Guilt-free Banana Bread

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GUILT-FREE BANANA BREAD | Relish guiltlessly in this moist loaf made without butter

I totally have a soft spot for moist, delicious banana bread. However, I noticed my waistline thinks otherwise so I’ve been meticulous with this treat (read: trying to not make it a daily routine everytime I walk past the coffee shop on the way to work).

To this I have found a remedy. The satisfaction of baking your own banana bread from scratch – without butter – is a therapy in and of itself. From the mashing action of the overripe bananas, to the mixing of the wet and dry ingredients, and of course, the smell of the loaf oozing from your oven – words don’t do justice to describe the satisfaction derived from the overall process. And because I’ve come up with a recipe that does away with the butter, you can enjoy this moist loaf without the associated guilt factor.

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Guilt-free Banana Bread

PREP TIME: 20 mins | BAKING TIME: 40 mins | TOTAL TIME: 60 mins | YIELDS: 8-9 slices

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 overripe bananas, mashed
  • 115 g of yoghurt (Greek or natural)
  • 60 ml maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut / brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • icing sugar, to dustYoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0239

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Grease a loaf pan.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0272
  2. Mash bananas.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0245.jpgYoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0246
  3. Beat eggs. Fold in the mashed bananas, yoghurt, maple syrup and coconut sugar. Mix thoroughly. Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0250Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0258Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0262
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the flour with the salt and baking powder.
  5. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and fold till well combined.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0265.jpg
  6. Pour batter into loaf and put into the oven for 40 minutes or so. Test with an inserted toothpick: if it comes out clean then the loaf is ready.Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0286Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0290
  7. Remove loaf from tin and let cool. Slice into 1.5 cm slices. Dust with icing sugar before serving. To store for later, banana bread can be kept frozen. Feel free to toast the banana bread in your toaster before serving. Enjoy!Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0324Yoghurt Maple Banana Bread-0332

 

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Heavenly Scrambled Eggs with Dill and Creme Fraiche

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THE PERFECT SCRAMBLE | Divinely creamy yet as light as the breath of an angel.

My latest obsession is scrambled eggs. How to perfect them and make the most glorious, creamiest and heavenly eggs unparalleled to any other you have eaten before.

If you have a hard time finding creme fraiche, you can substitute it with sour creme. To achieve that heavenly creamy texture, the key is to ‘fold’ the eggs and to not overcook the delicate soft curds. This can be simply achieved by turning  the heat setting to as low as possible while harnessing what has often become a rarified trait called “patience”.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-15-of-17

Heavenly Scrambled Eggs with Dill and Creme Fraiche

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon butter, diced (ice cold)
  • bunch of fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 slices of rustic bread or sourdough, toasted, to serve.
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper, to taste.

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METHOD:

  1. Break eggs into a bowl and beat gently.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-2-of-17
  2. Chop the fresh dill and add into the egg mixture.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-3-of-17
  3. Add tablespoon of creme fraiche.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-4-of-17
  4. Heat pan on low heat, and add butter. Using a spatula, stir the eggs frequently as they begin to slowly cook. Should take no longer than 4-5 minutes or so.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-5-of-17creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-6-of-17creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-7-of-17
  5. Toast sourdough bread (or substitute) as eggs are cooking. Ladle the eggs on top of the toast while it is still not fully cooked yet (as eggs still cooked when removed from the stove).creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-10-of-17
  6. Add black truffle paste if you want a more gourmet experience.creme-fraiche-scrambled-eggs-with-dill-16-of-17

 

Pan-seared Citrus Soy Chicken Salad

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CITRUSY SOY CHICKEN | An Asian-inspired salad with a rich, caramelised orange flavour

For those who want an Asian touch to their chicken salads, you can’t go wrong with this citrus soy chicken thigh recipe (nb: feel free to use breast if that is what you prefer). Boasting with a rich, dark, and caramelised citrus flavour, this chicken recipe works well when sliced over fresh greens to make a chicken salad, or simply enjoy it with classic sides such as haricot verts and roasted potatoes.

