Monday, 30 July 2012

Banana and macadamia loaf

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It's been a while isn't it? It's been pretty chaotic around here with guests one after the other. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed my 3 weeks with the sister-in-law. I cant begin to say how much fun it was shopping, gossipping, bitching, partying, lunching and sightseeing. Ro was going mad with two girls sitting and bickering about anything and everything that at the end of 3 weeks he even knew a tad too much about the reality show on telly 'real housewives of OC and NYC.' :)

I have exactly one week of rest before my in-laws get here for another 3 weeks of non stop sightseeing. I am slightly sick of London in general and cant handle any more touristy things, lucky for me Ro is on leave for 2 weeks and he can do the needful, I hope. To add to it, the Olympics has created major chaos for us, especially because we are in the midst of it all- 2 venues within 10 minutes of where I live...sigh!

I haven't cooked anything major in the past 1 month and I don't intend to do so in the coming weeks as well. Having gained a couple of extra kg's (thanks to all the binge eating) I am on a crash diet and has to reduce all that extra weight asap. Summer clothes look hideous on me and sadly all that extra fat cannot be hidden under jackets, thanks to the amazing weather we've been having.
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I don't think I will be able to visit all your gorgeous blogs in the coming weeks, but I am trying to update mine with a couple of scheduled posts and reviews which should take care of matters for at least 3 weeks. In the mean time, here is a banana loaf from my drafts, which I made a month back and was a hit breakfast item.

I must admit, although I'm a big big fan of bananas, I have not liked any banana based bakes I've made at home. Muffins, breads, cakes, nothing hit the spot for me, maybe because the bananas we get here are quite tasteless, not sweet at all and once they are out of the oven, the weird worm-like strings is somehow a total put off. So I resort to buying amazing organic banana loaves from the grocery store and its perhaps one of the moistest and best banana breads I've had.

This time however, in spite of the bananas not being over ripe, I decided to purée it instead of mash it and voila, I got the desired taste and consistency- incredibly moist with no weird black strings and the nuts added that extra crunch. If you are not a fan of nuts, you can very well omit it.

Recipe adapted from here
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Plain flour- 200 gms
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Salt- 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg- a generous pinch
Butter- 140 gms, unsalted and melted
Granulated sugar- 200 gms
Eggs- 2 large
Vanilla extract- 1 tsp (optional)
Bananas- 3, peeled
Milk- 125ml
Macadamia nuts- 70 gms, roughly chopped
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Slice the bananas roughly and purée till you can no longer see any chunks. You should get a mix that is not too watery. Use milk, a tsp at a time, if you need to. I didn't need to use any.
In a large bowl whisk together the first four ingredients. Keep aside.
In another mixing bowl whisk together melted butter and sugar till well combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Pour in vanilla extract and mix it all together.
Add the puréed banana and whisk continuously till they are well incorporated into the mix.
Tip in the nuts and milk and fold gently, but till everything's mixed well.
Finally, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients bit by bit, whisking after each addition.
Pour into a loaf pan which is buttered and lined with baking paper and bake in an oven pre-heated at 160C for about 50 minutes to an hour or when a wooden skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Take the tin out of the oven and cool for about 10 minutes after which you tip the cake onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
You can then dust with some icing sugar, if required, or serve warm with a dollop of buttah. Its sinful!
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Notes: The original recipe called for self raising flour. If so just replace the flour with that.
There was also 1/2 cup of rum added to the wet ingredients. We are both not rum drinkers and so didn't have any at hand. However, brandy was an after thought and it was too late by then. If using rum, omit the milk and add that instead. I would do a glaze with it next time though :)
Use any kind of nuts- walnuts, cashew, hazel.
If you are not grossed out by the brown string like thingies from the banana, then fell free to just mash it up using a fork, instead of puréeing it. Puréeing however, made the cake super duper moist.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Bean and potato salad- A guest post for Shab's Cuisine

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If there is one blogger I can say I have a lot in common with, that is definitely Shabeena (Shabs as we fondly call her) of Shab's Cuisine. I cant remember how or when I stumbled upon her blog, but she was the first UK blogger I started following. It is a big deal because majority of the bloggers I follow are based out of the US or India, and disscovering that Shab was from this side of the pond was indeed something worth being excited about.

She has been blogging for many years now and somewhere along the way I discovered I had a lot in common with her. Thanks to Facebook, we send each other loooong messages regarding our blogs and have the longest chat sessions, that too at 11 and 12 at night. From endless discussions about prop shopping to charity store finds to ebay auctions to photography tips and new blog discoveries, the topics are forever flowing. Sales and deals at stores are immediately passed on and we make sure we check it out and get back with our inputs without fail. It's like shopping with your girlfriends, but virtually :)
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I recently did a birthday cake for a friend and I must say that I couldnt have done it without Shab's help. I used to keep calling her up each and every time I had a doubt about fondant, frosting etc. and she would be such a sweetheart and help me out whatsoever. It is indeed great knowing that I have a blogger friend just a phone call away to solve doubts and more importantly to sit and talk mindlessly about props and painting boards and photography, instead of forcing the husband to listen to blog issues. So I didnt think twice when Shab asked me about a guest post, because there was no way I was gonna pass. We decided on a salad and so here's an easy peacy summer recipe- a bean and potato salad, which is a favourite at ours.

We have picnics in the park during summer and deciding on what to take is always an issue especially because only some parks allow bbq's and they are almost always the ones that are far away, which makes us think twice about heading there in the first place. So food items that are super duper easy to pack and tastes good when eaten cold are given priority. Sandwiches and salads mostly win after all the discussion and this salad is my first choice always. It is so easy to put together and tastes so good, you would have to try hard to stop yourself from eating spoonfuls while preparing it. It is also a very forgiving reciipe and you can add more ingredients or adapt them to your liking without compromising on taste. It is great eaten warm or cold, so there is no issue there. When I make it at home, I usually pair it with some grilled chicken and its a perfect meal and quite filling, I must add.
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So without further ado, do head over to Shabs's Cuisine and check out the recipe and while you are there, dont miss out on her amazing array of Malabar dishes. She is a pro at it, and I hope some day I will be able to meet her in person and taste her food. Thanks a lot for having me over Shab :)