Banana Bread Madness

After a fun filled weekend, I thought baking something yummy would be the perfect way to start the new week. I was right- the banana bread treat definitely made Monday more bearable.

This weekend saw a trip to Clip and Climb which is a fun (rather than traditional) indoor rock climbing centre. Sooo… it might look easy, but it was terrifying! I couldn’t let the kids beat me though- my competitive side kicked in, and I had to climb higher and faster than they could. Ooops!

After climbing for an hour and a half, we went out for dinner with friends. We booked this amazing train carriage burger restaurant- Easey’s. If you’re ever in Melbourne, this place is worth a visit! They’re converted some old Melbourne trains into a diner, and put the carriages four storey’s high for a brilliant view. To top it off, for dessert you can order milkshake donuts!! I just can’t wait to go back for more.

11380172_1053764881301216_804992600_nEasey's Collingwood 2

Now I’m sure you can understand after such a fun filled weekend, it was super hard  to leave my cozy warm bed this morning for the rainy day outside.

Here’ s the banana bread recipe which managed to cheer me up:

Ingredients

Plain flour- 1 cup
self-raising flour – 1/2 cup
brown sugar 1 cup
cinnamon – 1 tsp, ground
butter- 125g melted, cooled
eggs – 2 , whisked
bananas – 3 ripe , mashed

banana- 1 extra for the top

Method

1) Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a loaf pan.

2) Combine the flours, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Whisk butter and eggs together in a separate bowl and add to the flour mixture. Stir in the banana.

3) Spoon into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface. Slice the spare banana length way and lay on top of the mixture.

4) Bake for 45-50 mins or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the pan for 10 mins before turning out onto a wire rack.

Notes:

– This is best served slightly toasted in a sandwich press with some nice salty butter

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Tofu & Eggplant Curry

wanted to wait until I had some extra time. I’ve been super busy lately and I am pleased to say I have finally changed my name after getting married (the wedding was six months ago tomorrow so I have been a little slack). It wasn’t as easy as I thought, as most places require you to visit them to change it and they’re usually only open during working hours when I’m also working. But I’ve managed to squeeze places in around my work hours where possible 🙂 .

Akash and I have been cooking very simple meals lately to save time, but I finally have some free time on my hands so tonight I decided to give tofu and eggplant curry a whiz. It actually didn’t take that long- but because it was something new I wanted to wait until I wasn’t in a rush.  It turned out surprisingly well, as I as afraid the eggplant would take much longer to cook than the recipe required but it turned out perfect.

I just love Keens curry powder, so I decided to use this for the curry powder. It reminds me of the curried sausages my mum made when I was a kid, and curried egg sandwiches- delish!  For me, Keens makes a dish ‘Aussie’. Bringing back old memories 🙂 .

Ingredients

Tofu- Firm, 400g
Vegetable oil- 4 tbsp
Onion- 1, chopeed
Ginger- 1 tsp minced
Garlic- 3 tsp, minced
Curry powder- 3 tbsp (I used Keens but any mild one would work well)
Eggplant- 2 medium, chopped into small chunks
Coconut milk- 360ml
Salt- 1 tsp

Method

1) Place tofu in a dish with something heavy on top to drain any excess water to prevent the tofu from crumbling. Leave for 10 minutes, then chop into cubes.

2) Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry until golden brown. This should take about 8-10 minutes. Put this aside.

3) Add the remaining oil and fry the onion for about 2 minutes, before adding the ginger and garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes. Next, add the curry powder and fry for 3 minutes, before adding the coconut milk. Bring to the boil.

4) Add the eggplant, cover and reduce heat. Cook this for 5 minutes, or until nice and tender.

5) Add the tofu and salt, and cook for a further 3 minutes.

6) Turn the heat off, and leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

– This is best served with rice

Indian Cabbage Fry

It’s that time of the year again when I leave for work in the dark, and come home in the dark. I’m very lucky at work as we have recently had a new office built especially for us, and it is designed with glass walls all around, including in the kitchen, so I get a great dose of vitamin D. When I get home though, it feels much later than it really is and all I feel like doing is lounging around. I love cooking with a passion, but weeknight meals really need to be nice and quick. Complicated meals are left for the weekends.

