Banana Pancakes with Crispy Bacon & Maple Syrup

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Screenshot_2016-08-30-09-36-03-1[1] 31/08/2016

When life (your friend who buys way more bananas than she can possibly consume so gives you loads) gives you bananas, make a tasty breakfast! I’m pretty sure that’s how the saying goes, right? This recipe is super easy, super quick and super tasty. You might say, bananas! Fluffy pancakes are delicately flavoured with a hint of cinnamon and mashed bananas as well as slices of sweet banana for good measure. With salty, smokey bacon on the side, this is a winning breakfast.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 rashers smoked streaky bacon (or pancetta strips)
  • 2-3 heaped Tbsps plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 ripe, small bananas, 1 mashed, 1 thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg
  • 10g butter, melted
  • 50ml milk
  • maple syrup

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Method:

  1. Heat the grill to high. Arrange the bacon on a baking tray lined with foil. Cook for 5-7 mins until crisp, then turn off the grill but leave the tray inside to keep warm. In a bowl, mix the flour and baking powder with a pinch of salt and cinnamon. Make a well in the centre and add the mashed banana, egg and milk. Whisk to a smooth batter without any flour lumps.
  2. Heat a little butter in a large frying pan. Once sizzling, ladle in small dollops of the pancake batter, leaving a little space between each, as they will spread out. Put a few slices of banana onto the surface of each pancake and cook for 2 mins over a medium heat. When you see bubbles appear between the banana slices, flip the pancakes over and cook for 1 min more, until puffed up and golden. Transfer to a plate and keep warm with the bacon while you cook the rest. Serve the pancakes with the crispy bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Eggy Crumpets & Bacon

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Screenshot_2016-08-29-08-54-50-1[1] 29/08/2016

If you fancy something a bit special for your breakfast, why not try these eggy crumpets? They’re simple to make but taste delicious and the whole family will love tucking in to them. Top with crispy bacon and maple syrup and you’re set up for the day ahead. I’ve given a recipe for 4 people but you can easily halve, quarter or even double the quantities easily depending on how many you’re feeding… or how many more everyone will want after they’ve got a taste for them. If you can plan ahead and leave your crumpets to soak in the eggy mix for an hour then they’ll be even juicier but they do work well with just a quick dip. If you don’t fancy bacon, how about blueberries warmed in a pan and then poured over the top with maple syrup or a light dusting of icing sugar?

Ingredients:

  • 8 crumpets
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • Splash of milk
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 rashers of streaky bacon
  • A small knob of butter
  • Maple syrup to serve

Method:

  1. Preheat the grill. Beat together the eggs, milk and spices in a large baking dish. Add the crumpets, letting the egg mixture soak in on one side and then turning over. Set aside.
  2. Grill your bacon until nice and crispy on both sides.
  3. Heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the crumpets, four at a time. Sprinkle a touch of salt over the crumpets. Cook for a few minutes on one side until golden and then flip over and repeat.
  4. Serve two crumpets and a piece of bacon per person with drizzle with maple syrup.

Cheesy Stuffed Garlic Dough Balls

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Screenshot_2016-08-25-14-56-09-1[1] 28/08/2016

I only made these because I had a bit of pizza dough that needed using up in the fridge but this is how most of my tasty creations begin and this is no exception. Warm fresh dough encases a gooey cheese centre topped with rich garlic butter. They are fantastic served with a fresh tomato and basil sauce to dunk into. Far superior to anything you can buy, these go down an absolute storm when served in the middle of the table for everyone to dive into.

