Updated: May 23
Sweet treat banana and chocolate cake/loaf/bread
The whole way through lockdown I resisted making the obligatory banana cake. I just didn’t seem to have any ripe bananas hanging about the kitchen. But here’s one of my favourite banana cakes with spices and chocolate that I made this weekend for friends. This is a gluten free vegetarian recipe with vegan options
You’ll need a loaf tin - 900g will do, if you don’t have one then use an 8 inch cake tin but to be honest it doesn’t matter if it’s round, square or rectangular this is a full proof recipe. I generally use a silicone mould as it takes out the faff of lining the tin and comes out a treat.
Loaf tin or other, greased and lined if required - see above
Pre heat oven to 180c
4 small bananas, mashed + 1 for decorating
150g gluten free plain flour (usual plain flour is fine just use 250g and leave out the rice flour)
100g rice flour
100g dark muscovado
50g soft light brown sugar
75g butter melted, vegan butter works well too
2 eggs, large (you can substitute with flaxseed egg or psyllium egg both work a treat)
150 g chocolate drops (I use Callebaut 70-30-38 - vegan)
2 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
Squeeze of juice from half a fresh lemon
Put the mashed bananas in a bowl together with the sugar, eggs and melted butter, whisk with an electric hand whisk until everything has come together. Then add the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda and with a spatula fold into the banana mix. Light hand here - let’s keep the air in the mixture. Finally add the chocolate drops and gently fold the ingredients together.
Pour the batter into the prepared tin/mould before cutting the 5th banana into diagonal slices. Put the banana pieces into a small bowl and squeeze half a lemon over them. The idea is to coat the banana with the lemon so it doesn’t go brown. Once done, decorate the top of your cake with the banana slices.
Put the cake into the preheated oven and bake for 60 mins or until a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely before cutting into slices. This cake should yield about 8 - 10 slices. Store in an air tight container for up to 5 days - just saying. Enjoy!
It’s all about the sides for me during the summer. I like lots of choice and small plates so I thought I’d share a couple of side dishes with you. Perfect to go with your barbecues once the sunshine has settled in.
Aubergine with miso + tamari glaze
I make my glaze up in advance and keep it in a small glass jar for when I need it. The glaze will last about a month in the fridge in a sealed jar.
For the aubergines - I use baby aubergines (halved) when available or large aubergines sliced. I usually allocate half a large aubergine or two baby aubergine per guest if it’s for a main meal. It all depends on how hungry folks are.
Preheat oven at 180c
2tbsp dry sake ( I use Ozeki Sake)
3tbs tamari (gf) or soy
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp white miso
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Pinch or two of black sesame seeds, to garnish.
Olive oil - 3 tbsp
Put all the above main ingredients into a small pan and bring to the boil, stir constantly to allow your glaze to cook and thicken. Once thickened take off the heat and leave to cool before transferring to a small jar if using later.
Either slice the baby aubergines in half or thickly slice the large aubergines on the diagonal, about 15 mm in depth. Put either into a large bowl and drizzle the aubergines with olive oil, give them a stir to make sure all the aubergines have oil on them.
Get a baking sheet and cover with parchment or foil, lay the aubergines on top (cut size up if using baby aubergines) and pop into a preheated oven for 15 minutes. At this point, remove the aubergines from the oven and liberally spoon the glaze over the aubergines before putting them back into the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, they should be looking slightly crispy in places when cooked.
Serve sprinkled with black sesame seeds. These go well with a tempeh salad, fish, tofu curry, barbecues and lots more. Be imaginative.
Asparagus has a short season, far too short for me but I’ve found ways to keep using asparagus for as long as possible. That includes chopping and freezing it for risottos and roasts after the season has finished. Here is a side recipe that I use most of the way through the season but boy good early season asparagus barely needs blanching. So, I suggest you keep the nutrients in and dip it in butter, garlic oil, a little salt or topped with a poached egg, sprinkled with parsley and Parmesan.
Roast chilli, garlic and ginger asparagus.
Preheated oven to 180c
1 large clove of garlic, chopped finely
1/2 red chilli, sliced lengthwise and thinly chopped
3 cm piece of ginger, peeled, sliced lengthwise and chopped into thin batons
1 large bunch of asparagus, snapped before slicing into three with the end sliced in half lengthwise (as per photo)
Olive oil to drizzle
Sea salt, pinch
Prepare all the above ingredients before adding them to a ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt. Put the dish in the oven to roast the asparagus for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and turn the ingredients in the dish, pop it back into the oven for another 4 to 5 minutes until al dente (don’t over cook). Serve hot or cold with other sides. Enough for two.