This cabbage fry is a recipe I got from Akash, and only takes about 40 minutes to make. I love how creative and full of flavour Indian recipes are. As a kid, I hated vegetables and looking back, I think it might have has something to do with how boring they were. Simply steamed, and that was it. Now, I love my veggies which I’ve made quite obvious from my blog (most of my recipes are vegetarian) 🙂 . I still eat non vegetarian meals, but I do prefer the different flavours you can create with vegetables.
Ingredients

Cabbage- 1/2
Onion- 1 medium, chopped
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Asafetida (hing)- a pinch
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Amchoor/ Mango powder -1 tsp (can use a squeeze of lemon instead
Peas – 1 cup, frozen
Oil- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste

Method

1) Slice the cabbage into fine strips, and rinse.

2) Heat oil in a large pan, and once hot add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and asafetida. Fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the mustard seeds start to pop. Next, add the onion and let this fry for another 2-3 minutes, stirring.

3) Add coriander powder, turmeric and red chilli powder and stir for a few seconds.

4) Add the cabbage to the pan. It will be difficult to stir at this point, so cover the pan for about 5 minutes so the cabbage softens a little. There is no need to add extra water, as the cabbage will cook in it’s own steam.

5) When you can see the cabbage is softened, add salt and stir the cabbage so it mixes with the spices. Cover the pan again, and let it cook for 10 minutes. You will need to stir the cabbage every few minutes to make sure the spices are evenly spread.

6) Add the peas and let cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the peas are tender. Continue to stir every couple of minutes.

7) Once the peas are tender and you can see the cabbage is cooked, add the mango powder (or lemon juice) to the pan and let cook for 3-4 more minutes. Turn off the heat and the cabbage fry is ready.

Notes:

– This is best served with pita, naan or roti as opposed to rice as it is a dry curry.

The Sweetest Lassi

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I’ve decided to make a come back with this wonderful weekend refresher- a sweet lassi.

Dad purchased a magic bullet this weekend, so I decided to test it out by making a lassi. The lassi turned out wonderful, but I’m sure it would have been just as amazing with any other blender or mixer. The men in my family have a thing with gadgets- they’re fascinated by them. I remember coming home from work one day last year, and Akash told me he had purchased a the soup maker pro, and we actually still haven’t used it. So this time I decided to use the magic bullet before it ended up at the back of the cupboard, unused and dusty.

I also wanted to make a lassi before winter really hits. It’s been so cold in the mornings, there’s been ice on my windscreen. Today was actually really nice though, and I think it will be one of the last nice days for a while. The lassi only took about 10 minutes in total to make.

Ingredients

Natural yogurt- 2 cups
Water or milk – 2 cups
Sugar- 10 tbsp sugar (or sugar alternative)
Cardamom pods- 8-10
Saffron strands- a few

Method

1) With a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods. Remove the shell, and continue to crush the seeds until you’re left with a fine powder.

2) Put 2 cups of fresh yogurt in a blender and mix until smooth. Next, add the sugar into the blender.

3) Add the 2 cups of milk or water to the blender and mix. I personally prefer milk. If you want a thicker lassi, you can half the amount of liquid. Keep mixing until the sugar dissolves and you can see froth. Then add in the cardamom powder along with the saffron and mix briefly.

4) The lassi is ready to serve.

Notes:

– You can make the lassi in advance and leave it in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Mac’ N’ Cheese

Last night we had a pot luck party- it so much fun!! A friend had a marriage ceremony in India last week, but we couldn’t attend so we decided to hold a small dinner party. We all got dressed up in our ethnic wear which I absolutely adore – I love lehengas, bindis and bangles to the core! They’re not the most comfortable thing to wear, but I find Indian outfits so super pretty. I very rarely get a chance to wear the clothes I’ve brought back to Australia so I was super excited about the party. What better way to celebrate an Indian wedding we couldn’t attend?!

Back to the food- most of the time I cook Indian food (as you may have noticed 😛 ) but we thought our friends might be in need of some Western food on their return . So for the potluck, I decided to make a macaroni cheese (a.k.a Marco Pierre’s basic macaroni cheese). Here in Australia at the moment, there’s a little bit of a Masterchef craze. Marco Pierre cooked a very fancy macaroni cheese on one of the episodes, so I decided to try his basic recipe of this. It was a lot easier than I expected and it turned out really well.

