Banana Bread

Banana Bread

Photography by Darren Bester

Another childhood favourite that has stayed with me is Banana Bread.  I can quite easily eat an entire loaf by myself (I don’t, it must be said … but I would , if I could get away with it on the scale and if it wouldn’t scare my husband quite as much as I think it would).  Besides being delicious, its also just so comforting and I wonder if its because it subconsciously conjures up carefree feelings from childhood.  This recipe is so quick and easy that its surprising that the loaf is as delicious as it is. 

Yield: 1 Loaf 

Ingredients:

375ml ripe bananas, mashed 

250ml white sugar 

375ml cake flour 

1tsp baking powder

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

60ml vegetable oil 

125ml crème fraîche 

2 eggs, whisked 

pinch of salt

Method: 

Preheat the oven to bake at 180ºc.  Grease a 23 x 13 cm banana loaf tin with butter or ‘spray & cook’ and set aside.  Mix the bananas, sugar, crème fraîche, eggs and oil until well combined.  Sift all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.  Gradually stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture, until combined.  Pour mixture into prepared baking tin and bake at 180 for 40 minutes to an hour.  Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean, the loaf is ready. 

Cooks Note: Cooking time can vary depending on your oven and its settings.  Best to start keeping an eye on it from the 40 minute mark.  If you don’t have a baking skewer, an uncooked piece of dry spaghetti will do the job just fine.   You could add walnuts or poppy seeds for a nice variation.

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Poached Perfection!

Poached Perfection!

Photography by Darren Bester

 

Have you watched the movie Run Away Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Where she likes her eggs however her boyfriend at the time likes his… I would do a lot of things for love, but I would not compromise how I like my eggs …! 2 soft poached eggs please and don’t be shy with the Hollandaise Sauce!

Last week, I gave you my top tips on frying the perfect sunny side up egg. This week, we look at tips on poaching to perfection! Poaching the perfect egg can be daunting but if you follow these guidelines, you should be plating up poached eggs to be proud of:-

 

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  • Fresh eggs are a non negotiable! Even if you follow all the other steps but your eggs are not fresh, your end result will be disappointing
  • Ideally, eggs should be room temperature
  • Use a deep large pot
  • For every litre of water, add 15ml vinegar (aim for close on 2 litres of water if possible). The vinegar helps the white of the egg to set. Lack of vinegar will result in your egg not shaping nicely so it is a vital ingredient
  • Bring the water to the boil and then add your vinegar
  • Drop the heat to a gentle simmer
  • Stir in a circular motion inside your pot to create a whirlpool
  • Crack your egg and gently drop from the centre of the pot into the whirlpool
  • Set a timer for ± 2 minutes (for soft poached)
  • Leave the egg alone – do not be tempted to touch it
  • When the timer go’s off, remove your little beauty with a slotted spoon and if not serving immediately, carefully place in a bowl of cold water (this will stop the cooking process)
  • If serving immediately, trim the egg white by cutting off any stragglers and season with salt & pepper
  • Never add the salt to your pot during the cooking process –this breaks down egg proteins
  • If you placed your eggs in cold water and you are now ready to plate up – all you need to do is gently place your poached eggs in hot salted water for 30 seconds to heat through, drain with a slotted spoon, trim the egg white, season and enjoy!
  • Note: You can poach your egg a few hours in advance and leave in cold water in the fridge until required – this helps eliminate pressure & ensures everyone can have breakfast at the same time 🙂

 

Mastering Scrambled Eggs…

Mastering Scrambled Eggs…

Who doesn’t fancy fluffy and light scrambled eggs with a slice of toast and some bacon in the morning?  It is so easy to overcook scrambled eggs, resulting in the eggs losing colour, turning brown, becoming dry or even watery.  The trick is to whisk enough air into your eggs prior to cooking and then once on the heat, it should take no more than a minute to a minute and a half to cook through.  Remember, the eggs will continue to cook even when off the pan – so always take off the heat while it still looks moist because by the time it is served, it would have cooked through.

Here are my top tips for the perfect scrambled eggs:

  • Ensure your eggs are fresh
  • Eggs should be at room temperature to ensure even cooking
  • Have your non stick pan, heat resistant spatula, whisk, eggs, butter, oil, salt & pepper at the ready – Avoid having to focus on other tasks while busy with your eggs (so get the bacon and toast out the way and leave your eggs for last)
  • In a clean bowl, add your eggs ( I used 6 the other day for Andrew & I – *blush* & it was a satisfying amount)
  • For every egg, add 15ml of cream (you can substitute this for milk but it will impact on the creamy flavour)
  • Whisk well to combine
  • Put the pan on a very low heat, add equal amounts of oil and butter, coat the pan and pour out the excess oil / butter
  • Add your egg mixture and allow to cook without interference for up to 30 seconds
  • Add salt & pepper at this stage
  • Using a spatula, gently push the egg from the sides of the pan to the centre of the pan, tilting the pan as you go to allow the liquid egg to run to the sides of the pan and then repeat the process until no liquid egg remains
  • Continue to gently turn the eggs until the egg mixture becomes firm.  Do not break up the egg curds with your spatula – you want to maintain large curds of eggs rather than small curds
  • Transfer to your serving plate and enjoy !

