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Nutella Banana Bread

This is a recipe which I have had printed out and in my "To Bake Someday" folder, for about two years now.  It is a recipe I found on a little blog called Chef In Training, and I remember it looking really, really tasty.  I often spy things on the net which catch my eye, and I think  I would like to try baking sometime.  I print them out and stick them in a file . . .  and sometimes . . .  I actually DO get around to baking them!

I had bought a HUGE jar of Nutella a few months back.  What was I thinking???   There is no way I could ever hope to use it all up, unless I use it for extra things like baking.   It tastes really good spread onto malt biscuits . . . but that would be an awful lot of Malt Biscuits . . . it's a 750g jar! (That's over a pound in weight!)

So the other day I dug through my recipes and pulled out this banana bread recipe to try out.  It worked out well because I also had a bunch of brown bananas that I had bought before Christmas that just didn't get eaten . . . there is nothing better to do with brown bananas than to bake a banana bread!

My bread didn't come out of the oven near as tasty looking as Chef In Trainings did . . . it actually looked rather ugly and I did have to add about 15 minutes time to the baking . . . but wow, cut it open and it more than makes up for it's ugly surface. 

That's kind of like people don't you think???  Some of the prettiest ones are the ones who aren't much to look at on the outsides . . . but dig a bit deeper and you've found a gem!  Anyways, it was rather, RATHER tasty sliced and eaten plain . . . but then again, we quite, QUITE like it sliced and spread with softened butter because . . . that's just how we roll around here.

*Nutella Banana Bread*
Makes one medium loaf

Your favorite bread swirled with your favorite spread.  What's not to like about this one? 

280g plain flour (2 cups)
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBS unsalted butter, softened
190g caster sugar (1 cup)
2 large free range eggs
287g of mashed bananas (1 1/4 cups)
1 tsp vanilla paste
80ml of whole milk (1/3 cup)
145g of nutella (heaped 3/4 cup) 

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 5.  Butter an 8 by 4 inch loaf tin and line with baking paper.  Butter the paper.  Set aside 

Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a beaker.  Set aside. 

Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly amalgamated.  Beat in the bananas, milk and vanilla.   Stir in the flour mixture just to moisten.   

Soften the nutella in the microwave for about 20 seconds.   Stir in 1/3 of the batter until well blended. 

Alternate the banana and nutella batters in the prepared baking tin.  Swirl together with a chopstick or knife.   Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until well risen and done.  It may seem a bit underdone in the centre, but that's how it should be.  Allow to cool at least 15 minutes in the pan before tipping out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely. 

In for a penny, in for  pound I guess.  Yum!  This is very good.  Bon Appetit and a very Happy New Year! 

Marie Rayner
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Lemon Bread Pudding


If you are looking for something a lot different from the Christmas Cakes, puddings and mince pies that you have been enjoying over the past week or so, look no further.  Today I have a fabulous Lemon Bread Pudding to share with you!

This pudding is very different than my usual Lemon Curd Bread and Butter Pudding that I make.

This is light and custardy, almost soufflee-like  . . .

It puffs up nice and light in the oven, but will sink upon standing, so you will want to serve as soon as possible.  But don't worry, it tastes fabulous even when it sinks  . . .

It is filled with lovely lemon flavour . . .  from thefresh juice and lemon zest used, along with a small amount of  Limencello which is totally optional, but if you have it, do use it!

Even Todd who is not overly fond of lemon anything (I know very strange indeed) enjoyed this  . . .

There is also a lovely Lemon and Cardamom sauce to serve . . . . warm and spooned over the warm pudding  . . . . lashings of cream could also be a nice addition, although we did not avail ourselves of it on the day.

This is seriously delicious. Cardamom and lemon are such beautiful partners  . . .

Sweet, tangy and moreish.  You cannot ask for much better than that! 

*Lemon Bread Pudding*
Serves 6 to 7

A delicious bread pudding with lovely lemon flavour, served with a fabulous warm lemon sauce. 

3 cups day old French or Italian Bread
4 tsp finely grated Lemon zest
240ml heavy or whipping cream (1 cup)
240ml whole milk (1 cup)
190g sugar (1 cup)
3 TBS butter, cut into bits
1/4 tsp salt
4 large free range eggs, separated
120ml fresh lemon juice (1/2 cup)
1 TBS Limencello (optional)
For the sauce:
95g sugar (1/2 cup)
240ml hot water (1 cup)
1 TBS corn flour (cornstarch)
2 tsp butter
 1 1/2 TBS lemon juice
pinch ground cardamom
 1 TBS Limencello (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  Butter the bottom only of a 2 litre/quart baking dish.

Heat the cream, milk, sugar and butter together to melt the butter.  Set aside.  Put the bread into a large bowl along with the lemon zest.  Toss to coat the bread with the zest.  Pour in the milk mixture and set aside to cool.  Whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice and lemincello if using.  Add this to the bread mixture in the bowl and combine.  Whisk together the egg whites until stiff. Fold gently into the bread mixture and then pour into the prepared dish.

