Breakfast banana pancakes

My friend Wren introduced me to these which are surprisingly good and easy and healthy.

banana pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 4 eggs
  • cinammon

Method

Mash bananas, beat eggs, mix all ingredients together.

Fry as one would a normal pancake. They will go brown on each side.

Serve

You can serve these so many ways. If the banana is properly ripe, you certainly don’t need any additional sweetening ingredient. If you ask me, maple syrup would be overkill.

I served them with drained yoghurt to which I’d added some apple juice. Any sort of fruit can be added on top. Today strawberries because they are so cheap right now: Italian, 4CHF/kg and quite nice at that price. But you do get what you pay for. The 9CHF for 500g strawberries from Provence are 4 times as good!

For the future: I wondered about separating the whites and whipping them stiff before folding them in, with the intention of making these lighter. I’m curious to see how that turns out.

Reminder: I made a complete hash out of turning these. Hence the strategically placed yoghurt.

 

5 minute Japanesy soup noodles

This was so nice at a moment’s notice, from the cupboard.

Ingredients

  • water
  • tamari (or Japanese soy sauce of choice)
  • sesame oil
  • stock cube (I used vegetarian chicken)
  • rice vinegar
  • chili oil
  • noodles, I used udon
  • green vegetables, I used broccoli and asparagus, stems of asparagus cut into about 1.5″ lengths and longwise into about quarters
  • spring onions chopped into fine rounds, though in retrospect these were unnecessary

 

Method

Bring water to boil, add all ingredients except noodles. Cook for a couple of minutes, don’t overcook the vegetables. Quantities are to taste. As usual with this sort of thing, err on the side of not enough to begin with and adjust.

If using soft udon noodles, put in boiling water to separate, do this gently so you don’t break them. Place in bowls and add the stock and vegetables. Garnish with spring onions if desired. If using other noodles, cook as indicated by the type.

Tailor this to your cupboard, but I really felt like it was the chili oil that added a special touch.

Belinda Jeffery’s absolutely scrumptious pork pie

absolutely scrumptious pork, thyme and apple pie Belinda Jeffery

aka her family’s ‘Christmas pie’ which is when I make it too

Serves 6-8.

ingredients

  • shortcrust pastry (she makes her own, I buy it)
  • 500g pork mince
  • 2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 180g bacon, rind removed, cut fairly finely
  • 3 teasp finely chopped thyme or oregano
  • 2 tblesp finely chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • nutmeg or ground mace to taste (try 1/4 teasp)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 small eggs, hard-boiled and peeled (I use quail)
  • milk to brush the pastry top (she uses an egg yolk and water)

to serve:

  • red cabbage or beetroot pickle
  • tomato or apricot chutney

method

  • Preheat oven to 200C and lightly butter a 24cm springform cake tin. Put aside.
  • Mix the filling ingredients except for the small eggs.
  • Line the tin with pastry, leaving a 2 cm overhang. Half-fill tin with mixture and smooth it out. Make 4 little hollows in which the eggs go. Cover with the remaining filling.
  • Dampen the edges of the pastry overhang, add a pastry lid and pinch edges together tightly to seal. Crimp and trim the edges as you please.
  • Brush the top with the milk or eggwash. Prick holes into the top to allow steam to escape. You can embellish the top with left over pastry trim in shapes to taste if you haven’t already eaten it.
  • Put the pie on an oven tray and bake for 15 minutes. Lower temperature to 180C and cook for another 50 minutes. Belinda’s advice is that ‘If the juices bubble up in the final stages of cooking, just mop them up with paper towel and return the pie to the oven to dry out for a few minutes.’ When cooked, leave out to cook in the tin and then chill, preferably overnight.

To serve: run a blunt knife around the edges of the tin to loosen the pie, then release and remove the sides of the tin. Sit on a platter or board in thick slices with the pickles and/or chutney.

It keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Zucchini fritters

The recipe is from No Recipes, an odd name, if you ask me, for a recipe website. There Marc calls it Fluffy zucchini pancakes. To me fritters feels like a more Australian name for these. They are fabulous.

Ingredients

  • 3 large eggs
  • bit less than 100g or 3/4 cup plain flour
  • half a teasp baking powder
  • salt and pepper
  • grated zucchini, he suggests 350g
  • gruyere cheese 100g
  • spring onion thinly sliced
  • sour cream for serving
  • oil or ghee for frying

Method

Mix the dry ingredients, add the zucchini and cheese. Beat the eggs and mix in. Non-stick pan add oil and when hot add the batter in spoonfuls, flatten. Should make about eight altogether.

Fry until golden brown, turn and remove when cooked.

Serve 

I used two eggs and a strong cheddar instead of gruyere. Instead of sour cream, I served them with drained yoghurt mixed with a little olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Totally fab. I’m starting to think it’s impossible to go wrong with pancakes. And such an easy quick meal.

I’m wondering about trying this with besan flour instead. Will report on that.

 

 

 

Sauce for roast duck

I discuss how I cook duck breast here.