 

 

An Easter Brunch to Remember …

An Easter Brunch to Remember …

Photography by Darren Bester

 

On Sunday I joined forces with the very talented and creative people behind The Sweetest ThingsDarren Bester Photography and Pop! Events, to bring you our Easter inspired Breakfast Brunch Table!

The Sweetest Things lived up to it’s name by providing a decadent carrot cake with cream cheese icing complete with a spun sugar topping! Melt in your mouth Meringues and chocolate ganache tarts in a biscuit base topped with fresh raspberries – talk about decadent! And a big thank you for my doggy bag 😉

Pop! Events provided all the beautifully made paper decorations you see in the photographs, from the expertly laser cut place settings, to the festive cut out white bunnies, the cutlery & napkin holders, to the food description cards eloquently placed on pegs. Having recently hired Pop! Events services for a very special Baby Shower I hosted, I can vouch for their professionalism and ability to make things happen at very short notice.

Of course, no styled table is worth its weight in ‘style’ if you don’t have Darren Bester Photography there to snap up some gorgeous pictures and capture the moment! Thankfully for us, Darren is becoming more and more passionate about food photography, which is creating many an opportunity for us to work together. Choosing the photographs to use on this blog post has left me salivating as all the images are droolicious!

brunch-collage

So what did I bring to this party? My favourite breakfast of all times of course …the one, the only, Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict!!! Yummy Decadent soft poached eggs on a bed of smoked salmon a top an English toasted muffin, drenched in Hollandaise Sauce (possibly the most indulgent sauce of all times) and garnished with chives.   I’m not going to go into how devastating it was to watch the others tuck in after the shoot, whilst me and my pregnant belly had to settle for an English muffin with cream cheese … the memory is too painful. Nor am I going to tell you about how ever since Sunday, all I can think about is Eggs Benedict … No, I will not waste your time with the list of all my favourite foods that I cannot enjoy now, whilst pregnant.   Instead, I will quietly remind myself that in just 5 short months our bambino will arrive and after meeting him for the first time, Hubby will be off on a Sushi run and then returning the following morning again, to the hospital with eggs Benedict! Yes… only 5 more months … I can do this!

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The long Easter weekend is upon us, I hope we have inspired you with our Easter Brunch Table and hope that you will lay your own … if you would like to serve up Salmon Eggs Benedict for your nearest and dearest … here is the recipe and if you find me knocking at your door, just as the Benedict’s are served, DO NOT open the door!

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict 

Yield: 4

Ingredients:

4 English Muffins cut in half and toasted

100g Smoked Salmon

4 Eggs Softly Poached

250 grms Unsalted Butter

5 Egg Yolks

10 ml White Wine Vinegar

Fresh Lemon Juice (just a squeeze or 2)

Salt & Pepper

Chopped Chives for Garnishing

Method:

To clarify your butter, place the 250grm block of butter in a pot and put on a very low heat – allow to melt completely and the ‘foam’ to rise to the top. Once it seems that no more foam is rising to the top, you can switch off the heat (give it about 20 minutes). Use a spoon to scoop up and discard as much of the foam as possible. Then line a sieve with a piece of muslin cloth and gently pour the butter mixture through the muslin cloth sieve and into a clean bowl. (If you don’t have muslin cloth you can use a simple coffee filter paper instead – just to trap all the milk solids behind. If you don’t have a coffee filter paper, then use the finest sieve you can find to strain the butter mixture).

Set the clarified butter aside for a few minutes and poach your eggs according to the cooking tips provided here and set aside until required.

Right so your eggs have been poached and are resting in cold water, quickly toast your English muffins and place on each plate.

