Caramelised Banana & Pecan

Do you ever have those days that you REALLY want a dessert that’s warm and gooey and sticky. A dessert that is pure comfort food. A dessert that is worth not eating dinner for. A dessert that the whole family likes. But then you realise you have no time, and very limited ingredients in the house.

Well I found one to ticks all the boxes. Well made it up as I went along actually. But it was good! Great for those days when you have some bananas that need using up too!

This fed 4 of us (but 2 were little)

Ingredients:

3 bananas cut diagonally into 1 inch thick strips

2 tsp Coconut oil

Couple of handfuls pecan halves

Dollop of double cream, whipped

Butterscotch or toffee sauce (I used the caramel that I put on top of my brownies, but any similar sauce will do the trick)

Pinch sea salt

How to make it amazing:

Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan over a med-high heat. Once it’s hot add the banana slices. When they are sizzling and browning then carefully turn them over and give the pan a little shake. Fry until soft and gooey and brown on this side too. You may have to do this is 2 batches depending on the size of your pan. Put the banana onto serving plates and add the pecans to the pan and give them a toss around in the remaining coconut, until they are just starting to toast. Serve with the banana, a dollop of cream as then Drizzle some toffee/caramel sauce over the top. Sprinkle a little sea salt on the top. Serve immediately while warm and Yummy!

Vicky’s Apple & Caramel Tart

Did you know I love creating puddings? That might not come as a surprise to anyone that has even seen our range of ‘Vicky’s Cakes’, or indeed come over for dinner!

So last weekend I tried a new one, Apple and Caramel Tart. I find the best creations come when I make it up as I go along, so that’s what I did! I’m not a big fan of things that are too sickly sweet so if a dish has a very sweet part, I try to compliment it with a not so sweet part! The salted caramel brownies that I make have a very sweet caramel so I make the brownie rich, nutty and dark, but not very sweet at all. So I thought I’d use the caramel that I use for the brownie (minus the salt) in the apple tart, and focus on making the rest of the tart quite, well erm…tart! So I used savoury short crust pastry and a sharp apple filling, to be complimented by all that gooey and sweet caramel and buttery pecans.

Ingredients:

For the pastry:

125g butter, softened

250g plain flour (plus a little extra for rolling out)

Drop of cold water

For the caramel:

75g caster sugar

1.5-2 tbsp water

25g butter

100ml double cream

1 tbsp golden syrup

You will also need:

2 medium-large bramley apples

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1.5 tsp cinnamon, ground

Pecan halves (as many as you like)

A large pie dish

How to make it tasty:

1. Pre heat your oven to 180oC. Begin with the pastry. In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour with your finger tips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add a drop is water and mix to combine. Keep adding a drop of water more until it sticks into a ball, but isn’t too wet and sticky. Knead briefly, until well incorporated, on a floured surface and then roll out evenly until just a little larger than the size of the pie dish. Press into the bottom, and up the sides and then trip around the top leaving it a little longer than the tin, and press edges into a nice pattern with your fingertips. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans/rice to press the bottom down and blind bake for 10 minutes.

2. Prepare the apples while the pastry blind bakes. Peel the apples and cut into slices. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and tip over the apple slices. Give it a shake so the apple is evenly coated. Once the pastry case come out of the oven, remove the baking paper and rice/ beans and arrange the apple slices in a nice pattern inside the case. Return to the oven for approx 20-25 minutes.

3. Whilst it all bakes, make the caramel. Put the sugar and water into a large pan over a high heat. There’s a big ‘to stir or not to stir’ debate but I rightly or wrongly give it a stir. When it turns an amber colour, add the cream, butter and golden syrup and return to the heat. Stir until smooth and combined and then reduce the heat and simmer for a few minutes until it’s thickened slightly.

4. When the pie comes out of the oven after the 20-25 minutes, sprinkle pecans (as many as you like) over the top, and then spoon all the caramel over the top, making sure it’s all nicely coated on top. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes to finish off.

5. Leave to cool in the tin slightly, the caramel will thicken as it cools. Ideal temperature to serve this at (for me) is just warm, but not hot. So get it out of the oven when dinner is ready so that it’s the perfect temperature for when it’s pudding time! I served it with a drizzle of cream.

