“Colours of the world
Spice up your life
Every boy and every girl
Spice up your life
People of the world
Spice up your life
‘Spice up your Life’ (1997), by the Spice Girls
There are some dishes I find myself making over and over again. They never change and they don’t need to change. My shepherd’s pie, for example, was the same the last time I made it, as it was the first time. It is an old favourite, nothing fancy but all homeliness and it will probably never change. If something ain’t broke, don’t break it.
And yet there are other recipes which are always changing. I say ‘recipes’ but I suppose I mean the ‘processes’ rather than a specified set of instructions.
My spag bol is an ever-evolving animal, as is my fish pie, macaroni cheese, Scotch broth, tuna pasta bake and minestrone. In recent times, I don’t think I’ve ever done one of these exactly the same way twice and that of course means my experiments vary in terms of success. Sometimes the bar is raised and sometimes, I end up swearing more than I eat.
Still, that’s one of the things I love about cooking: The chance to create new recipes and new variations of a dish I’ve never tried before. This also goes some way to explaining why my fridge is coming down with pastes, mustards sauces and condiments and why the food cupboard is packed full of spices, grains, herbs, vinegars, seeds and oils. Variety is the spice of life!
The downside to having so many weird and wonderful ingredients is that it’s quite often difficult to find individual jars in jar city – like looking for a piece of hay in a haystack.
There is another recipe though, which is constantly evolving for me: Banana bread. And, like the others, I think that will ever be so. I think, in terms of the banana bread at least, it’s because I’m always trying to add new ingredients from walnuts to chocolate chips to raspberry jam (the latter being one of the swearing occasions).
Check out the picture of that bad boy bread with the banana slice running down the middle. That was an afternoon delight one day last week when I had three bananas erupt is a cacophony of freckles. Whilst I like bananas, I don’t like eating them when the freckles are out and so they are invariable given the bread treatment.
Last week too, being out of chocolate chips and walnuts and not wanting another raspberry disaster, I decided to try adding a few extras: Peanut butter and cinnamon. The result, I am happy to report, was a glorious affair, perfect slathered with butter and a steaming coffee. No swearing this time – oh, no – only oohs and ahhs.
Also, I make no apologies for the extra butter.
140g of caster sugar
100g of butter (soft)
150g of smooth peanut butter (Whole Earth FTW!)
3 freckly bananas
1 tsp of vanilla extract
150g of self-raising flour
100g of wholemeal flour
half a tsp of ground cinnamon
Set the oven to pre-heating (160C) and as that’s happening, line a 2lb loaf tin with baking paper.
Next, dump the butter and caster sugar into a big bowl and cream. When pale and well-mixed, beat in the eggs one at a time.
Peel all bananas and slice one in half, retaining one half for the top of the bread (as in the picture).
Mash the two and a half bananas and add these to the sugary buttery mix along with the vanilla and peanut butter.
Dump the two flours and the cinnamon into the bowl and mix through gently.
Scrape out into the lined loaf tin, flatten out with the back of a spoon and then place the last banana half on top and press down gently.
Sprinkle with a little extra sugar and then retire the tin to the oven and let the magic happen.
Give it 50 mins of uninterrupted baking and then check it’s done with the skewer test (if when inserted the skewer comes out clean, it’s done). If it’s not done, give it another five mins and check again.
As you can see from the photo, this bread is excellent cold and buttered. I might have imagined it, but I think it was even better the day after it was baked.
Viva la evolución!
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