Baking Banana Bread

Last week my husband hit the jackpot and came home with some overripe bananas that he had found in the supermarket. Normally I freeze these to use in the morning smoothies that I make. Seeing as it is the school vacation, I decided to make a loaf of one of my family’s favourite: banana bread. The recipe comes from the first cookbook I ever bought: Cooking The South African Way by Magdaleen van Wyk.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
Banana Bread. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The ingredients for this recipe are simple: 240g cake flour, 125 g butter, 1 cup sugar (I use 1/3 cup), 4 ripe bananas (I use 5), 2 eggs,1/2/ tsp salt, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 65ml water. Baring the bananas, these things can always be found in my cupboard. The recipe is easy to make and one I used to use often when I did not have a hand-held mixer. I cream the butter and sugar with a fork, then stir in the mashed bananas. Before adding the sifted flour and salt, I beat in the eggs one at a time. The bicarb is dissolved in the water and then added to the mixture before the baking powder. After 45 minutes in an oven heated at 180C/350F, the cake smells heavenly while cooling on the rack.

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014
A slice of banana bread. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

The loaf of banana bread did not last long – for two nights we had a slice with our tea. I enjoyed mine with a bit of butter on it. Yum! A rare treat that my girls want me to repeat soon. 🙂

Do you enjoy eating banana bread?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

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Baked Salmon with Basil and Parsley

I recently tried, for the first time, to prepare salmon. Reading up on the omegas, I had learned that this pink-fleshed fish is perfect to eat when you want to increase the number of omega 3s in your diet. I searched for a recipe that would not require any frying as I wanted to avoid trans fats as well as more omega 6s in my meal. Deciding on baked fish, I marinated it in virgin pressed olive oil mixed with garlic, basil, parsley, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. The herbs allowed me to use less salt, and add a wonderful flavour to the dish. I enjoy using fresh herbs but, if they are unavailable, the dried ones work just as well. When making this dish, I have used both fresh and dried herbs. And either way, the fish tastes delicious.

Ingredients:

Baked Salmon with Basil and Parsley. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

4 wild salmon fillets (the wild fillets are better as they have more omega 3s than the ones from fish factories)

2 cloves of garlic,crushed

Virgin pressed olive oil (I used about 6 tablespoons)

A large handful fresh chopped basil (you can also use about 1 tablespoon dried basil)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper (I used a little less as my children do not enjoy pepper)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (or a teaspoon dried parsley)

Method:

1. In a medium glass bowl mix the crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, parsley and basil. Lay the salmon fillets out in a baking dish and cover with the mixture. Let the fish marinade in the oil for about an hour in the fridge, turning occasionally.

2. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (375 degrees F).

3. Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

I served the baked salmon with corn as it was season, some roasted vegetables, and a large salad. Leftovers? I enjoy these the next day for my lunch: I break the fish up into bite-sized pieces and add it to my salad. Yummy!

Do you eat salmon? How do you prepare it?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Strawberry Spring Smoothie

Ingredients for a Strawberry Spring Smoothie. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Spring is in the air, and luscious, red strawberries abound in the supermarket. I enjoy the succulent taste of these ripened red berries.

My daughters and I savour a delicious drink I make filled with the taste of Spring. It is so good, they always ask for more! And I am always eager to give them more of this antioxident beverage.

As my recipe for this drink is non-dairy, it is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant. It is also suitable for those who follow a vegan diet as no animal products are used.

In a blender I add the following:

  • 2 ripened and peeled bananas. The skin should be yellow, not tinged with green. When spotted with brown, you know they are sweet.
  • 2 or 3 ripened barlett  pears. The pears should be a golden-yellow. If they are not ripened, they are not as sweet. (If I do not have barlett pears, I use a bunch of green grapes – tastes just as delicious).
  • 15 strawberries. Trim the green tops off them and pop them in whole. Sometimes I freeze the strawberries thus helping to create a cool thirst quencher.
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed oil. This is for omega-3s. I use the organic, virgin pressed oil.
  • A handful of almond nuts – perfect for calcium.
  • A large glass of filtered water (about 375ml). If you prefer your juice to be thick, add less water.
Ready to drink. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Once I have all the ingredients in, I blend until all fruit has been liquidised. I pour into glasses, pop in a straw for the children, and we enjoy our snack. I often blend these fruits to create a post-workout drink in the morning; as well as make some for my husband as a breakfast drink.

Do you enjoy eating strawberries? What is your favourite post-workout drink/smoothie?

Sunday Post: Recipe

Each week Jakesprinters suggests a theme for creative inspiration. You can post your response to the theme on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next theme is announced. Your response can be either a photo, a video, music or a piece of writing. Remember to post your link in the comments section of the weekly challenge.

This week’s prompt is: Recipe

How often do you page through recipe books and magazines looking at photos of food and the attached recipes? Or browsed on the internet looking for cooking inspiration? (I have now added looking at food blogs to the mix!) You look at the deliciously presented food and think:”That looks yummy! I really should try making it.” But you never get round to making that dish in your own kitchen.

An example recipe, printed from the Wikibooks ...
A recipe found on the internet. Image via Wikipedia

Why do we not often try out the recipes that are printed month after month in the magazines we read? At times my first obstacle is the list of ingredients. If I do not already have the ingredients lining the shelves of my cupboard, the chances of me making a spectacular dish is slim. Unless I make an effort, my grocery shopping will not include an ingredient I may not use again. And if the recipe holds too many milk products, or too much meat, it is flipped over and forgotten.