Bake for one hour, or until a knife inserted near the centre comes out clean.

While the pudding is baking make the sauce.  Whisk together the sugar and corn flour in the top of a double boiler.  Whisk in the hot water, lemon juice and Limencello, if using.  Cook, whisking constantly until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Whisk in the butter and cardamom.  Keep warm.

Serve the pudding spooned out into bowls with some of the sauce drizzled over top.

I think a scoop of vanilla ice cream served on top of the warm pudding would also not go amiss!  Happy New Year and Bon Appetit!  

Marie Rayner
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Teriyaki Pork Steaks

I was recently asked if I would like to try some of the new range of fresh pork raised without anti-biotics from The Black Farmer. Leading the way in being the first mainstream brand to introduce the produces, The Black Farmer has worked closely with partner farms to establish farming and production methods in response to the rising resistance to antibiotics. The selection of fresh British pork cuts from RSPCA assured pork can be easily identified by the blue Antibiotic Free swing tag.   

The Black Farmer range comprises a Shoulder Joint; Fillet Medallions; Loin Steaks; Loin Chops; Belly Joint and Belly Slices. Like many, The Black Farmer loves good roast pork and the meat is not the same without perfect crackling. His way is to score the fat, massage with oil and a good rub of coarse sea salt, then 20 minutes at a very high heat in the oven, before turning it down. Works every time!

The unique farming method means that the sows are free to roam outside and are fed on only vegetarian feed. The system guarantees that piglets are born outdoors and reared without the use of antibiotics from birth. Such a high level of welfare means that there is a consistent supply of healthy, natural pig meat from happy pigs. And happy pigs means happy tummies!  

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, The Black Farmer, comments: “Unbeknown to the consumer, pork rearing involves the regular use of antibiotics. The farming industry will tell us that it is in the best interest of the animals, and I for one don’t want to see animals suffer unnecessarily. If they need antibiotics, they should be given them. Overuse and unnecessary use of antibiotics is leading to disease resistant strains. I believe that there is a growing number of consumers who prefer not to be consuming meat that has been inoculated, just as there are consumers who prefer their meat to be reared to organic standards or within RSPCA Approved guidelines. The consumer has been fantastic at pushing our industry into improving farming practices, making this country’s animal welfare standards some of the best in the world. Raised without antibiotics is another step in that direction. I am glad to be the first to market with this concept in pork cuts.”

With the holidays and everything today was the first opportunity to cook some of the product and I chose to do Loin Steaks.  They looked really good, with a nice marbeling, and yet at the same time they appeared to be quite lean.

We are very fond of Asian flavours and I decided to cook these in a Teriaki flavoured sauce/marinade. It was a great choice!

Dark soy, garlic, rice wine vinegar, ginger and a bit of honey are all you need for the sauce.  Normally I would top with a ring of pineapple, but  . . .

All I had in the cupboard was a tin of pineapple chunks.  Not to be put off by that, I simply topped the steaks with well drained pineapple chunks, and they worked quite well, perhaps not as attractive as rings might have been but still just as delicious!

These pork steaks were really delicious.  There was none of that piggy smell you sometimes get from pork.  They were lean and tender and went down a real treat! I used the rest of the tin of pineapple chunks to make a pineapple garlic fried brown rice, a favourite recipe we like to use from Damn Delicious.  I did not add the ham today because we didn't need it.  We had that lovely tasting pork instead.

I liked that I was eating meat that was not only higher welfare, but that wasn't pumped full of anti-biotics . . .  and it was delicious.  I can't wait to try the rest of it!

*Baked Teriyaki Pork Steaks*
Serves 4
Nicely flavoured and tender pork with a delicious sauce and glaze! 

4 pork loin steaks
4 pineapple rings

For the sauce:
80ml dark soy sauce (1/3 up)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 TBS rice vinegar
3 TBS water
3 TBS honey
1 TBS minced fresh ginger

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ Gas mark 6.  Line a baking dish with aluminium foil and butter the foil.  Lay the pork out in a single layer in the pan.  Place a pineapple ring on top of each. Whisk together the sauce ingredients to combine.Pour over and around the pork.  Bake in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, basting with the sauce every 10 minutes.  Serve hot with some of the sauce spooned over each.

The full range is now available at

About The Black Farmer 
The Black Farmer is one of the UK’s leading gluten free brands marketing a range of higher welfare, award winning pork sausages, chicken, burgers, meatballs, pork cuts, bacon, eggs and cheese. Launched 12 years ago the brand has gone on to great success with its products available in all the major UK high street and online retailers. The brand’s founder, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is in his own words ‘a poor boy, done good’. He was born in Frankfield, Clarendon, Jamaica and then, after his parents came to the UK in the 1950s, was raised in inner city Birmingham. For a number of years Wilfred worked as a chef before pursuing a career in television. In 2000 Wilfred fulfilled a lifelong ambition to buy a small farm in Devon. This inspired him to develop and launch The Black Farmer – a name coined by his Devon neighbours. His Premium Pork sausages are one of the country’s leading brands of super premium sausages.

