Thursday, 17 November 2011

For Goodness Sake!

Even though I watch a lot of cooking shows, there are very few "celebrity chefs" that I find truly inspiring and mostly watch their shows for its entertainment value. There is one exception to the rule for me though and that is High Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage. His enthusiasm for food absolutely bubbles over and always leaves me feeling like I should run into my kitchen to make something right this minute! Unfortunately he has been getting a lot of stick for his new show focusing on vegetables and has angered many a vegetarian by how he has tackled the subject. However, for me as a lover of meat, it has been a joy to watch and has made me really think about the amount of meat I eat every week.

I'll be first to admit that when I plan a meal, I almost always think of a meat ingredient first and view the vegetables as companion dishes. I very rarely put the veg in the starring role and this I have now come to realise is a real shame.Determined to put this right, I decided about a month ago that from now on I will prepare a minimum of two meals a week that are completely meat free. Not only is this good for our health and the planet, but it really pushes me to think so much more imaginatively when cooking. So far, I'm loving it.

From the usual suspects like Leak and Potato Soup to the more adventurous Chick-Pea and Tomato Curry, we have had some lovely veggie meals and last night was another meat free dinner. As the first real chills of winter were creeping into our flat last night, I was more than up for a steaming bowl of something loaded with carbs. What better than roasted butternut squash and sweet potato risotto! Sticky, creamy and chewy rice, turned bright orange with chunks of oven-roasted squash and sweet potato, elevated to dizzying heights with plenty of lemon zest and juice, this is a meal that would keep even the most hardened of carnivores happy.

Luckily, I made more than enough and have some left-overs for lunch today and while tucking into my bowlful, I am already contemplating our next vegetable starring dinner.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

Bananas, you either hate them or love them. Luckily everyone in my home loves them, even Little T has had a taste or two and enjoyed it thoroughly. I buy them almost religiously and you will always find a few yellow bananas in my fruit bowl. Sometimes though, we're just not quick enough to eat them all before they start to go black and then I just can't bring myself to eat them any more. Don't fear though, I will under no circumstances ever throw an over ripe banana away!!!! If there's anything that I love more than eating a fresh, just ripe banana, then it's sinking my teeth into a freshly baked, still slightly warm banana muffin.

Happily, this morning I came to find that this weeks bananas had gone to the wrong side of sweet and I was very pleased with the prospect of baking some muffins! But these aren't just your ordinary, run of the mill muffins, these are choc-chip & banana muffins. Sweet and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside speckled with tiny drops of milk chocolate and with the flavour of banana giving you a great big hug, these are just the thing to put a smile on your face.

I'm afraid that I have already eaten most of mine, so don't have any going spare, but that's all the more reason to go and bake your own!

Choc-chip & Banana Muffins:

  • 280g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 55g soft light brown sugar
  • 55g granulated white sugar
  • 3 large, very ripe bananas
  • 1 egg, beaten with a fork
  • 75ml milk
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 70g milk choc-chips
Preheat your oven to 200°C and prepare your muffin tin with paper cases.
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir in the choc-chips. 
In another bowl, mash the bananas thoroughly with a fork, you don't want any large chunks. Stir in the sugar, egg, milk and cooled butter. 
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour all of the wet ingredients into this. Using a large metal spoon, quickly mix everything together. Don't over-mix it, but just make sure that there are no lumps of dry ingredients left in the batter.
Spoon the mix into your muffin tin, making sure to not over-fill them. 
Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and spring back when lightly pressed with a finger.