Tag Archives: banana

Blueberry Banana Smoothie

19 Jul

come to mama!Today, I needed to take a break from all the richness that I cook. Dont get me wrong, I adore burnt cheese, tacos, and cakes. But a woman cannot live like that every day, even if everything is made from scratch, and I try and pay attention to fruits, vegetables, proteins and chocolate ­čśë

Today, I needed to be healthy. I wanted something that would be immensely satisfying, but at the same time would boost my immune system and soothe my rather too full tummy. I wanted something easy to consume, and yet full of vitamins, minerals, and all that other good health stuff.

Miles, my sister’s husband, regularly has a fruit smoothie for breakfast. It inspired me. Fruit smoothies can be decadent and delectable, while at the same time being incredibly good for you. And they are easy to make provided you have a blender or immersion blender. So yes, a smoothie. For breakfast, and that was about it the whole day save some water. I needed to feel full, but at the same time, I needed to give my system a little time to relax. That, and I know I am going to Nathalie’s Gourmet for dinner tomorrow night!

I chose the ingredients for my smoothie very carefully. Blueberries were at the top of my list. These are the ultimate superfood, and I think its just wonderful that they are such a pleasure to consume as well! I did some research, and blueberries just blow me away.

  • Tufts University analyzed 60 fruits and veg for antioxidant properties, and the gorgeous blueberries won, rating highest in their ability to destroy free radicals.
  • They are a veritable youth tonic. Anthocyanidins┬áin the blueberries stop free radical damage to cell and tissues, veins and vascular system.
  • Blueberries contain a huge amount of vitamin C.
  • Blueberries are better then red wine for protection against heart disease.
  • Ellagic acid┬áin blueberries blocks the metabolic pathways that lead to cancer.
  • Kaempferol a flavinoid that reduces the risk of ovarian cancer is abundant in blueberries.
  • They also contain fibers and tannins which promote digestive health.
  • And the same compounds found in cranberries that prevent or eliminate urinary tract infections are also present in blueberries.

Still not convinced? Just do a search for blueberries online, and be amazed at the extraordinary properties of this fruit.

As a cook, it doesnt hurt that blueberries are just so damn sexy and gorgeous. The blue purple berry is just so beautiful to look at. And the taste – tangy, sweet, sour, bright. Stunning. When blended, blueberries add a stunning purple hue to any smoothie, and I love the fact that you can actually see the healthiness you are about to consume!

A perfect complement to the blueberry, and a pretty amazing fruit in its own right, is my favourite, the banana. Sweet, and creamy, tasty and yet chock full of potassium, fiber, vitamins and minerals, the banana is the perfect addition to any meal. I love bananas anywhichway. Sliced in yogurt as a cooling raita with spice Indian food. Baked in a cake. Eaten on its own. Frozen with chocolate. I froze some bananas (peeled) without chocolate, and they are perfect here. You dont have to add ice to get a cold smoothie because the frozen berries and banana do it for you while adding value.

As the basis for these beautiful fruits, fat free Greek yogurt is phenomenal. It adds its own tangy creamy taste, but is also packed with calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin-vitamin B2, iodine, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid-vitamin B5, zinc, potassium, protein and molybdenum. And, it has wonderful little live bacteria in it which boost the immune system, regulate the digestive tract, and can boost good cholesterol while lowering bad. I try and use low fat or fat free yogurt because to me, it tastes very similar to its fattier sibling, while being much healthier. If you are a vegan, try one of the great soy yogurts out there. They work almost as well, and add a creamy rich consistency to the smoothie.

And finally, honey is a another extraordinary substance – raw honey has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties that astound me. As a sweet alternative to sugar, I think honey cannot be beat. I keep lots of different types of honey in my fridge, but by far my favourite is Leatherwood honey, only found in Tasmania. Its almost medicinal, powerfully honey tasting honey. And sweet enough that you only need a little bit. If you are vegan, agave syrup is a great alternative, and healthy too. Or even a splash of fruit juice.