I can't wait to try the rest of the range.  I was very impressed with these loin steaks.  Thanks Black Farmer!

Note - Although I was sent the pork free of charge for the purpose of review, I was not required to write a positive review in exchange.  Any opinions are my own.
Marie Rayner
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Cabbage Rolls

For the whole week before Christmas I was craving cabbage rolls, and not just any cabbage rolls, but the ones that my ex BIL used to get at a German Butcher's he frequented in  Windsor, Ontario.  They were probably the best cabbage rolls I have ever eaten.  I am also mighty fond of the M&M ones . . .  but I have to admit my homemade ones are also very, very good!  It is an old, old recipe which I have been making for many, many years and always the first thing to disappear at a buffet table.

Last week when I was craving the ones from Windsor however and the M&M ones, I got to thinking to myself, and we all know what happens then.   I decided to adapt my own recipe to what I felt the difference was between theirs and mine.

And I have to say I was well pleased with the end result!  It was a simple change really . . .  I decided to use pork sausage meat instead of beef.  That's it.  And they were very, very close to what I was craving . . .  very close.

My mother used to make cabbage rolls when I was growing up, but hers were very different than mine.  She did not use any rice at all, and she only covered them with a tin of chopped tomatoes, there was no sauce per se.  She also added peeled potatoes an carrots to the pot. They were pretty good.  I was never fond of the meat part, but I did like the cabbage.

My father was never fond of the cabbage.  We had a deal between us.  I gave him the meat from mine, and he gave me his cabbage. We both felt like winners.  My mother also cooked hers entirely on top of the stove, in her old Wearever aluminum dutch oven.  I do mine totally in the oven. 

Generally speaking I like to use a white cabbage, or ordinary cabbage . . .  Nothing fancy here. No Savoy or any other kind.  Just ordinary cabbage.  This time I tried a sweetheart cabbage, which is just like a white cabbage except it has fewer leaves, looser leaves and they are rather elongated.  It worked very well.  I was quite pleased with the results.

The sauce for mine is a really simple sauce.  Passata (tomato sauce), lemon juice and brown sugar.  I used the Cirio Passata, again because it is my favourite kind, with a lovely rich tomato flavour.  There is nothing there except for sieved tomatoes.  Thick and rich, never bitter or sharp, quite pleasant . . . you can almost taste that Italian sunshine.

I have to say I totally ADORED them made with sausage meat.  TOTALLY!  These were soooooo tasty.  I made them on the eve of Christmas Eve, meaning the night before Christmas Eve.

The recipe makes exactly one dozen cabbage rolls.  We each had two and then I froze the remainder in 4 roll lots to take out later on this winter on a day when I am over busy or feel like treating myself.

I don't know what is normal to serve with cabbage rolls, but I served them with rice and some peas and carrots.  It really was a fabulous dinner.   I think it is safe to say I will be making my cabbage rolls with sausage meat from now on!

*Cabbage Rolls*
Makes 12

This is an adaptation of our favourite cabbage roll recipe.  Delicious, moist and meaty with a fabulous sweet and sour sauce.  These always go down a real treat.  I often double and triple the recipe when I take them to pot luck suppers.  I always bring home an empty dish. 

1 pound extra lean sausage meat
(I use a pack or sausages, skin removed)
55g raw long grain rice (1/4 cup)
1 medium free range egg, beaten with a fork
1 medium onion, peeled and grated
1 small carrot, peeled and grated
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 wilted cabbage leaves, thick veins trimmed to thin 

For the sauce:

100g soft light brown sugar, (1/2 cup packed)
60ml fresh lemon juice (1/4 cup)
240ml tomato passata  (1 cup tomato sauce) 

Preheat the oven to 190*C/375*F/gas mark 5.  
Place the meat into a bowl and mix together with the rice, egg, onion, carrot, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Mix well.  Shape into 12 equal sized ovals.  Place each oval at the wide end of a wilted cabbage leaf.  Roll up, tucking in the sides to completely encase the meat.  Place, folded side down, into a greased baking dish.  Mix together the brown sugar, lemon juice and tomato sauce.  Pour this sauce over the rolls.  Cover tightly with a lid.  Place the casserole into the heated oven and bake for 1 hour.  Uncover at the end of that time and bake for 20 minutes longer.  Serve hot.

These were as close to perfect as any cabbage roll could be.  I don't know why people think that making cabbage rolls is really fiddly.  It isn't really.  Well, not for me anyways.

I hope you will try these and make them with sausage meat when you do!  I think you will agree with me when I say these are Da Bomb! Bon Appetit! 

Marie Rayner
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