Do let me know if you try this recipe and what you think!

What I’d make out of a ‘Just Add Recipe’ Box

I’m so excited that we have launched the ‘Just Add Recipe’ boxes because this is exactly how we cook at home. We rarely shop for a specific recipe and we always eat different things. We even often start off cooking with one style of meal in mind, and it’s evolved into something entirely different by dinner time.

So we get a big box of random ingredients, with no real plan…and we ‘ready, steady, cook’ it. This is great for us, because it keeps our cooking fresh and our skills tested. So with launching our ‘Just Add Recipe’ boxes, we hope some other people enjoy our ‘make it up as you go along’ style.

So my challenge here is to tell you what I would make from one of our boxes.

So here’s how my mind would work. I will start by writing down what’s included in the one that’s pictured (I wouldn’t usually do this, I’d just have a nosey around the box that’s in front of me). But here goes!

2 packs of braising steak

1 whole chicken

1 pack of fish pie mix

2 packs of sausages

1 pack of Quinoa

1 pack of brown rice

4 large potatoes

1 bag of pasta

1 tin haricot beans

1 tin 6 bean mix

1 large jar passata

I tin chopped toms

1 bottle sauce shop spicy sauce

1 tin coconut milk

1 bag kale

1 large smoked garlic bulb

2 white onions

2 red onions

1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green pepper

2 turnips

2 courgettes

4 carrots

4 flat mushrooms

2 vines cherry tomatoes

1 bunch rosemary

1 cabbage

1 smoked cheddar

2 parsnips

1 fennel

1 lemon

1 broccoli

So here’s the meals I’d make.

1. Fish pie with coconut milk served with stir fried kale

So my main priority would be to use the fish first, so it’s fresh. Fish pie it is. This would use the fish pie mix, a white onion, a couple of cloves of smoked garlic, the coconut milk, 2 of the large potatoes, the lemon and the bag of kale

2. Slow cooked beef Chilli

I much prefer using braising streak for a Chilli in stead of minced beef, and cooking it all day. This meal would use the braising steak, a red onion, a couple of cloves of smoked garlic, the haricot beans, jar of passata, a red and green pepper, a courgette and some of the brown rice.

3. Spicy beef & bean pasta bake

As the beef Chilli would leave us with leftovers, I’d use the rest to mix with pasta, top with some of the smoked cheese and bake. An improvised pasta bake!

4. Roast Chicken with Mash, cabbage and roast veg

This meal would use the chicken, the remaining potatoes, the cabbage, the carrot, parsnip, turnip and half of the rosemary.

5. Chicken Quinoa Risotto

As we would have a fair amount of leftover chicken from the roast, I’d make it into something like this. This would use the rest of the chicken, some of the Quinoa, some of the sauce shop sauce, a couple of cloves of smoked garlic, an onion, half of the cherry tomatoes, the last courgette and some more of the smoked cheddar.

6. Oven baked sausages and roasted veg with tomato pasta

This would use the sausages,fennel, chopped tomatoes, some more of the smoked garlic, a yellow pepper and the rest of the rosemary, along with some more of the pasta.

7. So this is the day I love. The day where some truly remarkable creations are born. Or the day when you have something hideous! It’s the ‘what’s left?’ day!

In this instance I have the following things left:

Some Quinoa

some rice

6 bean mix

Some sauce shop sauce

Some smoked garlic

A red onion

Flat mushrooms

Broccoli

Some smoked cheese

Cherry tomatoes

So what I would do in this instance is put the rice in the cupboard and use all the rest to make a smoky, spicy Quinoa, bean and veg type Chilli. I’d probably have some sausages left over from yesterday that I’d cut up and throw in too. This meal does not have a name and will either be awesome of disgusting. But I love the lottery!

So what do you think to how I’d use this box? I’d love to hear your ideas. I love this type of cooking and couldn’t wait until I got a different box with different ingredients next week, how about you? Or do your family always have set meals on set days? I’d love to hear how you cook, please do get in touch!