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Given how hot it was today though, I decided to opt for a light summer salad so picked up some fresh romaine lettuce and a huge Californian avocado.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0790

Pan-seared Citrus Soy Chicken Salad

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PREP TIME: 20 min | COOK TIME: 10 min | TOTAL TIME: 30 min | YIELDS: 1-2 servings 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken thighs (skin-off)
  • 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon of ginger, grated
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 handful/bunch of romaine or cos lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper and sea salt flakes, to season

METHOD:

  1. Wash romaine lettuce and chop to roughly 1 inch thick.Citrus soy chicken salad-0724
  2. Juice the orange.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0736
  3. Grate the ginger till you yield roughly 1/2 tablespoon.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0754
  4. Combine the ginger, citrus juice, soy sauce, in a medium bowl. Soak the chicken thighs in the marinade and set aside for 20 minutes. Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0751
  5. Heat cast iron pan on the stovetop on medium-high heat. Wait until the oil starts to shimmer. Using a pair of tongs, place the chicken thighs on the pan and fry for 4 minutes each side until a golden colour forms.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0760Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0774
  6. As the chicken is searing, prepare the salad. Toss the olive oil with the balsamic and season with some black pepper and salt.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0789
  7. Once chicken is done, remove the thighs to a chopping board. Slice into 1cm strips.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0784Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0787
  8. Transfer the salad leaves to a clean plate. Place the sliced chicken thigh on top of the salad leaves. Place the sliced avocados on top or on the side. Serve while warm.Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0817Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0808-2Grilled citrus soy chicken salad-0834.jpg

Grilled Octopus Arugula Salad

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Good octopus is hard to find. Hence why I choose to procure mine from Spain nowadays. I bought mine precooked and vacuum-packed, saving me a lot of hassle (and time). They come ready to slice into a cold seafood salad, to warm by slipping the package into a pan of boiling water or to sear briefly in a heavy pan or on the grill with a slather of sauce.

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The pressing question then becomes, what to make out of these tender tentacles? Seeing the weather is warming up, I opted for a simple grilled octopus arugula salad.

Grilled Octopus Arugula Salad

INGREDIENTS:

  • 330g octopus salad
  • 2 cups of arugula
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lime
  • Black pepper, kosher salt, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons of Pukara’s lime flavoured extra virgin olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Take tentacles out of vacuum sealed pack and wash. Slice octopus diagonally into 2 cm bite-size pieces.Grilled octopus arugula salad-1008
  2. Slice and dice the tomatoes.Grilled octopus arugula salad-1021
  3. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat and add dash of olive oil.Grilled octopus arugula salad-1014
  4. Once hot, throw in the chopped tentacles. As the octopus sears, crack some black pepper and salt to the pan. Squeeze the juice from half a lime too for that extra kick. Sear for roughly 3 minutes in total till you get the lovely golden char marks.Grilled octopus arugula salad-1023Grilled octopus arugula salad-1041
  5. Meanwhile, toss together the arugula and diced tomatoes with two tablespoons of Pukara’s lime flavoured extra virgin olive oil. Crack some black pepper and salt. Grilled octopus arugula salad-1028Grilled octopus arugula salad-1029
  6. On a clean plate, layer the mixed arugula tomato salad. Add the perfectly seared octopus tentacles on top. Drizzle some more lime juice. Garnish with a wedge of lime to serve.Grilled octopus arugula salad-1061Grilled octopus arugula salad-1062

Grilled leeks with hazelnut brown butter

 

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LEEKS IN BEURRE NOISETTE | Who would have thought leeks could taste so incredible?

I don’t eat leeks often but having returned from Singapore recently earlier this year, I was inspired by the critically acclaimed restaurant Burnt Ends (nb: book early) to recreate their signature leek dish with browned butter and hazelnuts.

