This easy-peasy banana bread has become my frequent go-to for using up fruit that’s quickly losing freshness in my fruit bowl. Originally from Nigella Lawson’s excellent book, How To Be A Domestic Goddess, this banana bread is cheap to make, freezer friendly and super versatile. If bananas have become over-ripe I often throw them straight in the freezer whole, skins and all, and then thaw them out to use another time – upon defrosting the insides just slop right out of their skins, and don’t even need mashing. And this recipe copes really well with almost anything you want to throw at it: old, bruised strawberries, rhubarb, a drained can of pineapple chunks/crushed pineapple, a handful of nuts, crystalized ginger… whatever floats your boat. Just keep the bananas!) The loaf pictured above features rotten bananas, too-far-gone pears and a handful of frozen raspberries from the freezer, and cost about $5 to make.
- 175 grams plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 125 grams unsalted butter (melted)
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 4 small very ripe bananas (mashed)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 170ºC and line a loaf tin with baking paper. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas, along with any other fruit you’ve decided to use – just blitz it in your food processor first. Then, with your wooden spoon stir in vanilla extract and any other ‘bits’ you want – nuts, raspberries etc… Add all this to the flour mixture, then scrape into a loaf tin (23 x 13 x 7cm) and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-1¼ hours (start checking at 1 hour). When it’s ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer. Also can be toasted and spread with butter for a yummy brunchy breakfast.
How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson is my second favourite cook book for baking (the first being Belinda Jeffrey’s Mix and Bake), and it’s where I came across this lovely pancake recipe. I’ve been using it for more than ten years because the resulting pancakes are wonderful: light and fluffy, and lovely and thick, without being dense or rubbery. The mixture can be used immediately, though it can also be made ahead of time and allowed to stand in the fridge for whenever you need to use it. The batter I made for those in the picture here was left on the bench for only 10 minutes before cooking. The quantities below make 30 medium sized pancakes (just halve the quantities for a smaller crowd) and costs no more than $1.50 to make.
- 2 tablespoons baking powder or 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 teaspoons icing sugar
- 60 grams butter, melted
- 600ml milk
- 4 eggs
- 500g plain flour
- Butter for frying
- Place all the ingredients in either a food processor or stand mixer and mix together until all the lumps are gone.
- Transfer mixture to a 2L jug, or smaller if halving the recipe.
- Cook pancakes one at a time in a decent non-stick pan on medium heat. When you start to see bubbles blistering on the pancake it’s time to flip to the other side for no more than a minute.
- Enjoy topped with whatever you like: lemon and sugar, maple syrup and butter, bacon or berries or ice-cream.
Today is Australia Day so I’m pretty excited to be sharing this lovely lamb recipe with you, not only because in my family Australia day equals eating a good deal of lamb, but because this dish, adapted from a terrific one by Nigella Lawson, pointed in my direction by my friend Amy, is all the things this blog is about: easy, tasty, affordable and delightfully do-able when having people over. Using either lamb loin or chump chops, simply place all the ingredients in a roasting dish at the same time and stick it in the oven. You don’t even need to turn anything! Just add something green to eat it with, perhaps a salad or steamed green beans, and whack the lot, straight out of the oven, onto the middle of the table with a fresh loaf of bread for mopping up the yummy juices. The lamb turns out oh so tenderly and the chopped fresh parsley makes the flavours come alive. This recipe is easily doubled using two roasting dishes and which can both go in the oven together – no problem: that’s 12-16 people fed for the cost of one at a nice restaurant! Even better is the fact that this delicious one-pot feast is gluten, egg, wheat and diary free. Using the quantities below, this recipe serves 6-8 and costs no more than $15 to make. Thanks for this one, Amy.
- 12 lamb chops, either loin or chump
- 3 baking potatoes, adding up to approximately 650g
- 45ml olive oil (approximately three tablespoons)
- 2 teaspoons dried mint
- 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (a little less if substituting with chilli powder)
- salt and pepper
- 2 lemons
- small handful of roughly chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Put the lamb into a roasting dish
- Cut clean potatoes into wedges (don’t bother peeling them) and place them in the gaps around the lamb.
- Drizzle the oil over the lamb and potatoes and sprinkle with the dried mint, chilli flakes and salt.
- Zest 1 lemon over the roasting tin and then juice both lemons and pour the juice over everything in the tray.
- Season well with salt and pepper and cook in the oven for 1 hour, not bothering to turn anything over. Pull the tray out of the oven when everything looks quite brown (don’t let anything burn), and if it looks like it’s very brown before the end of the cooking time, cover the tray in foil and return to the oven.
