Chocolate Banana Bread/Cake

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I have 2 over riped bananas in my pantry once again. A little tired of making banana muffins and hence searched the internet for new ideas. Came across this Banana Bread/Cake recipe by David Lebovitz and found it interesting as chocolate is added. Actually I was equally baffled about the term "bread", why do they call it bread when it's a cake? Never mind whether it is supposed to be Banana Bread or Banana Cake, I was more intrigued by the chocolate component. Banana and chocolate are always good together, aren't they? I happened to have some Valrhona Araguani 72% dark chocolate in my fridge and decided to have a go at this recipe.

The whole process was fairly simple and quick, just like making muffins actually. I changed some components of the ingredients like Greek-style Yogurt instead of sour cream and almost half the amount of sugar. Instead of chocolate chips or cocoa nibs, I used dark chocolate. The batter was enough to fill one aluminium tray and the balance I used a Winnie-The-Pooh Silicone Mould bought from Hong Kong last year. Hopefully dear son would be attracted to Pooh :) The intense aroma of the banana as well as cinnamon (yes, a bit of cinnamon was added) filled the entire kitchen and I was salivating throughout the 50 minutes wait coz I love cinnamon.

Though the cake didn't look that appetizing but trust me, it tasted good! It was tender and moist, with wonderful combination of banana, chocolate and cinnamon. It was not too sweet (as I reduced the amount of sugar) and had a tinge of bitterness due to the dark chocolate. Hubby brought some to his office and apparently it was quite well received coz the cake was not too sweet.
Pooh didn't turn out too pretty :p and I thought the crust was a little too thick. My son was naturally attracted to the bear-bear (he doesn't know Pooh yet). At first bite, he didn't seem to like the cake and didn't want more. I cut the cake into smaller pieces and used toothpicks for each piece. He became more receptive and even asked for more. Probably he wasn't used to the taste of cinnamon initially.

Ok, another banana recipe added to my list :)



Chocolate Banana Cake
(Adapted from Banana Bread/Cake recipe by David Lebovitz)
(Makes one 8"x 4"x 2" Disposable Aluminium Pan and four 2" silicone mould bears)
(Or one 9" square pan)
210g Plain Flour
1 tsp Double Acting Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
80g Caster Sugar (original recipe uses 150g)
55g Unsalted Butter, melted and cool to room temperature
1 large Egg White, room temperature
1 large Egg, room temperature
2 very ripe medium/large bananas, mashed
115g Greek Style Yogurt (original recipe uses sour cream)
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
60g Dark Chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Valrona Aruguani 72%, original recipe uses chocolate chips/cocoa nibs)
1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. If using square pan, butter and line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper.
2. Sift together in a bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the sugar and mix well together.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the melted butter, egg white, egg, banana puree, yogurt and vanilla extract.
4. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and fold in the wet ingredients with a spatula until almost mixed. Add the chocolate chips and fold until just combined, stop when any traces of flour disappear.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Cool on a baking rack and slice only after the cake has cooled down.
Storage: This cake will keep well for 3-4 days, or can be frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap, for a few months.

Homemade Chicken Pau

After attending Chef Valerie's Pau Workshop back in August, I've finally succeeded in my first Homemade Chicken Pau. Well, actually I attempted a batch of Pork Pau shortly after the workshop, but uh-oh, I'd  rather not talk about it (read: failure).

The process was much smoother this time, the pau dough looked ok, with the right texture as I remembered from the class. I do need lots more practice though! Was supposed to roll each piece of dough into a flat disc with the centre being slightly thicker than the sides. But somehow I could never get a perfect piece of round flat disc and I could never manage to roll the sides thinner. When I rolled the sides thinner, the disc became an odd shape; when I didn't/couldn't, the sides were too thick to pleat properly.

I don't know why the pleats of the Pau cracked after steaming. Will ask Chef Valerie if I have a chance to next time. Nevertheless, I was quite happy with the result; the Pau looked pretty decent and edible of course.
I can't share the recipe here due to copyrights stipulated by the Chef and Cooking School. So here's just a pictorial run-through. Top left photo showed the minced chicken aka the filling of the pau. Instead of turnip as stated in the recipe, I added water chestnut. I also reduced the amount of seasonings. Important step in preparing the filling, was to whack it, so that the meat would bind together and more crunchy. Top right photo, started to wrap by putting a bit of filling in the centre of the pau dough. As you could see, my pau dough wasn't very round. Bottom left photo, I topped the filling with hald a quail egg. Bottom right photo, tadah, my wrapped pau. The pleats were a little too thick, as a result of the sides of the dough not rolled thin enough. But still, looked ok lah.
So here's my chicken pau before steaming. I thought I rolled 12 pieces of dough but I realised after wrapping that I had only 11 paus! Haha :p (I think the dough wasn't enough or something, well never mind).
And tadah, the chicken paus after 15 mins of high heat steaming. Not bad, except some of the pleats cracked.
After the paus cooled "sufficiently" (as usual I was dying to try), I quickly took one large bite. Hmmm, the pau was soft and fluffy and the filling juicy. The filling was not as savoury due to less amount of seasonings but I was trying to go more healthy here :p I seriously need to practise more coz the bottom of the pau was quite thin and the top (pleated parts) too thick, a bit unbalanced.