First, let’s delve into a little short history about this amazing vegetable that belongs in the Allium family.

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Leeks have been cultivated since the time of the Ancient Egyptians and were probably part of the diet of those who built the pyramids. Hippocrates the ancient Greek physician and ‘father of medicine’ prescribed the leek as a cure for nosebleeds.

The Romans considered the leek a superior vegetable and Emperor Nero got through so many he gained the nickname Porophagus (leek eater); he is reported to have thought that eating leeks would improve his singing voice!

The leek is also associated with the Welsh Saint David. During the Middle Ages when Saint David was alive the leek was seen as a healthy and virtuous plant. Extraordinary qualities were claimed for it. It was the original health food, high in fibre, good for purging the blood, keeping colds at bay and healing wounds.

The leek also acquired mystical virtues. For single young ladies curious to foretell the future ‘man of their dreams’, mystic belief has it that girls who sleep with leeks under their pillow on St David’s Day would see their future husband in their dreams.

What’s more, the humble leek is also mentioned in the Bible. The book of Numbers records how after leaving Egypt, the children of Israel missed a range of foods including leeks.

The leek in Hebrew is called Karti, which is a pun on another Hebrew word yikartu meaning ‘to be cut off’. Thus the Jews eat leeks at Rosh Hashanah to symbolise a wish for their enemies ‘to be cut off’.

So enough about leek history. Let’s get down to recreating this simple yet beautifully eloquent dish that will surely impress your guests (well, it surely did blow them away at my last supper club).

Leeks with Beurre Noisette and Hazelnuts

PREP TIME: 10 mins | ACTIVE TIME: 10 mins | TOTAL TIME: 20 mins | SERVES: 3  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 leeks, washed
  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts (roughly about 10)
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • Pinch of premium sea salt flakes or gourmet salt of your liking (I used Pukara’s smoked salt with olives here to add the last delicate ‘kick’ in flavor).Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (21 of 21)

METHOD:

  1. Wash leeks and trim stems.Slice each leek in half. If long, cut the leeks in half horizontally. Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (4 of 21)
  2. Heat a griddle (I used a cast iron griddle pan) on high. Brush oil with a high smoke point (grapeseed perhaps) onto the pan. Once smoking, throw the leeks onto the pan and grill for 4 minutes each side till the gorgeous grilled char marks form.  Sprinkle some salt as you grill the leeks.Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (15 of 21)
  3. Lightly crush the hazelnuts in a mortar and pestle (or feel free to leave them in their entirety).Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (14 of 21)
  4. In the meantime, as the leeks are cooking, heat another small pan on medium-low heat. Melt the butter and add the crushed hazelnuts (optional to slightly crush them in a mortar and pestle or leave them in their entirety).Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (11 of 21)
  5. Once the butter turns a caramelised brown, turn off the heat (roughly 8-10 minutes). Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (12 of 21)
  6. By now both your leeks and beurre noisette should be done. Dish the leeks up and arrange uniformly on a cleaned plate. Immediately, pour the browned butter with hazelnuts on top. For the finishing touch, sprinkle with a touch of gourmet salt (I used Pukara’s smoked salt with olives). Serve whilst warm.Leeks with Hazelnut Browned Butter (2 of 21)

 

Truffled Scrambled Eggs

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TRUFFLED-UP SCRAMBLED EGGS | Soft heavenly ricotta-like texture with a touch of gourmet.

Crazy about eggs? Especially those creamy and soft scrambled eggs that slip off your spoon into your mouth?

The secret here is cooking the eggs low and slow — low heat, plus plenty of time for soft eggy curds to gradually form.

Yes, I know patience may not jive well with a busy morning weekday schedule before work but trust me, 10-15 minutes is worth your time once you taste the sensation of these eggs. If I am going to make scramble eggs, this is how I will do them. No compromise.

