Saturday, July 26, 2014

Banana muffins with walnut topping

Whenever bananas are cheap and plentiful in our house they often end up ripening faster than we can eat them. I retire the spotted, squishy suspects to the freezer where they await resurrection in one form or another. Here is the latest use I made of them, based on Bill Granger's melt and mix banana bread, tweaked by replacing sour cream with low fat Greek yoghurt, almonds with walnuts and presenting in muffin form.

Banana muffins with walnut topping
Makes 16
45g brown sugar
80g walnuts, chopped
255ml low-fat Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g butter, melted
200g caster sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
250g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
250g mashed banana (about 2 medium bananas)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line two standard muffin tins with paper cases. In a bowl, mix together the brown sugar and walnuts and set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the yoghurt and bicarbonate of soda, leave to stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the melted butter, caster sugar and eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into another bowl. Gradually fold in the yoghurt mixture, followed by the mashed bananas.
Spoon mixture evenly into prepared tins and sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a muffin near the centre of the tin comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the tins for about 5 minutes, then remove muffins and place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On being nuts and the Condiment That Must Not Be Named

I have an embarrassing confession. I am a lover of condiments but I absolutely, positively loathe mayonnaise (and its Italian cousin, aioli). I have for as long as I can remember. Even writing those words makes me cringe. The sight of it turns my stomach. It also has a way of finding me wherever I go (even south-east Asia). Such is my phobia that my long-suffering partner (husband, now, actually, but more on that later) can attest to the number of times he has asked, when ordering a vegetarian sandwich, burger or salad on my behalf, "does it contain mayonnaise?". This is often met with an obliging "no, but we can put some on it for you" to which he has to reply (with frantic waving of his hands) "no, no—please no, she doesn't eat it/is allergic/cannot stand it—I am just making sure it isn't on it". If the desired meal does contain the offending condiment, asking for it to be removed is a risky business. I would estimate that out of the times I have ordered food without mayonnaise, one out of three of those dishes were found upon closer inspection to contain it anyway. We create what we fear.

However, the thing about sauces in the "M" category is that they do add a new dimension of flavour, creaminess and moisture that can really complete a meal, so alternatives must be sought. The solution lies in nuts and seeds. I have previously posted about my love for Nut Roasters, a local store that is what its name says and so much more. They recently linked from their Facebook page to an excellent article by Claire Claire Adas that: (1) makes me feel less crazy for having a mayonnaise phobia and more importantly, (2) contains several tempting recipes for similar condiments made with nuts. I can't wait to try them!