Here is the recipe I tried out:
Ingredients

1.1L Béchamel sauce 

Butter- 50g
Flour 50g
Milk- semi-skimmed milk, 1.2 l
Stock cube- Vegetable, 1

Macaroni- 500 g
Cheddar cheese- Grated, 2 handfuls
Stock cube- Vegetable, 1
Eggs- 6 –8
Parsley- 1 bunch, to garnish

Method

Béchamel sauce

1) Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based saucepan.
2) Using the wooden spoon, stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring continuously.
3) Gradually stir in 3/4 of the milk, a little at a time, until the paste becomes a liquid.
4) Replace your spoon with a silicone balloon whisk (so you don’t scratch your saucepan), then stir through your final quarter of milk. Whisk through the stock cubes.
5) Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 8-10 minutes. Finally, to remove any lumps, strain the sauce through a fine sieve to produce a smooth velvety texture.
6) Melt in the grated cheese. You can use as much (or as little) cheese as you like but I like 2 handfuls.

Macaroni
7) Bring a large pan of water for the pasta to a rapid boil. Dissolve a stock cube into it to season the water. Add a little olive oil to stop the macaroni sticking.
8) Drain the macaroni. Season. Put it back in the pan, then mix the pasta and cheese sauce together. Transfer to a serving dish and top with the soft-boiled eggs. Drizzle a little olive oil over each egg and season with some sea salt and a grind of black pepper. Garnish with parsley.

Eggs

9) Soft boil one egg per person so they’re still runny inside. Carefully remove them from their shells.

Notes
– This is really nice served with some garlic bread
– You can double the recipe of the Béchamel sauce and use it another day to save some time in another dish

Aloo Methi (Potato with Fenugreek Leaves)

I’ve only realised since I’ve started this blog how much I love potatoes. I’ve never paid attention to how much I cook them, but they’re so delicious and versatile. Tonight I’ve decided to cook aloo methi which I had never actually tried preparing myself, although I’m in love with my mother in laws version.

This actually turned out really well and was so simple to make. The fenugreek (methi) has so many health benefits such as helping to reduce cholesterol, helping control blood sugar and aiding digestion. This will be a dish I make again on a day I have little time to spare.
Ingredients

Potatoes- 4 medium
Oil- 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds (jeera) – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida (hing)- 1/8 tsp
Turmeric- 1/4 tsp
Coriander- 1 tbsp
Fenugreek leaves- fresh, 2 cups chopped or dry, 1/2 cup fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi- can b bought at Indian stores)
Salt- 1 tsp
Red chilli powder- 1/4 tsp
Mango powder(amchoor) – 1/2 tsp (can use a squeeze of lemon instead)

Method

1) Peel, wash and cut the potatoes in small cubes.
2) Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.
3) When the cumin seeds crack, add asafetida and stir for few seconds. Next, add the potatoes, stir and add turmeric, coriander powder, red chili powder, salt and fenugreek leaves. Mix well and cover the saucepan.
4) Turn down heat to medium. Let cook until potatoes are tender and cooked well. This should take about 15 minutes. Make sure to stir a few times in between.
5) If potatoes appear too dry, add one or two tablespoons of water.
6) Once potatoes are cooked well, add the mango powder (or lemon juice) and mix it well. Turn off the heat.

Notes

I like this best served with roti, naan or paratha

Egg curry mixture for sandwiches

Another week of work coming up! It’s amazing how fast the weekend flies- I feel like Friday just ended! Akash and I are trying to save for a house deposit now our weddings are over. Yep, that was plural- we had one wedding in India and another here in Australia. One of the sacrifices we are making in trying to save is preparing lunches at home rather than buying them at work, the majority of the time that is. Sometimes we take leftovers but it can get so boring eating the same thing for dinner and then lunch the next day.

I like to organise lunches the night before work, and lately we’ve been getting bored of our classic ham and cheese sandwiches. This week I’ve decided to make an old family favourite- curried egg sandwiches. I find sandwiches are so easy to take on the go and are really quick to make. Here is my favourite recipe for curried egg mixture:

Makes enough for 4 sandwiches

Ingredients

Eggs- 4 hard-boiled & peeled
Mayonnaise- 1/4 cup
Curry powder- 2 tsp mild (I like Keens)
Parsley- 2 tbsp chopped (Optional)
Bread- 8 slices
Salt & pepper- to taste

Method

1) Mash eggs with mayonnaise and curry powder using a fork, then stir in parsley and season to taste.
2) Spread the egg mixture on the bread and sandwich two slices of bread together

Note:
– You can use light or full fat mayonnaise but the full fat is tastier
– You can add some lettuce to the sandwich for some extra greens