What’s the trick? Simply cook the eggs in a regular saute pan over the lowest heat you can manage on your stove. Please resist the temptation to nudge the dial up. As the eggs start to cook, stir occasionally to mix the cooked eggs on bottom with the still-runny eggs on top, and let the eggs form into billowy curds at their own pace.

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Ingredients:

TIME: 10 mins | YIELDS: one 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of black truffle paste
  • Chopped green onions or chives for garnish
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Turn stove on lowest heat setting. Heat pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. In meantime, lightly beat eggs in a bowl with a dash of salt and pepper. truffled-scrambled-eggs-1-of-6
  3. Pour whisked eggs into pan and gently fold continuously. truffled-scrambled-eggs-2-of-6
  4. Once egg forms set curds, add the teaspoon of black truffle paste.truffled-scrambled-eggs-3-of-6
  5. Remove pan from stove and dish eggs onto a plate (remember, eggs still cook when removed from stove). Garnish with chopped spring onions or chives before serving.truffled-scrambled-eggs-4-of-6

Fluffy Wholewheat Buttermilk Scones

Buttermilk Scones (28 of 103)SCONE-MANIA | Wholewheat heavenly fluffy scones with a hint of orange zest

Whoever said scones couldn’t be fluffy while at the same time deliver on wholesomeness is wrong. In 20 minutes, you could have piping hot scones served with clotted cream and jam – perfect for unexpected guests.

I love scones. Whether they are homemade, from a coffee shop (ok, maybe not the ones from Asia), plain, or with fruits, I simply can’t resist a piping hot scone fresh from the oven served with clotted cream and jam. Serve this with a steaming cup of english breakfast or earl grey tea and there you have me: my way of solo therapy for a Sunday afternoon.Buttermilk Scones (14 of 103)

Don’t be deceived. Scones are not difficult to make. The ‘trick’ though (to keep the scones moist and fluffy) is to halve the flour portion equally between plain flour and wholewheat flour. Also, be careful not to over mix the dough with your hands and the butter and milk must be added whilst cold. Most importantly, when baking scones, make sure you place each one close to each other. This will yield a better ‘uplifting’ (i.e. rising) effect when the scones bake.

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The beauty of this basic wholewheat recipe is that you are free to add your own variations. I experimented with some orange peel (love the zesty citrusy touch) and sultanas, as well as playing up another variation using some chopped up dried figs from turkey.

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Fluffy Wholewheat Buttermilk Scones

TOTAL TIME: 20 min | YIELDS: 8 large scones 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1.5 cups self raising flour
  • 1.5 cups self raising wholewheat flour (NB: if you are using plain flour, add baking powder to the mix)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 60g butter
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or full-cream milk)
  • Grated zest of half an orange and half a cup of sultanas (optional)Buttermilk Scones (102 of 103)

METHOD:

  1. Preheat oven to 230C or 210C fan. Lightly grease and flour a baking tray. Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Buttermilk Scones (101 of 103)
  2. Chop butter into cubes and rub in the butter with our fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.Buttermilk Scones (100 of 103)
  3. Add nearly all the milk at once and mix in quickly with a knife. Add remaining milk if needed and pull dough together into a rough ball. Add the grated orange zest and sultanas (if using). Turn dough out on to a floured board and knead by turning and pressing with heel of hand 3 or 4 times. Buttermilk Scones (96 of 103)
  4. Pat out to a 2cm thick round and cut into 4cm rounds with a floured cutter. Gather scraps together, knead lightly and cut out.Buttermilk Scones (95 of 103)
  5. Place scones close together on a lightly greased baking tray. Brush tops with a little milk and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until well-risen and golden.Buttermilk Scones (94 of 103)
  6. Voila. Scones should turn out beautifully golden and sumptuous. Note: For soft scones, wrap in a tea towel as soon as they come from oven. For crusty scones, do not wrap, cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve warm with butter or with jam and cream.Buttermilk Scones (86 of 103)

Buttermilk Scones (78 of 103)Buttermilk Scones (2 of 2)