Lady finger banana bread

Banana Bread

They say that Cavendish banana’s are the better banana to cook with but I’ve never had any complaints about banana bread made with Lady Finger bananas. We used to get a glut when all the bananas on the Tiffin’s tree next door all ripened at once.

Banana bread is the only recipe I know of when it’s better if the ingredients are overripe.

This recipe uses plain flour combined with baking powder rather rather than self raising flour (see Flour Facts) which makes it easier than mucking around with both types of flour. If you don’t have baking powder, the recipe calls for 1 3/4 self raising and 1/4 plain flour.

2 cups plain flour
7 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup brown sugar
1//2 cup full cream milk
2 eggs, lightly whisked
50g butter, melted then cooled
4 overripe small lady finger bananas, mashed*

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease an 11 x 21cm loaf pan with melted butter. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper. In a large bowl, sift the plain flour and baking powder together at least twice to combine then add the cinnamon. Stir in the brown sugar, ensuring there are no lumps and make a well in the centre.

In a separate bowl place the milk, eggs, melted butter and mashed banana and stir until well combined. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan for 5 minutes to cool before turning out onto a wire rack.

*The number of bananas required is dependent on their size. For the cake in this photo, I used 8 organic/home grown Lady Finger bananas thanks to #nadine_shaw. These were each the size of an actual lady’s – albeit very chubby – finger.(SF)

Photo thanks to #nadine_shaw and her “dodgy” iPhone.

Vinaigrette

The classic vinaigrette contains olive oil and vinegar. The proportion was once quite a definite 2:1, but even that rule is no longer followed. People have become more health conscious, there is a far greater variety of oils and vinegars available, and I think that people are thinking more about what they are doing when they are cooking. Some salads need a lighter touch than others, and garlic is no longer considered necessary in a dressing.

I would say that a classic vinaigrette is still made with virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar, with perhaps just a touch of lemon juice, so my classic vinaigrette is as follows.

3 tablespoons olive oil (virgin)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic or 2 roasted garlic cloves (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Whisk all ingredients together, and toss over salad just before serving.

If serving more than one dressed salad in a meal, or at a party, try to vary your vinaigrettes, both in the oils used and the vinegars. Apple Cider Vinegar has pretty much replaced the standard white wine vinegar for us, so that’s what we use most of the time.

Remember too, that lemon juice is treated as a vinegar for the purpose of the exercise. Fresh herbs steeped in white wine vinegar and left in a corner of the cupboard just keep getting better and better.

Poached eggs with smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce

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If you asked ten people what Eggs Benedict was, I am sure nine and a half of them would tell you it was poached eggs sitting on smoked salmon with hollandaise sauce.

Which is what happens when restaurants (and some food writers) are sloppy with their naming. A similar situation exists with Eggs Florentine.

Nevertheless, I just love eating this, whatever it is called.

4 thick slices of sourdough bread
Olive oil
1 clove of garlic (optional)
A generous quantity of smoked salmon
8 poached eggs (these can be poached in advance and reheated, as they would be in a restaurant situation)
Hollandaise sauce
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A sprig of dill or tarragon, to garnish

Brush both sides of the sourdough slices with a little olive oil and place under a hot grill for 1 – 2 minutes each side, until crisp and golden. Rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove.

Top each slice of sourdough with a generous quantity of smoked salmon, top the smoked salmon with 2 reheated and well-drained poached eggs. Spoon hollandaise sauce over the eggs.

Sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper if using, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Garnish with a sprig of dill or tarragon and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Variation: Cook some spinach in a little butter to wilt, then chop finely. Transfer the spinach to a sieve and, using the back of a spoon, press out as much water as possible. Season the spinach with salt and freshly ground pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Top each slice of sourdough with the spinach, add the smoked salmon, the poached eggs, then the hollandaise sauce. Garnish as above.