The second reason for me not trying out a recipe is the group of eaters for whom I am cooking. My children are still at that fussy age where they hesitate to try something new – especially my youngest. My husband, too, has particular dislikes. So many recipes that I would have tried, and probably enjoyed, before my household expanded remain untested. Before I was educated in the ways of my family’s eating habits, I would try these recipes and hear “I don’t like this” – and eat the leftovers over the next couple of days.

The third reason is that the recipe at times looks just to complicated; and would require space in which to make it. I currently work in a tiny kitchen that has hardly any table top space. Making well-loved recipes at times is difficult and I cannot summon up the interest to follow a set of instructions that would require me to have more space than I currently have access to.

There are times, however, when I do break down and try a recipe that I have snipped out of the paper, or torn out of a magazine. I break down through sheer boredom with our current menu. Once the dish is made (which never looks like the photo accompanying the recipe), I waited with bated breath while the mouths at our dinner table sample the food. And if it is given the thumbs up, then I know I can add the dish to my repertoire of meals.

Do you try out new recipes frequently? What are your favourite?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms

Fresh Bok Choy and Dried Shiitake Mushrooms. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

My family and I enjoy the taste of Shiitake mushrooms married with Bok Choy. Boy Choy, a vegetable originally from China, is a mild tasting vegetable with crunchy stems. A good source of calium, low in sodium and high in vitamins A and C, Bok Choy makes for a nutritional meal. When shopping for this vegetable, avoid buying Bok Choy that has deformed stalks or brown spots on the stems. This shows that the growing conditions for the plant was poor. If you notice that the plant has yellow leaves, know that the Bok Choy is old.

Shiitake mushrooms are dried mushrooms that have been exported from East Asia. Native to China and Japan, this aromatic mushroom is considered a delicacy in many East Asian dishes. During the Ming dynasty in China they were used, not only as a food, but also for medicinal purposes as a remedy for: upper respiratory diseases, poor blood circulation, liver trouble, exhaustion and weakness, and to boost qi (life energy). Rich in flavour, the Shitake mushroom has many nutritional properties and is an excellent source of selenium, iron, dietary fibre and vitamin C.

Ingredients for Recipe:

Bok Choy (the amount depends on how many people you are cooking for); shiitake mushrooms; soy sauce; cooking wine and canola oil for frying.

Method:

When cooking with Shiitake mushrooms, you need to rehydrate them before using. What I do is place a handful in a bowl (depending on how much Bok Choy I am cooking), pour some boiled water over them, and cover. After an hour they will be soft enough to use. Experience has shown me that the longer these dried mushrooms are soaked, the more flavourful they are.

Soak the Bok Choy in some water. Wash each leaf carefully to ensure all the sand has been washed off. Chop, separating the leaves from the stem. I chop the stems and leaves into bite size pieces, ready for easy eating with chopsticks.

Separate the stems from the hoods of the shiitake mushrooms. Discard the stems as they are too hard to eat. Chop the hoods of the mushrooms into strips.

Stir-fried Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushrooms. © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

You are now ready to stir fry. Pour some oil into your wok. Once the oil is heated, stir in the mushrooms. Mmm, the aroma is tantalising! Add stems of the Bok Choy, soy sauce, and a tablespoon of cooking wine into the wok. Add the water in which you soaked the mushrooms, discarding the last bit with the sediment from the mushrooms. Stir your vegetables, cooking for a short period of time so that the stems remain crispy. Add the leaves and toss until cooked. Pour into a serving plate.

Quick and easy! The stir fried Bok Choy with Shiitake mushrooms is now ready to eat with rice. Delicious!

Have you tried eating either Bok Choy or Shiitake mushrooms? Do you enjoy stir fried cooking?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

 

Broccoli quiche/pie

My girls enjoy eating broccoli and, because there are not too many vegetables that they will eat, I have had to find various ways in which to prepare it. I adapted the following vegetarian recipe to suit our tastes. The quiche is quick and easy to make – the oven does most of the work! It is delicious to eat with a salad and some fresh corn: perfect for those warm days when you want to eat a light lunch or dinner. On the colder days I prepare it with some squash, and a little mix of peas and carrots. While the pie is baking, you can spend time with your feet up, reading a book (I wish!)

Perfect for a light lunch or dinner, © Colline Kook-Chun, 2012

Ingredients

Butter

Fresh broccoli, cut into pieces

2 cloves garlic (optional: I have made this recipe with, and without, garlic. Tastes good both ways)

Shredded mozzarella cheese

4 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups milk (I use unsweetened soya milk)

Butter puff pastry (I buy mine from the supermarket. Use butter pastry as opposed to the one made with oil – it tastes better!)

1 teaspoon salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and broccoli. Cook until the vegetable is tender (it is best not to over cook the broccoli). If you are not using garlic, you can steam the broccoli – this method works just as well.
  3. Line a quiche / pie dish with the butter puff pastry. Spoon the broccoli into the dish (I use enough to fill the space).  Sprinkle cheese generouslyover the broccoli.
  4. Beat eggs in a separate bowl. Add the milk to the eggs and season with salt. Slowly pour this mixture over the broccoli.
  5. Bake in the oven for 30 – 45 minutes until the centre is cooked.
  6. Eat with a salad and some vegetables. Enjoy!

Will you give this recipe a try? Is broccoli one of the vegetables you enjoy eating?