- Serve everything in the middle of the table for a yummy and casual feast.
We recently enjoyed the pleasure that is old friends coming for an impromptu dinner. We’d had a lovely day taking things slowly: sleep ins; going for a drive in the country; and coming home for afternoon rests followed by feeling recharged enough to feel like cooking for the evening ahead. Still, I didn’t want to lose the sense of relaxation the day had brought so wanted to stick to a simple offering for dinner and dessert. A quick flick through Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Express produced this recipe for Chocolate Croissants and the simplicity of just three ingredients grabbed me immediately. And they turned out to be all the things I love: fast, tasty, cheap to make and easy to prepare. I made these in the late afternoon, but didn’t bake them until we’d finished our main course, which turned out to be delightful timing – allowing dinner to ‘sit’ and then consuming them at their warmest and freshest. Serve stacked up on a platter for a free-for-all feast, or in bowls with cream or icecream. Alternatively these could be made in a more miniature form for church morning teas or a finger food dessert for a larger crowd. The quantities listed below serves 8 and costs around a total of $5.
- 4 sheets of ready rolled puff pastry, thawed and cut once each diagonally to create two large triangles per square
- 1 x 230g bag of Cadbury Choc Bits (I used milk, but use dark chocolate if you prefer)
- 1 egg, whisked in a cup
- Preheat oven to 220 degrees
- Evenly distribute choc-chips along the long end of each triangle of pastry and press them in firmly
- Starting with the long end of the triangle, roll pastry until you have all the choc-chips trapped inside. Then fold each end in to keep chocolate trapped. Then continue rolling into a log shape until all the pastry is rolled up.
- Shape the log of pastry and chocolate into a pretzel shape or whatever shape you like
- Place each on an oven tray with enough space between them to grow a little
- Using a pastry brush, cover each croissant in egg-wash
- Bake for around 15 minutes until brown on outside and mostly cooked through. Enjoy!
As in most households, I suspect, Sunday night dinners get very slack in this house. ‘Breakfast for dinner’ (yes, Weetbix and porridge) get regular guernseys here – thankfully the kids like it. Every now and then, Sunday night dinner goes beyond slack to the absolute trashy, and tonight it was just that. A few months ago I heard of Nigella Lawson’s Vegemite Spaghetti and it intrigued me. Vegemite and cheese are winners in my tastebud book, so vegemite pasta topped with grated cheese throughly appealed. I was absolutely not disappointed. While I hate to think how bad it is for me (carb heavy, no protein, no vegetables), I think it’s set to become a Sunday night favourite in this house. Despite its not-so-healthy specs, it really is very cheap to make, so much so it’s not worth costing. If you’re a Vegemite fan in other gastronomic contexts, go on, give it a go!
- 375g dried spaghetti
- 50g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon Vegemite
- freshly grated parmesan or tasty cheese to serve
1. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water according to directions. Drain and rinse under water keeping a cup of the pasta water.
2. In the same pan, put on the heat and evaporate the water and then melt the butter and add the Vegemite and a tablespoon of the pasta water and mix to dissolve. Add the cooked pasta and more pasta water to combine if necessary. Serve with grated parmesan or tasty cheese if you like.
Above: Original Blueberry Muffins
Below: Sugar Free Blueberry Muffins
I have been using this Blueberry Muffin recipe by Nigella Lawson for years as my basic muffin recipe, morphing the flavours to suit what is desired – raspberry and white chocolate, chocolate chip and berry flavoured. Recently I’ve needed to modify it to be made on Stevia rather than sugar and it still works quite well. Below you’ll find the original recipe and the version of it I use when making them sugar free. Please don’t go to the shop to buy buttermilk, I’ve only ever used the yoghurt and milk replacement and it work fine. These are fast to make and will cost you no more than $3-4 depending on your choice of filling.
- 75g unsalted butter,
- 200g plain flour
- ½ tsp bicarb of soda
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 75g caster sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 200ml buttermilk (or 100g yoghurt and 100ml milk)
- 1 large egg
- 200g blueberries (I often use less to reduce cost)
- 12 hole muffin tray lined with 12 paper cases
- Preheat oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
- Melt the butter and set aside to cool a little.
- Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and in a measuring jug beat together the buttermilk (or yoghurt and milk), egg and melted butter.
- Using a wooden spoon and a light hand, pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix gently to combine. Don’t worry about lumps, the important thing is the mixture isn’t over-worked.
- Fold in the blueberries, again keeping mixing to a minimum.
- Spoon into the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes, by which time the muffins should be risen, golden and firm on top.
For sugar free blueberry muffins: increase flour to 300g and replace sugar for 40g granulated Stevia.