Almond Christmas Wafers

christmas almond wafers

185g butter, softened
250g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 eggs
250g plain flour, sifted
100g ground almonds

Beat butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and almonds and mix to a firm dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until very firm.

Divide dough into 4 portions, roll out one portion 5mm thick and refrigerate the remainder until required. Using biscuit cutters in Christmas shapes cut out the dough (Christmas trees, angels, stars, etc.). Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake on a greased and lined baking tray at 180C for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden.
Store in an airtight container. Dust some of the shapes with icing sugar before serving.

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

Layered Mascarpone and Berry Christmas Pudding

250g mascarpone
3 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons caster sugar
300ml cream
125g amaretti biscuits, crushed
125g hazelnuts, chopped
1 punnet blueberries
2-3 punnets strawberries
Extra blueberries and strawberries for decoration
Toasted slivered almonds for decoration

Almond Christmas Wafers to serve. (Recipe follows)

Process mascarpone with egg yolks and sugar in a food processor until smooth. Whip cream until soft peaks form and fold through the mixture. Carefully wash and dry the beater, then beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold through the mascarpone mixture. Fold in the amaretti crumbs and the hazelnuts.

Wash and hull the strawberries, cut into halves, quarters if they are very large. Wash and dry the blueberries.

Arrange alternating layers of mascarpone and mixed berries in a glass serving bowl, finishing with a layer of the mascarpone. Do this carefully, as the dessert looks spectacular through the glass. Chill well. Decorate the top with a wreath of berries and scattered almonds slivers.

To serve, place on a large serving platter and surround with almond Christmas wafers.

Photo by: Taste.com.au

Salmon Mousse

Salmon Mousse

This is definitely the best salmon mousse recipe ever. It is from Beverley Sutherland Smith’s wonderful old (1975) book, ‘A Taste for All Seasons’.

2 x 220g tins of best quality red or pink salmon
1 tablespoon gelatine
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon horseradish cream
1 tablespoon home-made mayonnaise
1 cup finely diced celery
2 teaspoons chopped capers
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped bread and butter cucumbers
½ cup cream, lightly whipped
Drain the salmon and reserve liquid. Remove any bones and dark skin.

Mash, or put the salmon into a food processor for a few seconds and process until it is well broken up. If a food processor is used, a little of the reserved liquid may be added so that the salmon is not too dry.

Add gelatine to water, (not the other way around) and stir to dissolve the gelatine over hot water. Mix the dissolved gelatine with sugar, mustard powder, salt, horseradish cream and mayonnaise and stir this into the salmon. Add the celery, capers, green onions and bread and butter cucumbers. Lastly fold in the whipped cream. Put into a lightly oiled mould to set.

Cover and refrigerate. Mousse will keep well for several days.

Serve with cucumber salad.

 Photo by: http://lindaraxa.blogspot.com.au

Mango and Chilli Mayonnaise

Crab sandwich with mango and chilli mayonnaise

This one is my own. Unfortunately, as usual, I have never paid much attention to quantities, but the thicker the mayonnaise is to begin with, the more mango and chilli paste it will hold.

If you are sure your guests like coriander, add finely chopped leaves at the end. Otherwise finely chopped mint leaves work equally well. The mayonnaise keeps better without either.

This mayonnaise is perfect with prawns or crabs.

250ml (1 cup) mayonnaise (home made is preferable but Helman’s is the best alternative)
125ml fresh mango puree
1 tablespoon roasted chilli paste (sambal oelek)
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander or mint leaves, stalks removed (optional)

Combine all ingredients until well blended.

Cocktail Sauce or Cocktail Mayonnaise

Have you ever thought how nice it would be if we had Dad’s beloved seafood cocktail sauce already made up? Well we could, if only Dad liked it in the form of mayonnaise instead of based on cream.

250ml mayonnaise (home made is preferable but Helman’s is the best alternative)
4 tablespoons Heinz tomato sauce
1 teaspoon brandy
A good dash of Lea and Perrins sauce, to taste
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients well.