Tag Archives: Bake

Learning to swim…oh, and eating banana bread

Look I know I’m supposed the be the parent here, but in all likelihood, I’m really just seven years old on the inside. Give me a pool and I want to do nothing more than to dive-bomb in and create a splash large enough the engulf all the sun loungers. Not this time though. This time I’m the responsible parent taking Ellis for his first swim. Yep that’s right. Just ten short weeks after (very slowly) entering the world he’s ready for his first swim.

Now swimming with a 10-week old is a new experience on me. Plus judging by the look of the five other nervous blokes in the pool it wasn’t their first time. It all started well enough with a few small splashes, followed by a few gentle bounces. Easy right? Our confidence was brimming and there were even a few ‘we’ve got this handled’ nods across the pool between the Dads…but then, they moved the lesson up a level and introduced dunking the infants.

Now dunking your most prized procession under the watchful eye of his mother, is pretty much up there when it comes to high pressure moments. It goes like this…You quietly say his name, followed by ‘ready!’ and under the water he goes for a very brief second. Easy right? I’m father #3 and have to watch two other Dads pull it off, whilst I nervously bob up and down wondering how much baby wee is actually in this pool.

We’re up. I can see Dad #6 bobbing around nervously in the corner of my eye giving me new found confidence. “Ellis…..ready” and under he goes popping out of the water like a frog that’s been picked up by his back. This is simultaneously followed by whoops and cheers around the pool. We did it and he’s loving the water. We should celebrate right? Maybe some back slapping? A bit more whooping? Nope. The instructor likes to celebrate by getting all six Dads to sing twinkle twinkle little star. So off we bounce whilst murmuring the nursery rhyme out the corner of our mouths.

Around this time I simultaneously start to crave banana bread whilst singing along, feeling vaguely annoyed we don’t have any (mostly because I haven’t made it before) and pressingly, given the context of this blog, why I don’t have a go to banana bread recipe.  So here it is. My go to banana bread recipe.

Chocolate & Banana Loaf Recipe 
125g unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
2 tsp baking powder
4 very ripe mashed bananas
100g dark chocolate
50g walnut pieces

Mashed Banana

Banana Bread Mixture

Grease a 900g loaf tin and line with baking paper and pre-heat your oven to 180°C. With an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar, Add the vanilla extract and eggs until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder into mixture and continue to mix. Once combined, add the mashed bananas. Once it’s all combined break up the chocolate and stir in with the walnut pieces.

Pour into the lined loaf tin and level out with a spatula. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin to cool. Best eaten with a mug of tea after a long swim.

Banana Bread Recipe

Sweet Potato Brownies

Twelve months ago, I attempted to shift my treat addiction into the sugar and dairy free category. I concluded that the best Paleo pudding was a sliced apple or square of dark chocolate. Pretty dull huh?  I had yet to discover anything as amazing as these sweet potato brownies. Then out of the blue we got pregnant. Yay! Suddenly, we were able to justify brownies with extra ice cream, lemon tart and any other goodies. Wait! What was that you said about butter and sugar? Okay, sure, I had a little bit. I mean, I’ve got to support Anna during the pregnancy right? Well, now the little fella is here I’m bang out of excuses. Time to get back on the sugar and dairy free bandwagon.

Sweet Potato Brownie Recipe

Now I know I’m not the first food blogger to post about these magical Ella Woodward sweet potato brownies. But when you want to unlock sweetness’s hold on richness, oh friends, please do make these brownie wonders. Those eagle eyed readers may have noticed I’ve slightly adapted the recipe. Firstly, because sourcing Medjool dates probably calls for a camel trek in Morocco. They’re pretty hard to source, so I’ve substituted them for Tunisian dates. You can get them in most health food shops. Secondly, I like my brownies to have a little bit of texture. The sweet potato makes these very creamy and adding the walnuts gives them that little bit of extra brownie like texture.

Pitted Dates
Dates for Sweet Potato Brownie recipe

Makes 10 – 12 brownies
600g sweet potatoes
16 Tunisian dates
80g ground almonds
100g buckwheat flour
20g walnut pieces
4 tbsp raw cacao powder
3 tbsp maple syrup

Sweet Potato Brownie Mix
Sweet Potato Brownie Mix

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into chunks. Place in a glass bowl with a tablespoon of water, cover with clingfilm and microwave for 12 minutes. Until they’re soft and fall apart.

Add the cooked sweet potato and pitted dates to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pre-mix the remaining ingredients and stir into the creamy mixture. Stir well.

Place the mixture into a lined baking dish and cook for about 20 – 30 minutes, until you can pierce the brownie mix with a fork and it comes out dry. Remove the tray and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

Sweet Potato Brownies
Sweet Potato Brownies

Greek Holiday Gyros

There are a whole load of foods that I’m pretty sure aren’t worth the trouble of cooking at home, though I suspect this list varies depending on where you live. I’m fairly certain I won’t be making  a sour dough loaf in my kitchen, now I’ve discovered the the flour pot bakery. But all bets are off when you consider the costs of eating abroad, but are dreaming of the lazy Mediterranean street food wonder that is gyros.