Making pau at home is not that difficult, just tedious and time consuming (and my son couldn't be at home or he'll mess around - he's too young to appreciate or help out at his age). Ok, adding to my to-do list - Vegetable Pau, Char Siew Pau and Egg Yolk Custard Pau. Till then :)

Tofu Burger

Dear son has taken a very very great interest in fast food recently, you know, burgers and fries. He used to be satisfied with hotcakes when we went McDonalds for breakfast but these days, he wanted my Egg Muffin instead. He ended up eating half of my Egg Muffin and I had to take his hotcakes -_-

Hubby had a dinner appointment the other night and I thought of making tofu burger and oven baked fries for dear son and my dinner. 2 years back, I made Minced Pork & Tofu burger before but this time I wanted to try something slightly different. After taking reference from several blogs and online cooking guides, I decided to concoct my own recipe.

The tofu patties were really easy to make, besides firm tofu (tau kwa), I added minced chicken, carrot, mushroom, broccoli, onion, cheese and breadcrumbs. For flavouring, some sea salt, mixed herbs and spices like ground cumin (whatever I had in my pantry). It's actually quite versatile, different types of veggies could be added. Minced chicken is optional, I just wanted more texture. Next time, I would probably add seaweed and sesame seeds :) I made the tofu patties in the morning and chilled them in the fridge till evening so that the patties would be firmer for pan frying. Didn't have time to make my own burger buns, so I bought the Sunshine Butter Rolls which are the right size for my mini tofu patties (about 2 inch rounds).

To make the burger, I simply pan-fried the patties till slightly golden brown, and sandwiched it between the butter roll with some lettuce. The butter rolls could be lightly toasted with some butter or spread with some mayonaise or even ketchup for additional flavours.
The tofu patties could even be eaten on its own :)

Dear son loves the tofu burger! He ate one whole burger and an additional tofu patty. Besides that, he also ate at least 10 pieces of oven baked fries. Big appetite for a little fellow!

Tofu Patties
(Makes 10 pieces of 2 inch rounds)

Ingredients
  • 1 block firm tofu (tau kwa)
  • 3 tbsp minced chicken breast
  • 1 medium purple onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 piece carrot, grated
  • 3 fresh shiitake mushroom, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks broccoli, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 4 tbsp Japanese panko (breadcrumbs) + additional for sprinkling on top of patties
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Herbs and spices, dash
Method
  1. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan. Once hot, fry the onion for a few minutes until soft and fragrant. Add the carrot, broccoli and mushroom and stir fry for a few minutes till softened. Set aside and let the mixture cool down.
  2. Mash the tofu using a potato masher or fork, add the minced chicken breast and cooled mixture (1) and mix well together.
  3. Add the shredded mozzarella cheese and breadcrumbs, and mix evenly till mixture is firm. If mixture is too sticky and soft, add more breadcrumbs.
  4. Shape the tofu mixture into patties depending on size and thickness desired. I made them into about 2 inch rounds (to fit the Sunshine Butter Rolls) and got 10 pieces.
  5. Place the patties on a tray with greaseproof paper or Silpat. The patties will be slightly soft as tofu is used instead of all meat.
  6. Sprinkle some bread crumbs on top of each patty and press down gently. Cover with clingwrap and chill in the fridge for 3 - 4 hours.
  7. When ready, fry the burger in a little oil or butter on medium high heat for few minutes, depending on the thickness of the patty. Serve warm, nice eaten on its own or with dips like mayo, ketchup, chilli sauce.

Fruit Jelly

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My final bid to use up the excess strawberries in my fridge *phew* finally! No more strawberries for the next few weeks!

The recipe is a guest post on Cuisine Paradise, by Ann of Anncoo Journal. Dear son hasn't tried agar agar before so I thought I could give this a try. I like the dual layer effect, one layer being milk agar agar and the other plain agar agar with fruits. Besides strawberries, I added peach as I have some in my fridge and I didn't want to buy the additional fruits (blueberries, kiwi) mentioned in the recipe. I halved the recipe and managed to yield 4 plastic cups and additional 2 glasses of the fruit jelly.

For the glasses, I did the exact layering as stated in the recipe but for the plastic cups, I reversed the layering so that when the jelly was turned out, the white part was at the bottom and top part was the jelly with fruits.

