Cheesy Apologies

It’s been a busy month. I just wanted to apologise for not posting anything here in a long time.  So for anyone who was worried I’d fallen into an abyss/been hit by a bus/cycled into by distracted hipsters, here is a short update on what I’ve been doing instead of blogging.

I’ve been working on a new project, here in London, all centred around cheese! I met a guy who wanted to start a new business selling, grilling and promoting British artisan cheeses. I learn’t a little bit about cheese making while I was at SAF so I really interested in getting involved. Who wouldn’t wanna work with delicious cheeses? For the past two months we’ve been talking ideas and refining menu items. We spent one day trialling grilled cheese recipes the other week (imagine  eating grilled cheese sandwiches for an entire day!) we’ve also been out meeting potential suppliers including the amazing charcuterie of Black Hand Food in Hackney Wick.  To start with we’re going to be going around London selling a range of grilled cheese sandwiches. We had our first outing as ‘The Cheese Truck’ last Sunday at Maltby Street market in Bermondsey. It was great fun and it’s just the start, we’ll be there again next Sunday too if you fancy a melty treat.

I promise though that new baking-related posts will be coming to this blog shortly, man cannot live by cheese alone.

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Grilling sandwiches at Maltby Street Market

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Hams curing at Black Hand Food. Thanks to Hugo for showing us around his palace of meat.

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Our flagship Cheddar, Ogleshield and onion sandwich

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New Year, Old Bananas

One thing you should know about me is that I hate wasting food. No matter how insignificant the portion I really hate throwing food away. This is fine with me as I actually really enjoy cooking with leftovers. When I returned to London this week, after being home with my family for Christmas, I came back to my kitchen to find that one of my house mates had a pair of bananas in the ‘fruit bowl’ (a wicker basket that serves also as a bread bin and for some reason is home to our garlic).

old bananas

 As you can see in this picture they were pretty darn  old. Luckily there are loads of delicious things you can  bake with overripe bananas. However, a second thing  you should know about me is that there is only one  food on this Earth that I do not enjoy the taste  of…bananas. Which left me in a dilemma: unnecessarily throw away food or face my culinary nemesis. 

 Of course in the end the desire to bake won. This then left me racking my brains, cookbooks and the internet trying to decide what to do with the things. Banana cream pies, banana and passion fruit tarts, banoffee everything, the list is endless. I narrowed it down to one of two banana bread recipes: Dan Lepard’s brilliant Butterscotch Banana Cake from Short & Sweet or a rich, chocolate banana loaf like my Mum used to bake.  A third thing you should know about me is that I am not great at making decisions. So why pick one recipe when I could make both and mix the two together! The banana marble loaf was born.

If you’ve got old bananas knocking about I can’t think of a better way to use them up. This is a seriously moist cake great for a tea-time treat or a desert with a dollop of yoghurt and some berries.

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House mate approved!

Butterscotch & chocolate marbled banana bread

Makes 1 900g/2lb loaf

 Butterscotch bananas 

125g overripe bananas (approx 1), mashed

75g caster sugar25ml water

1 tsp vanilla extract

10g butter

Basic wet batter

175g melted butter, cooled

3 eggs

50g plain yogurt

Pinch of salt

100g caster sugar

Banana batter

135g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Chocolate batter

125g overripe banana (approx 1), mashed

90g dark chocolate

2 tbsp cocoa powder

80g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

Start off by making the banana butterscotch. Put the sugar and water into a pan and boil, on a high heat, until you get a red-brown caramel. Then add the butter, mashed banana and vanilla extract. Turn the heat down and simmer until the banana has broken down. Tip onto a plate and allow to cool.

Preheat your oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas 4 and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with greaseproof baking paper.

Beat together to ingredients for the basic wet batter until smooth and slightly aerated. Split the mixture equally between two bowls.

To one half of the wet batter add the cooled butterscotch. Sift in the plain flour baking powder and bicarb and fold until smooth.

Melt the chocolate gently in a bain marie or in short bursts in a microwave. Once cooled slightly beat the chocolate into the second half of the batter along with the remaining mashed banana. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarb and fold it all together until smooth.

Now the fun part; spoon alternate dollops of each batter into the prepared tin. You should be able to do this in two layers so you have a rough chequerboard of butterscotch and chocolate in the bottom half of the tin and another in the top half. With a skewer, chopstick, spoon handle etc. Make brief strokes through the batter to create the marble effect. Don’t go too crazy though or you’ll overmix the two batters and end up with more of a mud than a marble.

Bake, in the middle of the oven, for 55-65 minutes until the cake is risen and firm to the touch. Test with a clean skewer, if the skewer comes out clean then remove from the oven, if not bake for another 5 minutes. Leave in the tin to cool for 10-15 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack.

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Happy New Year!

Just a short post to wish you all a happy new year! If you were partying on Tuesday night I hope you’re feeling a little bit more human by now. Sadly I was working new year’s eve so will have to delay my festivities for another time.

Keep your eyes peeled and try to hold off on your new year’s diet for a little longer as the first recipe of 2014 (still feels weird to say) will be coming soon! Just as soon as I get a day off to bake it.