Banana Bread – Sunshine from the Caribbean

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101 sleeps to go, and by some miracle I have not yet cracked out Love Actually.

Christmas for me is the best time of year.  Unlike birthdays which seem to involve an increasing element of self assessment (and the usual second guessing of whether people want a fuss or not), Christmas is no holds barred fun, excitement and celebration.

Getting married the week before Christmas was therefore an easy choice, but wanting to be home for the 25th led to a pre wedding holiday in place of a classic longer honeymoon.  In a lot of ways this was an inspired choice. The only issue with this master plan I hadn’t foreseen was afternoon tea, every day for two weeks after my final dress fitting.  If you have tasted this place’s banana bread this #firstworldproblem takes on a whole new weighting.  Slightly heavier than a normal, but not by much, and just the right balance of cinnamon to give it a kick.  The chef was kind enough to write down the recipe for me when we were going home – I tweaked it slightly (a little more banana, raising agent and the addition of a chocolate nut topping) but it really does’t need much messing with, and these little cubes of sunshine are delicious at any time of year (or indeed, time of day).  S

Recipe: (Makes 8 large bars, or 16 squares)

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4 oz unsalted butter
4 oz sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
3/4 cup pureed banana

Method:

Preheat the oven to 170°C (160°C fan)

Step one: Cream the butter (4 oz) and sugar (4 oz) until light and fluffy

Step two: Add the cinnamon (1 tsp), vanilla (1 tsp), eggs (2), self raising flour (5 oz) and mix until combined

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Step three: Fold in the 3/4 cup of pureed banana and add milk

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Step four: Bake for 45 minutes (I used a 23cm square tin)

Step five: When cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts

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The Best Guacamole – Courtesy of the Hairy Bikers

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Guacamole is a massive favourite of mine – with tortilla chips, with chilli, on ryvita, on its own… you get the picture.  The problem is finding the right one.  The Hairy Bikers’ “real guacamole” recipe is the best I have found.  I use a little less onion and a touch more lime but apart from that follow it almost to the letter.  Pics below, you can view the original recipe here.  S

Recipe (makes three bowls):

6 avocados
8 chillies (half red half green)
1 red onion
1 large bunch of coriander
4 medium sized tomatoes
2 limes

Method:

Step one: Pulse the onion and chillies gently in a food processor (or chop very finely by hand).  Add into a bowl with the chopped avocado and tomatoes

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Step two: Mix together with a pestle, adding the lime juice and coriander to loosen.  Set aside with the avocado stone in the bowl to prevent from browning.

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