Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bananas, yellow, spotted and black

Just how often I end up with less than pretty bananas, I cannot think. Most weeks, I think.
But I haven't disposed of any of them. If I have no time, I freeze them, in the skin - it doesn't harm them.
Then when I need one for a recipe, 10 minutes out of the freezer I can peel and chop them.

There are any amount of recipes around using bananas as one of the ingredients, but the one I use most often is my own. It's the one Keith likes best too and takes no time to make.

Tropical Smoothie

2 small bananas or 1 large banana, spotty or black, never yellow or green.
1 thick slice of fresh pineapple, peeled, but not cored.
1/2 tin coconut milk
1 or 2 tsp smooth peanut butter
Water as necessary

Put the first 4 ingredients into a liquidiser and whizz. Add water to thin to a drinkable medium.
You can add ice cubes instead if you prefer and if your liquidiser is up to it!
If you have no fresh pineapple, use a tin of pineapple in its own juice instead and cut down on the water.

There are hundreds of banana bread recipes around, but the one that appeals to me and most of my friends, is this one: ( it has the advantage of being very easy - foolproof, even!)

American Banana Bread

8 oz plain flour (part wholemeal is excellent in this cake)
1 tsp bicarb. of soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
4 oz butter
6 oz caster sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbls milk
2 bananas, mashed (easier if they are black and squiggy)
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 eggs, beaten
Demerera sugar to finish

Grease a 9" x 5" loaf tin and put some liner/parchment paper in the bottom.
Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4. 180C/350F.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, salt, bicarb and cream of tartar. Cut the butter into the flour and rub in well. Mix in the caster sugar.
In a jug, mix the milk and the lemon juice. (The milk will curdle slightly).
In a small bowl, mix the mashed banana with the lemon rind. Stir in the milk mixture and the eggs.
Mix all the banana mixture into the sifted flour etc. and stir well to combine.
Scrape all into the prepared tin and smooth the top.
Sprinkle the top with demerera sugar, quite thickly.
Bake in the centre of the oven for 1 1/4 hours or until a metal skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to sit in the tin for 10 mins.
Turn out onto a cooling rack.

This tastes rather nice whilst it's still warm. It's not too sweet either, so if you need to get away from the saccharine sweet taste of Mr Kipling, et al, it's very moreish.

There is a classical savoury dish using chicken, which includes pieces of banana fritter. it costs quite a lot in good restaurants, so why not make your own one day when you're feeling adventurous.

It goes something like this:

Maryland chicken with banana fritters (c/o  Ready, Steady, Cook  - shamelessly nicked!)

For the chicken
1 chicken breast
50g/1¾oz flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 free-range egg, beaten
50g/1¾oz white breadcrumbs
25g/1oz unsalted butter
1 tomato sliced in half

For the banana fritters
100g/3½oz self-raising flour
1 free-range egg
½tsp baking powder
30ml/1fl oz milk
1 banana, diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter

1. For the chicken, dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, then dip it
into the egg to coat. Finally dip in the breadcrumbs to coat
2. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the
breadcrumbed chicken and the tomato and slowly fry for eight
minutes, turning once. Remove from the heat once the chicken is
cooked through.
3. To make the banana fritters, place the flour, egg, baking powder,
milk in a bowl and mix together to form a batter.
4. Add the diced banana to the batter and mix again.
5. Melt the butter in a frying over a high heat. Add small rounds of the
banana batter to the pan and fry for two minutes on each side, or
until golden.
6. To serve, place the chicken on a warm plate with the tomatoes and
fritters stacked alongside

Then of course there's baked bananas, just tucked into a medium oven and cooked 'til they're black.
Serve with a spoonful of rum and some thick cream. and what about my nursery favourite - bananas and custard? So many recipes ....... who would now throw any bananas away? Unless you don't like them, of course!

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