Time to make the hollandaise sauce, once you get started with this, you cannot pause in between – Bring about 500ml of water to a gentle simmer in a small pot. In a separate heat proof bowl such as stainless steel or glass, whisk your egg yolks quickly, adding the 10ml vinegar and pinch of salt, add 2 Tbsp of the hot water from the pot to the egg mixture and whisk for a further 15 seconds or so, now place this egg mixture bowl over the pot with the simmering water in it (water level must not be able to reach the egg mixture bowl) and whisk continuously until the egg mixture forms ribbon stage (meaning that when you lift the whisk over the mixture the batter should fall slowly, forming a ribbon that will hold it’s shape for a fewseconds. The colour of the mixture would have also lightened once ribbon stage has been reached). To prevent scrambling your eggs, lift it from time to time off the heat, while you continue to whisk awaiting ribbon stage. Remove from the heat and slowly drizzle by drizzle add your clarified butter, the whole time stirring with your whisk as you add it. You might not require all the clarified butter, you need to taste as you go along, I would say once you have added just over half the amount of butter, add the squeeze or 2 of lemon juice and another pinch of salt and then taste, add more butter if necessary and adjust the seasoning until you are happy with the flavour.

Time to plate up – gently place your poached eggs in hot salted water for 30 seconds to heat through, and then drain.

On top of each muffin slice, place a generous amount of salmon, top with a poached egg, spoon Hollandaise Sauce over the top and garnish with chopped chives. Place the other half of the muffin alongside the dressed one (Or perhaps double up on the eggs and Salmon quantities listed under ingredients so that each person receives 2 poached eggs & salmon for both sides of the English Muffin).

Notes: You clarify your butter to get rid of the milk solids and moisture content found in butter. For this sauce we want the flavour of butter but not the oiliness that usually comes with it. Clarifying the butter enables this. Another reason one would clarify butter is it allows you to cook with it over a higher heat or for an extended period of time. Leftover clarified butter can keep, in a well sealed glass container for a few weeks.

Wet a dishcloth and place it on your work counter, then place your bowl on top of it. The damp dish cloth creates a steady work surface, allowing you to free up the hand that would be keeping your bowl in place, which you can then use to pour the clarified butter in slowly while continuing to whisk. If the flat cloth does not seem to steady it, then twirl your dish cloth and place it down in a circular form, and nestle your bowl on top of this ‘nest’. 

This is not a traditional Hollandaise Sauce recipe – you will note some small discrepancies but it tastes the exact same and is less the fuss ! 

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Frying the Perfect ‘Sunny Side Up’ Egg

Frying the Perfect ‘Sunny Side Up’ Egg

 

In that moment, when a perfectly fried egg is placed before you, there is nothing better… the outside world seems to fade away and for the next 5 minutes (or less) it’s just you and that egg …

or is that just me? *blush*

My absolute worst is when I order my eggs sunny side up or soft poach and hard overcooked eggs are delivered to my table 🙁   Its a non negotiable for me – I’m not one of those diners who enjoys sending food back to the kitchen but I make an exception with eggs… if it’s not done to my liking, it’s going back – Sorry! I do pre-warn the waiter when ordering, by saying “if my eggs arrive hard, I’m sending them back!” I say this with an angelic smile on my face, to soften the threat I have just delivered and Hubby usually stirs uneasily in the chair opposite me and sometimes makes a bad joke to lighten the mood.

There are certain things a chef has to get right, and eggs are one of them. You might know that often, when a chef applies for a new job, he or she is asked to cook eggs 5 ways – they say a good chef, should be able to make a perfect egg!

When it comes down to it, frying the perfect egg does not require great skill – rather, knowledge, preparation, fresh eggs, quality equipment and concentration …

Here are my top tips for frying the perfect sunny side up egg …

  • Ensure your eggs are fresh (the stronger proteins in a fresh egg delivers a firmer shape)
  • Eggs should be at room temperature (otherwise you risk overcooking the yolk while waiting for the white to congeal)
  • Have your pan, egg lifter, eggs, butter, oil, salt & pepper, serving plate at the ready – Avoid having to focus on other tasks while frying your eggs (so get the bacon and toast out the way and leave your eggs for last as timing is crucial)
  • Put the pan on a very low heat, add equal amounts of oil and butter, coat the pan and pour out the excess oil / butter (you don’t need a lot otherwise you end up with greasy eggs)
  • Gently crack your eggs into the pan – your fingers should actually connect with the bottom of the pan for a split second as you pull the shells away. This ensures that the eggs are as close to the base of the pan as possible when connecting – creating a gentle ‘landing’
  • Allow to cook gently at this low heat, it will take a little longer but you won’t end up with brown crispy edges and the egg will cook evenly
  • Do not salt your egg until near the end of your cooking time – Salt breaks down the protein in eggs & we don’t want to do this because we want to maintain a firm shape
  • Gently tilt the pan and slide the eggs onto your plate with the assistance of an egg lifter
  • Season with salt & pepper

And enjoy the indulgent 5 minutes ahead of you !