Ingredients:

  • 300g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Fine Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Instant dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1/2 Garlic granules
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 30g Butter, softened
  • 160ml luke warm Water
  • 50g-60g block of Mozzarella Cheese
  • Boursin, optional

For the garlic butter:

  • 20g Butter, melted.
  • 2 Garlic cloves, grated

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Directions:

  1. Measure the flour into a bowl.
  2. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt, sugar and garlic to the other side.
  3. Add the oil and butter and begin to mix, slowly add the water until the dough comes together. Once it has all come together, don’t add any more.
  4. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes on a lightly floured surface until the dough begins to look glossy and becomes stretchy.
  5. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave the dough somewhere warm to rise for an hour or so until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Preheat the oven to 220C/200Cfan.
  7. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and knock back to remove the air bubbles.
  8. Weigh the dough out into balls weighing approximately 30g
  9. Add roughly 3g of the cubed mozzarella to each piece of dough. At this point you can also sneak a mini scoop of garlic and herb boursin into the centre to intensify the oozy cheesy goodness. I only did it because I had a bit to use up but am so glad I did. Fold the dough around the cheese and roll into a ball.
  10. Arrange the doughballs (you should have about 15-20) onto a greaseproof lined baking sheet in a circle, leaving a little gap in between each one.
  11. Mix the melted butter and garlic together and brush half over the top of each dough ball.
  12. Place the dough balls in the oven for 15 minutes until golden. Brush the remaining garlic butter over the balls once baked for an extra garlicky flavour.

Hoisin Chicken Tacos

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Screenshot_2016-08-18-21-18-28-1[1] 19/08/2016

Another Chino-Tex-Mex fusion recipe for you. 1-because I am loving all things Chinese at the moment and 2-because I’m trying to use up everything in my fridge before I go on my jolly holidays. Seeing as I had an abundance of salad related items and plenty of Asian sauces and spices, this was a no-brainer. Crisp, refreshing herbs and sweet, zingy chicken are wrapped in a fluffy, soft taco. A more substantial version of duck pancakes if you like, this is a nice easy recipe, ready in about 15 minutes and absolutely lovely as a meal everyone can help themselves to.

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Serves 2 (3-4 tacos each)

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 fat garlic clove, grated
  • Small knob of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp five spice
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • Spring onions, julienned
  • Cucumber, middle removed, julienned
  • ¼ iceberg lettuce, shredded
  • Fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • Extra hoisin sauce for dipping
  • 6-8 soft tacos

Method:

  1. Prep your vegetables. Julienne the cucumber and spring onions and place in a serving bowl. Finely shred the lettuce and place in a serving bowl
  2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok over medium heat. Gently fry the chicken thighs for 5 minutes on each side until cooked through. Remove from the wok and place the chicken on a chopping board. Shred the meat with two forks then return to the wok with the garlic and ginger. Fry until the garlic and ginger become fragrant.
  3. Add the five spice, hoisin and soy sauce. Stir well to combine and remove from the heat.
  4. Microwave the tacos for 20-30 seconds so they become pliable and do not crack when assembling.
  5. To assemble, place a handful of mixed vegetables on a taco then spoon some of the shredded hoisin chicken on top. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and extra hoisin if desired. Fold into a taco shape and apply to face!

Crispy Spring Onion & Duck Pancake Rolls

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Screenshot_2016-08-17-18-15-13-1[1] 18/08/2016

By no means an authentic Chinese recipe, more a ‘can’t-decide-between-what-I-fancy-for-dinner-so-I’ll-incorporate-a-few-of-my-favourite-dishes’ moment, I have mixed the idea of Chinese spring onion pancakes with shredded duck rolls and burritos! Now there’s fusion for you.

This crispy duck wrap dish is a bit hands on but it’s worth it. The luxurious duck legs are roasted and tossed in delicious, aromatic spiced sauce then wrapped in a spring onion pancake blanket and pan-fried until crispy.

