little water.
- Mix sugar, curry powder, salt, chilli powder, fenugreek leaves, coriander powder, turmeric and tomato puree in a bowl. Add the cream and lemon juice, green chilli and coriander stems
- Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and add oil. Once it’s hot add the butter and cumin seeds and wait for them to splutter.
- Add the onion mix and fry until it turns a sort of frazzled beige colour (this took about 20 minutes over a low heat, giving any excess water the chance to evaporate). Add the paneer cubes and cook until everything is well crusted and golden.
- Stir in the stock, spiced cream and fresh tomatoes. Cook for 10 mins on a low heat.
- Finally, add the peas and spinach. Adjust seasoning to taste, scatter over the toasted cashews and coriander leaves. Serve with hot plain rice.