Chai Spiced Banana Walnut Bread – Recipe

203 chai spice banana bread

This is a light and fragrant tea loaf with flavours of spiced chai. Reminiscent of my travels in India and a good way to use up overripe bananas.


113g unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
225g plain white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe mashed bananas
135g sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
50g chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 175C degrees. Grease a loaf tin with non-stick cooking spray (I use Dr Oetker). Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each addition. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat gently until just combined. Add bananas, sour cream and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined. Gently stir in nuts. Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake until deep golden brown and cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Let rest in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.


Nanaimo Bars – Recipe


I’d never heard of these rich and delicious no-bake layered confections until my boyfriend mentioned he’d eaten them as a student in Canada. Originating from the City of Nanaimo, BC, the first Nanaimo Bar recipe appeared in the 1950s. There are now countless flavours and variations and even a Nanaimo Bar Trail – a self-guided city tour where one can sample everything from spring-roll and bacon-topped Nanaimo Bars to Nanaimo Bar cocktails, lattes and even pedicures. This recipe is the traditional original variety which I’ve adapted from Joy of Baking and Joyce Hardcastle. Preparation time: 45 minutes. Makes about 25 squares.


Bottom Layer:

113g unsalted butter, room temperature
50g granulated white sugar
30g unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
200g crushed Digestive Biscuits (the original calls for Graham Cracker crumbs, which can be bought online)
65g sweetened or unsweetened coconut (desiccated or flaked)
50g walnuts coarsely chopped

Middle Layer:

113g unsalted butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons cream
2 tablespoons custard powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
230g icing sugar

Top Layer:

120g dark chocolate
1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Grease a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) baking tin. Alternatively, line the baking tin with foil so that the sides overhang. Use the foil handles to remove the chilled mixture before cutting.

Bottom Layer: In a saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar and cocoa powder and then gradually whisk in the beaten egg. Return the saucepan to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens (1 – 2 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, digestive biscuit crumbs, coconut, and chopped nuts. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about half an hour).

Middle Layer: Beat the butter until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until the mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too thick to spread, add a little more cream. Spread the filling over the bottom layer, cover, and refrigerate until firm (about  half an hour).

Top Layer: Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Then, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Spread the melted chocolate evenly over the filling and refrigerate for about 10 minutes or just until the chocolate has set.

Cutting the Bars: Place two knives into hot water and alternate them to cut the bars without cracking the chocolate topping, replacing each knife in the hot water between cuts.

Asian Marinated Salmon – Recipe

A spicy, sweet and sticky Asian-inspired marinade makes this a quick and tasty dish to prepare. Serve with rice or noodles. Preparation time: 15 minutes; Cooking time: 20 minutes. Serves 4.


  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 4 Tbsp hoison sauce
  • 4 Tbsp soya sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp galangal or ginger, grated
  • 3 spring onions, chopped


In a bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, and chilli flakes.  Stir well to dissolve the honey.  Add the ginger, garlic, and chopped spring onion.

Taste the marinade, adjusting the chilli, honey or lime juice as desired.

Pour over the salmon, turning pieces in the sauce to saturate.  Cover and allow to marinate in your refrigerator at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 4.

Bake fish for 20 minutes or until cooked.

Remove from oven and taste the sauce, adjusting again if necessary.

Serve with noodles, rice or stir fried vegetables with sauce spooned over.

Beef Rendang – Recipe

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Inspired by my travels to Indonesia, this is a spicy, fragrant caramelised beef stew. Originating as a ceremonial dish of the Minangkabau people, rendang is now ubiquitous in the region, served at roadside stalls and padang restaurants with rice, egg and cassava leaf. Allow at least 2 hours for cooking. Serves 6.

The Galloping Gastronaut at Prambanan hindu temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The Galloping Gastronaut at Prambanan hindu temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia


  • 2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium red onions, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 25g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 75g chunk galangal , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 red chillies, roughly chopped (do not deseed)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1.5kg braising beef, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves (or 8 dried)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper


  • Blend the lemongrass, onions, garlic, ginger, galangal and chillies to a fine paste in a food processor.
  • Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the paste gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric and cook for two minutes.
  • Add the beef to the pan and stir to coat.
  • Cook for five minutes until the meat is very lightly browned.
  • Pour the coconut milk and 400ml water into the casserole. Add the lime leaves, cinnamon stick, sugar, tamarind paste, soy sauce and salt and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick (stir occasionally throughout). The coconut milk will reduce to form an unctuous stew. Season to taste.
  • Extract the lime leaves and cinnamon stick before serving. Serve with jasmine rice (I add a little coconut milk to mine), steamed greens and sambal oelek.

Pancetta, Red Onion & Cheese Muffins – Recipe

Cheesy and smoky pancetta wholemeal muffins .. what’s not to like? Makes 12. Make sure you use really smoky bacon or pancetta and strong cheddar to make the most of the flavours.


1 tsp olive oil

120g pancetta (or smoked bacon), diced

1 red onion, finely chopped

250g wholemeal self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 eggs

80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

200ml buttermilk

1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

150g extra mature cheddar

photo 1 (2)


Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6 and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases.

Heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the pancetta or bacon until crispy. Set aside and drain on kitchen paper.

Using the residual fat, fry the onion until just soft (five minutes or so), then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, butter and buttermilk and stir them into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined.

Fold in the cooled bacon, onion, chives and 100g or so of the cheese until evenly distributed.

Spoon the muffin mixture into the tin and top with the remaining grated cheese.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden and baked through.

Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Pumpkin, Feta & Rosemary Muffins – Recipe

photo 4

A delicious wholemeal and oat muffin with a decadent melted gooey cheese centre. Makes 6 extra large or about 9 normal sized muffins. Prep. 20 minutes; Cooking time: 20 minutes.


175g stoneground wholemeal flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

100g strong Cheddar

120g pumpkin or butternut squash, cooked and seasoned

4 eggs

1/2 cup olive oil, plus extra for greasing

Freshly ground black pepper

60g feta, cut into large chunks (blue cheese could work well too)

4 tbsp grated Parmesan

Few sprigs of rosemary


Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix in the Cheddar.

Blend the pumpkin with the eggs and olive oil and add to the bowl. Mix well with a fork. Add a few twists of black pepper.

Brush the muffin pan with oil, then spoon in the muffin mixture. Push a cube  of feta or blue cheese in each.

photo 2

Sprinkle with Parmesan and tuck a sprig of rosemary into each.

photo 3

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and baked through.

Allow to cool for a few minutes before turning out.

Serve warm so feta or blue cheese is molten.