Serves 3

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 3 duck leg quarters, roasted
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ teaspoon five spice powder
  • 2 pieces dried orange or tangerine peel
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 Tbsps soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsps hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon yellow bean sauce
  • 3 spring onions, julienned

For the wrap dough:

  • 1 cup plain flour, plus extra flour for rolling
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped spring onions
  • Fresh coriander, to garnish

Instructions:

  1. Shred the roasted duck leg meat discarding the bones and skin. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium high heat and brown the duck meat. Add the anise, five spice, tangerine, pepper, cloves, bay leaves, and garlic. Toast the spices for a minute and add the rice wine, soy, hoisin, and yellow bean sauce. Fry then set aside to cool. You should have a saucy but thick mix. Remove the whole spices. Julienne the spring onions and set aside.
  2. Make the wrap dough by mixing the flour and hot water. Add the cold water and knead for a couple minutes. Form into a ball, cover in cling film and set aside.
  3. Separate the dough into 3 equal portions. Roll out the wrap into a 5 by 13-inch rectangle. Brush lightly with sesame oil and spread with some chopped scallion. Fold each end of the dough towards the middle, so that you have three layers. Brush the top with sesame oil and fold in half again. Brush with sesame oil and fold in half for a last time. Roll the dough out into another rectangle, about 6 inches by 10 inches. Place one portion of duck in the middle, along with some julienned spring onion. Fold over like a burrito and make sure everything is sealed.
  4. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Fry the wraps until brown and crispy on all sides. Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed greens and dipping sauce of your choice.

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Curried Shitake Steamed Bao

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Screenshot_2016-08-12-23-29-46-1[1] 14/08/2016

One of my first ever posts was a recipe for Char Sui Chicken Steamed Buns. I have recently rediscovered my love for real authentic Chinese cuisine, especially dim sum. This is an alternative take on a steamed bun with a full flavoured, spicy mushroom filling encased by pillow-soft dough.

Makes 16

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (just warm to the touch)
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

For the filling:

  • 250g fresh shitake mushrooms
  • 250g fresh chestnut mushrooms
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • A knob of ginger, grated
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 100ml approx. Beef stock
  • Cornflour slurry (1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1-2 tsp water)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • A handful of frozen peas

Method:

  1. The dough: Put the yeast in a small bowl, add the water and set aside for 1 minute to proof.
  2. Whisk in the oil to blend and dissolve the yeast. Set aside.
  3. Combine the sugar, baking powder and flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon, moving from the centre toward the rim, to work in all the flour. (Add lukewarm water by the teaspoon if this doesn’t happen with relative ease.)  Keep stirring as a ragged, soft mass forms. Then use your fingers to gather and pat the dough together into a ball. Transfer to a work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until smooth, fingertip-soft and slightly elastic. (You shouldn’t need any additional flour on the work surface if the dough was properly made. Keep kneading, and after the first minute or two, the dough shouldn’t stick to your fingers. If it does, work in a sprinkling of flour.) Press your finger into the dough; the dough should spring back, with a faint indentation remaining.
  4. Lightly oil a clean bowl and add the dough.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and put in a warm, draft-free place to rise until nearly doubled, 30-45 minutes (timing will vary depending on the temperature of the room). The dough is now ready to use. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate the dough until needed.
  6. The filling: While the dough is rising, gently fry the onion, garlic and ginger in the oil in a wok until softened. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add to the wok. Fry for a couple of minutes to soften then add the spices and soy sauce.
  7. Stir everything to combine then add the beef stock. Add the cornflour slurry and mix well. The mushroom mix should be quite thick. Add more beef stock if you think it is too thick. Add the peas and season with pepper. Stir everything to combine then transfer to a bowl to cool.
  8. Assemble: Transfer the dough to a very lightly floured work surface, gather it into a ball and then pat it to flatten it into a thick disk.
  9. Cut the disk in half and keep the second half covered to prevent it from drying out.
  10. Roll the first half into a 12” log and then cut it crosswise into 8 even pieces.
  11. Flatten one piece of dough into a ¼” thick disk, moistening your hands with a little water if the dough becomes too dry.
  12. Use an Asian dumpling pin (or regular rolling pin) roll the pieces into circles about 3 ¼” in diameter, rolling the outer edges thinner than the centre.
  13. To assemble the buns:  hold a dough circle in a slightly cupped hand.
  14. Use a spoon or fork to centre about 4 teaspoons of filling on the dough circle, pressing down very gently and keeping about ½”- ¾” of the dough clear on all sides; your hand will automatically close slightly.
  15. Use the thumb of the hand cradling the bun to push down the filling; using the fingers of the other hand, pull up the dough edge and pleat and pinch the rim together to form a closed bun.
  16. Completely enclose the filling by pinching and twisting the dough closed.
  17. Place the finished bun on a piece of parchment, pleated side up. (The parchment is important otherwise the buns will stick to the steamer.)
  18. Repeat with the remaining dough and loosely cover the assembled buns with a kitchen towel until puffed and nearly doubled in size, 10-30 minutes, depending on the temperature in the room.
  19. Steaming: When the buns are almost ready, bring water to boil in a wok and placing a steamer basket on top.
  20. Place buns in the steamer basket, spacing them 1” apart and 1” away from the basket wall.
  21. Cover the buns and steam until puffed and the dough is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  22. Transfer the buns, still on their parchment paper squares, to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Repeat steaming until all the buns are cooked.
  23. Serve warm or room temperature with a sauce made from soy sauce and a bit of garlic chilli paste (sambal olek).
  24. Make ahead: Can be made up to 6 hours in advance – shape and fill the buns then keep refrigerated to slow the rising process.  Steam directly from the refrigerator.
  25. To freeze: May be frozen up to 2 months. Prepare the buns fully and after steaming allow to come to room temperature then place on a parchment lined sheet pan and freeze until solid.  Place frozen buns in a Ziploc for longer storage.  Allow to thaw at room temperature for 15 minutes then re-steam 12-15 minutes to warm through.