So, a smoothie for makan today. Delicious, healthy and satisfying. I think I might have a smoothie day every week just to give myself a little rest from all this eating. Whats next? Raspberries and …

For 1 smoothie you will need:

  • 3 small ripe frozen bananas (or 1 regular)
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 – 3 tbsp low fat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low fat or fat free milk
  • 1 tsp honey or to taste

In a blender, or small bowl if you are using an immersion blender, combine the banana (chopped), blueberries, yogurt and milk. Pulse to combine. Taste. Add a little honey for sweetness and depth of flavour. Pulse gently again.

Pour into a large glass, and sip slowly, quietly thanking the universe for her bounty.

Frozen Chocolate Dipped Bananas

17 Jul

Little Chocolate Banana Babies Waiting for the FreezerTonight, a short recipe. I was going to make Welsh Rarebit (inspired by an article on things on toast – burnt cheese is my weakness) but I realised that Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian (it has anchovies in it – will have to do some research on that one). Also, I had the pleasure of going to see the last night of Junji Delfino’s Here I Am celebration – what a voice!

Anyway… came home a bit tired, and thought I need something simple, comforting, with shades of my childhood.

When I was little, a huge treat for my sister and I were frozen bananas dipped in chocolate. Anyone can make these, and they are DELICIOUS! The bananas seem to freeze and turn into a heavenly natural version of ice cream – the chocolate just adds a rich delicious topping to the whole thing. And bananas seem to love the freezer more than other fruits. They adapt so well to freezing, one would imagine its their natural state! A little chocolate ganache from yesterday, a few pisang mas (the tiny golden sweet bananas here in Malaysia – from my organic delivery!) and a little freezer action. Oh so good.

The chocolate becomes this crunchy shell, and the banana within is creamydreamy.

This is a wonderful recipe to make with young ones – they feel so accomplished afterwards, and its quite healthy too! In my book, chocolate is a health food ­čśŤ

Use any good chocolate – white, milk, dark. I prefer it dark because there is such a lovely contrast to the pale frozen banana. They seem to complement each other. And once youve done this once, you will want to do it again. You can experiment. Add a teaspoon of honey to your chocolate mix. Or may be a sprinkle of cinnamon. How about melting down peanut butter chips? Banana and peanut butter, mmmm. Go nuts. Its fun!

You will need:

  • Baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper
  • As many ripe bananas as you want to freeze (I would do at least 6, because once you try these, they are addictive!)
  • A few squares of chocolate for each banana
  • A teaspoon of milk or cream for each banana
  • Some plastic wrap or greaseproof paper to cover
  • A few toothpicks

In a saucepan, over low heat, melt the chocolate into the milk or cream. Dont let it boil over, but as soon as you see the chocolate starting to melt take off heat and stir well. The residual heat will melt the chocolate. Leave to cool a little. If the mixture becomes too stiff, just heat it up a little again.

Meanwhile, peel the bananas. Depending on the skill of your helpers, and the desired level of mess in your kitchen, either lay the bananas on the baking tin and spoon chocolate over (less messy) or dip and roll the bananas in the chocolate and transfer onto the baking tin (rather messy). I often ask my young helpers to peel the bananas and drop them in the saucepan of chocolate, and roll the bananas around with a batter spreader or other blunt cooking instrument to make sure they are covered completely in chocolate. I then go in with two toothpicks, skewer each end of a banana and reverently transfer it onto the baking tin.

You could dip or sprinkle ground nuts, coloured sprinkles, or anything else you like that adheres well to chocolate.

These dont have to be perfect – the beauty is in their imperfection. I get geram looking at all these beautiful and different little chocolate banana babies lined up in a row waiting to be eaten!

You could stick toothpicks on one end of the banana to help in the eating afterwards, but I rarely do. I quite enjoy mess, and feel safer that there is nothing sharp in the banana that could harm little mouths.

Freeze for at least half an hour or so. If youre concerned about mess, wrap half of each banana in greaseproof paper once its frozen and hand out.