While that is happening, make the sauce:

Ingredients

  • Shallot
  • Garlic
  • Grapeseed oil (or cooking fat of your preference)
  • 2 teasps Dijon mustard
  • 2 teasps honey
  • 2 teasps Thai chilli paste
  • Several glugs of Swedish punsch

Method

Finely chop and then gently fry the shallot and garlic in the oil in a small saucepan. When softened, pour in a generous quantity of the punsch, increase heat to boiling and burn off the alcohol content. Turn down to low and stir in the mustard, honey and chilli paste. On a low heat this will reduce to a thick sauce while the duck is cooking.

My aim was to end up with something sweet – as complements duck so well – but with a little kick.

Serve

With mash, to which I added a little of the rendered duck fat and milk. I served the sauce on the side.

Notes

This is one of those recipes you alter according to what is on hand. I wanted something sweet by way of alcohol, hence the punsch that was in the fridge, but otherwise I would have used a combination of sake and mirin.

I happened to have Dijon mustard, but any mustard would do, I’m sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti with anchovies, pinenuts and raisins

This is a dish born from a need to cook without leaving the house. It will be obvious that it welcomes variation. We loved it and will be sure to make it again soon. The initial inspiration came from reading a post acmilan did on The English Forum (Switzerland) where he shared his recipe for Margherita con l’anciova. The combination of anchovies, tomato paste, pine nuts and raisins got my mouth watering.

Ingredients for sauce for two:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped fairly finely
  • 1 heaped tblsp tomato paste
  • 1 tblsp pine nuts
  • 1 tblsp dried sultanas (or similar)
  • olive oil
  • anchovies to taste, I used about 5
  • chopped fresh spinach
  • a little sugar

To serve: grated parmesan

Method:

While waiting for the water to boil for the spaghetti, heat a large pan (I use a wok) with the olive oil and gently fry the onion. When softened add the anchovies and break up as you stir. Add the pine nuts and sultanas, stir. Next, the tomato paste and some water. Mix thoroughly and turn heat up. When at a simmer, add sugar, erring on the side of not enough, mix, taste and add more if desired. Last, in goes the spinach. Bring back to a simmer, stir, and leave to sit on a low heat, stirring from time to time while the spaghetti is cooking. I leave this quite thick, as….

When the spaghetti is cooked, spoon it into the sauce. Some cooking water will transfer as you do this, loosening the sauce. Thoroughly mix and decide if you need to add more of the cooking water.

Serve with the grated parmesan.

 

Asparagus gratin

I daresay these days asparagus is perpetually on tap from somewhere or another. In Geneva it’ll come from South America in the offseason.

I’d rather wait. Seasonal produce is special! One of the things you can look forward to hereabouts on about the first day of April is local asparagus. Local in Geneva terms means Swiss, or maybe Italian, and certainly there will be supplies from Provence. Always the most expensive and always irresistible.

 

Asparagus gratin (3)
Asparagus gratin

Ingredients

asparagus: 500g or so*
300 ml milk
25g butter
25g flour
salt and pepper
grated nutmeg
75g cheese, grated**

*what sort of asparagus? I like green. I imagine that the white can’t be as good for you for a start. As to fat vs thin, I like both. I can’t help thinking it is quality not type that matters. By all means disagree, I’d love to have the finer points of asparagus explained to me.

**what sort of cheese? It depends where I am and what’s available. I’ve sometimes used Epicure for the sauce and parmesan on top in Australia. In Geneva, gruyere is the obvious candidate. Fontina is a great melting cheese.

On mature reflection it could be that a mild cheese lets the asparagus have more of a say. Maybe if it isn’t good asparagus you want to do something to shut it up. Maybe that’s where Epicure comes into it.

Method

While the oven is heating to 220C:

Snap the ends off the asparagus. They will break at just the right place to be able to discard the woody part. You may want to lightly peel the stems with a potato peeler. I do sometimes, but mostly it doesn’t seem necessary to me. Steam them in a bamboo steamer for a couple of minutes. You might want to put cold water over them at that point to prevent them overcooking.

Make the cheese sauce: on medium heat melt the butter, add the flour and stir well mixed, then add milk. I do this a bit at a time, thoroughly mixing to avoid lumps as I go along. I have sometimes done it my mother’s way and put all the milk in at the same time and then mixed vigorously as it comes to the boil. I can’t say this is my forte in the kitchen, basically I get lumps sometimes and I have never figured out why. I always think I’m doing it the same way as the last time.

Let it come to the boil and then lower the heat, all the while whisking. It will have thickened during this process. Take off the heat, add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in 50g of the cheese.

Grease an oven dish, lie the asparagus down and then top with the cheese sauce. Add the remaining cheese and also some breadcrumbs if you like. About 5-10 minutes, depending on your oven. It’s an easy decision, it’ll look nicely brown on top and that is the cue you need for the denouement.

Take the dish to the table. Ooohs and aaahs. Thoroughly deserved in my view.

Asparagus gratin (1)
Asparagus gratin