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Spiced Butternut Squash Cake with Mexican Chocolate Mousse

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Screenshot_2016-08-12-18-14-12-1[1] 12/08/2016

It’s not even funny how good this cake is. I mean seriously good. The squash makes for an incredibly moist sponge brought to life by warming spices and it is sandwiched together with heavenly, creamy chocolate mousse spiked with a tiny bit of chilli heat for a tingling surprise.

This recipe came about as I had half a huge butternut squash to use up and didn’t fancy making another soup (from which the first half was used). Butternut squash is extremely versatile and when pureed it can be used in all manner of recipes too. Squash puree is also fantastic stirred into a cheesy sauce for a pasta bake amongst many other things. But before I go on a ramble about the many uses of the vegetable, let me tell you about its use here.

I have used squash in place of the popular tinned pumpkin puree which is full of additives, preservatives and sweeteners. While I am aware that this cake is not exactly a diet food, I at least know exactly what is in it and can add flavour with beautiful, natural spices.

To create squash puree, peel and deseed the butternut. Cut into small dice and place in a microwavable bowl. Cover with clingfilm and microwave on full power for 5-8 minutes or until the squash can be easily… squashed between your fingers. Drain away any water that may have collected from the steam in the bowl then mash until smooth. You can do this in a blender for very fine results but I was saving on the washing up and used a potato masher which gave slightly coarser puree that I personally really liked in the overall bake. You are now left with about 2 cups of puree, depending on the size of your squash, which is just perfect for this amazing recipe.

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Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1⅓ cups golden caster sugar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup yogurt (I used yeo valley 0% fat)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups butternut squash puree
  • 4 eggs

For the chocolate mousse filling/topping:

  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips (70% cocoa)
  • 1 cup cold double cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan. Grease and line 2 round 20cm cake tins.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In a separate large bowl, combine sugar and oil. Stir in yogurt, vanilla, and squash. Beat eggs in one at a time, mixing very well after each addition.
  3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared tins. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove from the tins straight away and place on a wire rack. Cool completely.
  4. While that’s happening, melt the chocolate chips and allow the chocolate to cool a bit. Whisk together the heavy cream, cocoa powder, cinnamon and chili powder. Whip just until the cream reaches the “stiff peaks” stage. Carefully fold about half of the chocolate into the cream. Then fold in the remaining chocolate.
  5. When the cake is completely cool, layer the cream in the middle and on top of the cake.