Maybe we’d sampled a bit too much of the local Ouzo on our Villa Plus holiday,  perhaps it was mild sun stroke, but we’re both pretty sure that discovering gyros made by a little old lady in Crete was a holiday food sensation. Sure you can get gyros anywhere, but this little old lady made fresh flatbread like it was as easy as tying your shoelace. It was soft, stuffed with fresh tzatziki and enough red onion to shake a stick at.

Flatbread dough

Flatbread

Flat breads – makes 4
175g self raising flour
Pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
175g natural yoghurt

Tzatziki
175g plain yoghurt
1 large cucumber
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
Squeeze of a lemon
Handful of fresh mint
Salt and pepper to taste

Everything else
2 chicken breasts
2 large tomatoes
1 red onion
Two white potatoes
Olive oil

Slice your potatoes into chips before mixing together in a baking tray with olive oil and salt. Place in the oven at 200 °F and leave to bake. Squeeze one half of the lemon and a glug of olive oil over the chicken. Season with salt and pepper, then leave to the side to marinade.

Mix the flat bread ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with your hands. Tip the mix onto a floured work surface and knead for a minute or two. It’s not like a normal bread recipe, so you only have to knead enough to bring it together. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a plate.

Chips

If you’re in Greece then the likelihood of needing to make your own tzatziki will be fairly limited. However, I’m down Brighton….so erm, will be making my own. Grate the cucumber and squeeze with your hands until all the excess liquid has gone. Then combine with the lemon juice, cucumber, chopped mint, yoghurt and crushed garlic. Season to taste. Slice the onion and tomato, then set aside to use later

Back to the flat breads. Place the dough onto a floured surface and divide and roll into 6 separate balls. With your hands, pat and flatten, then use a rolling pin to roll each piece into a circle, roughly 3mm thick.  Place your griddle pan on a high heat, then once smoking hot, cook each flatbread for 1 to 2 minutes each side, or until they puff up.

In the same griddle pan place the chicken skin side down and cook for 3 minutes. Place the pan into the pre-heated oven with the chips without ever turning the chicken. After 12 minutes take the chicken out of the oven, turn them over and leave to rest.  Remove the chips from the oven and pat dry on kitchen towel.

Tzatziki recipe

Fresh tzatziki

To assemble take one flat bread and fill with sliced chicken, chips, sliced tomato and sliced red onion. Dollop a generous amount of tzatziki on top and fold in the edges. And it is exactly what  you should make this weekend. Stuff these flat breads with whatever meat you fancy on the BBQ to get you dreaming of long lazy summer holidays

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Paleo BlueBerry, Coconut & Banana Cookies

As I roll into my annual “must lose the spare tyre” post festive detox, I’m on the hunt for an eating plan I can, erm…get my teeth into. Forget that 5:1 diet, that’s just starvation, but ‘hello’ to Paleo.  Eat as much as you like. Avoid the carbs, dairy and basically anything that comes in a box with microwave instructions. This seems achievable right? Now I won’t lie. I’ve had a crack at this before and the results, well in my mind anyway, seemed pretty good. So I’m back on it and ready to smash out 4-weeks of nothing by grass fed meat and vegetables. What could go wrong.

Prep seems to be the key to avoiding temptation here. So armed with enough lunch boxes to host my own Tupperware party and I’m ready to go. Chicken salad lunch. Check. Almonds to graze on. Check. 11am bit of cake for my cup of tea……erm, nope.

Cookie Mix

So here’s my challenge. Create a cake that tastes like a cake, but it’s actually gluten and wheat free. So here it is.

Guilt Gluten Free Blueberry, Banana and Coconut Cakes
170g coconut flour
3 organic eggs
1tsp baking soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
2 mashed ripe bananas
125g fresh blueberries
1tbsp olive oil
60g maple syrup
Pinch of salt

Blueberries

I’ve learnt two things about coconut flour. It’s expensive and absorbs any amount of moisture like a sponge. So I needed a way to make it go a little further, plus add enough moisture to prevent it tasting like I’d just eaten some sand. To get around this I used mashed banana and packed it full of healthy blueberries. It worked a treat and it’s pretty simple.

Heat your oven up to 200°C and combine all the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl combine the banana, eggs, olive oil and maple syrup with a food mixer. Bit-by-bit add all your dry ingredients until combined. Gently fold in your blueberries.

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Baked Cakes

Don’t worry if the batter appears fairly sticky. That’s just the coconut flour, but if your want more moisture in the batter supplement some coconut flour for ground almonds. Pour the batter into a lined baking tray and smooth flat.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Leave to cool before cutting into cake slices. Either cut into bars, or for this post I used a cookie cutter and made them into handy little handheld cakes.

Paleo Cakes