Eat greedily and with joy and sharing and mutual accomplishment ­čśë

Banana White Chocolate Bread Pudding

12 Jul

Banana White Chocolate Bread PuddingI was supposed to go out to dinner tonight to see an old friend’s Mum. However, I think I twisted my back in the excitement of the World Cup finals! So panadiene it was, and I was in no fit mood to drive. After a little nap, I decided I needed to try and cook something comforting, soothing, and nurturing. So I looked in the fridge, and on the counter (new organic delivery today!) and pieced together this bread pudding. Oh my, YUM! So good. So simple, and very quick to make. Just the thing for making a sore back go away. Heh.

Just a note. I literally used what I had in the fridge. It worked out really well. If you have dont have port wine, for example, you could substitute it with a little wine or liqueur or some juice. If you dont have bread, but only croissants, go ahead and use them! Dark chocolate, and no white? Substitute lah. This is a very forgiving recipe.

I baked this in a round cake tin. You could use 2 loaf tins, or a square tin if you like. Serve with sour cream on top for a really lovely contrast.

  • 12 slices bread (white or brown), toasted
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp + 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 5 very ripe bananas
  • Couple tablespoons port wine
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups milk – I didnt have enough! So I used 1 cup milk, and into the measuring cup, I put 2 tbsp light sour cream and 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk. I made up to 2 cups with a bit of water and mixed all together. If you do have enough milk, and decide to use just that, then make sure to add 3 tsp sugar to the recipe (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup white chocolate chunks
  • A little brown sugar for topping

First of all, toast your bread in the toaster. This will dry out the bread, and also caramelise it (thats what the brown is – the sugars in the bread caramelising) and will add tons of flavour. Leave to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large non stick pan over medium heat. Once the butter is sizzling, sprinkle 2 tbsp dark brown sugar over the butter. Dont mix, but just let the sugar melt into the butter. Slice the bananas over this and let cook for a few minutes. Using a spatula, gently flip the bananas over, and add the teaspoon of vanilla and port wine. Let the bananas cook for about 3 – 5 minutes in this gorgeous sauce, and then take off the heat and let cool to lukewarm.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk (see note above), sugar if you are using, salt and tablespoon of vanilla. Gently mix in the cooled banana with all its juices. Tear the bread into chunks and add to the bowl, and mix well. Add the white chocolate chunks and stir to combine thoroughly.

Let this mixture sit for at least 10 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 180C. You want almost no liquid left and the bread to have soaked it all up. Butter a 9 inch cake pan, and pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, sprinkling a little brown sugar over the top 5 – 10 minutes before the cooking time is over. You will know its read when its risen and puffy, and there is no more liquid when you pierce the bread pudding with a knife.

Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Serve warm with a little sweetened sour cream on top. Soul comfort food.

Banana Cake

1 Jul

This cake is soooooooo good! Its got such a beautiful banana taste, light, fluffy, perfect crust. It does not bake up high, so if you are going to stuff it with salted caramel, make sure you make two layers. You wont be able to slice in half lengthwise because of the tenderness of this cake, and the gentleness of the crumb, so dont try!

If you are serving this as a dessert for a nice dinner, it would be perfect iced with a cream cheese and vanilla frosting (beaten with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar), or stuffed with salted caramel. However, if its for an afternoon tea, or just because… it needs no embellishment. Its beautiful and light, satisfying and happy making!

My Toh used to eat pisang mas (the tiny gold banana common here in Malaysia) and so, in memory of him, that is one of my favourite fruits. I look for it everywhere, and was so thrilled when my wonderful organic delivery guy had them. I used pisang mas for this recipe, but please feel free to use any very ripe (even black) sweet banana.

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 175┬░F. Lightly butter two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides; dust pans with flour.

In a small bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Mash bananas well and measure – we used about 8 or 9 small pisang mas. Mix bananas with buttermilk and vanilla and set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until blended well, and light. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Add dry ingredients alternately with banana in 3 – 4 additions, beating for a few seconds until just blended. Let rest for a few minutes.

Divide equally between the cake pans, and bake, one at a time for approximately 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs attached.

Let cake cool on a cake rack, in the cake pan, for about 10 minutes, and then turn out and allow to cool completely.

Ice (or stuff) with salted caramel, and sprinkle with a little bit of Maldon.

Try not to eat before the guests come – unlike me (as you can see from the picture!)