Looked quite pretty and sweet right?
These were the plastic cups I used for the jelly. Very nostalgic right? I remember we used similar cups for our jellies when we were young :)

Dear son didn't seem to like the fruit jelly very much, he took only half a cup and wasn't quite enthusiastic about it. Probably the agar agar was a bit too hard. Offered a cup to hubby but he wasn't keen either! Why why why? Now I still have 2 cups and 2 glasses sitting in the fridge. How how how?

Strawberry Crunch

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Another recipe which I attempted (in my quest to use up the excess strawberries) is Strawberry Crunch, from Food 4 Tots.

Once again, it's an easy peasy recipe and I have most of the ingredients in my pantry. I halved the recipe and made just two glasses for our tea break. I love the crunchy bits of oats and sunflower seeds which were dry fried and coated with some honey, as well as the combination of the flavours of strawberries, yogurt and orange juice. Alas, dear son didn't seem to like it very much. He took most of the yogurt and left the oats crunch. Probably he's not used to eating oats like this. I was a little disappointed as this makes a healthy snack/breakfast and I thought I could serve this to him often. Well, we'll try again another time and probably he'd change his mind (you know kids).

If you are interested in this recipe, hop over to Food 4 Tots for details :)


Strawberry Muffin

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I've been making many strawberry desserts recently as I have lots of strawberries left over from making a Strawberry Jelly Heart cake for a gathering. Usually I just buy one big punnet and it would be enough for the cake, but Cold Storage had this promotion of $9.90 for two punnets (usual price $5.90 per punnet), so I thought no harm buying two punnets. Well, I ended up with so many extras that I don't know what to do with them! There is only this much strawberry one can eat. I added diced strawberries to my son's yogurt till he's sick of them, and he won't eat them whole as the strawberries were a little too tangy for his liking. So I started searching for recipes online and attempted a few of them, just to use up the strawberries.

First up, Strawberry Muffins from Noob Cook. A very simple recipe that doesn't require mixer and easily done within 30 mins. I made only 1/3 of the recipe as I just want to make a small batch (my freezer is already filled with a number of baked goods), I also reduced the sugar by a third.

The result? The muffin was tender and moist when warm, and I love how the tangy strawberry bits balanced the sweetness of the muffin. My son liked it so much, he wanted a second one! Now I know what to do with left over strawberries in future :)


Strawberry Muffin
(Makes 9 x 5cm muffin cases)

Ingredients
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/3 tbsp baking powder
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 83g fresh milk, room temperature
  • 42g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6-7 strawberries, diced
Method
  1. Sift flour and baking powder together. Add sugar and mix until well incorporated.
  2. Mix milk, melted butter, egg and vanilla extract and stir well.
  3. Add the wet ingredients (2) to the dry ingredients (1) and fold gently till just incorporated. Do not over mix as it will result in a tough texture.
  4. Fold the diced strawberries into the mixture.
  5. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases (each about 2/3 filled).
  6. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven of 200C (400F) or until slightly golden brown. Allow to rest for several minutes before serving.

Coconut Banana Muffin

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Saw the latest blog post on a Coconut Banana Muffin by LK of Food-4Tots. Bingo! I have half a packet of dessicated coconut sitting in my fridge for quite sometime now and thinking of where to use it (instead of tossing it away). I also have a few ripened bananas which my son won't be able to finish before they turn too riped. My son loves bananas and whenever he sees them, he would go "nana, nana!", so bananas have sort of become a staple in my pantry but I limit him to one every two days so usually I'll have a few over-riped ones every other day.

I digress. So there, I decided to go ahead with the Coconut Banana Muffin.

This was how the muffin looked like before popping into the oven. The dessicated coconut topping sure looked like panko (Jap breadcrumbs).

The steps are easy to follow and an electric mixer is not even needed. I was able to go grocery shopping, then make a batch of these muffins, prepare dinner, wash and hang two batches of laundry, all in one morning (while my son was in morning childcare). Heehee, talk about multi-tasking!
The aroma of coconut and banana filled my whole house while the muffins were baking. Heavenly scent! I had to wait patiently for the muffins to be baked, and kept peering through the glass panel of the oven to check on them :p

The crust of the muffin was crispy due to the dessicated coconut topping. The muffin itself was tender and moist, tasted yummy with the wonderful combination of coconut and banana. I didn't know that the flavours of coconut and banana complement each other so well! One point to note, the muffin tasted nicer when warm and hardened slightly when cold; so it's best to pop them into a preheated oven or steam for a few mins before eating.

I offered one to dear son for his afternoon tea break and he devoured it hungrily and even asked for more. Well, I only allowed him to have one. When hubby tried one in the evening, he also gave thumbs up :)

If you are keen in this muffin, hop over to Food-4Tots for a very detail recipe with comprehensive photo guide too!