Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

I’ll bet you all get tired of hearing about how frequently I find over-ripe blackened bananas in my kitchen, but unfortunately it’s a common occurrence. Surely I can’t be the only person who experiences this on a fortnightly basis, so what do you all do with your over-ripe bananas?

One of the best ways I find inspiration for my blog is by looking at what ingredients need used up in my kitchen and developing a recipe around them, so when I was given a pack of leftover marzipan by my mother-in-law recently I figured it might be nice to use up in some baking. In the bookshop that I work in we sell a book called The Flavour Thesaurus, a fantastic book which tells you what flavours work well with others. Sadly I don’t own a copy of this book, but I’m quite good at imagining what flavours marry well, so when I thought of banana and marzipan together, in my mind the natural ingredient to add to the mix to complete the triad was chocolate. Thankfully, as these muffins demonstrated, I can trust my instincts!

This recipe for chocolate banana marzipan muffins is a winner in my book because as the marzipan cooks it melts through the chocolate banana muffins to create little pockets of sweetness that infuse the surrounding cake with the delicate flavour of almond. As a result, you’ve got a deliciously moist muffin that’s the perfect blend of cocoa and banana flavoured cake base with the added surprise of almond marzipan chunks throughout it. That’s pretty damn tasty in my book.

Ingredients:

50g ground almonds

175g gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

100g dark brown sugar

1 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3 tbsp cocoa

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

120g marzipan (rolled into small balls)

3 over-ripe bananas (mine weighed 330g in total)

125ml sunflower oil

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay out your muffin cases in a muffin tray. (I’m particularly enamoured with the Jamie Oliver muffin tray my Mum got for me recently.)

Measure your bananas, oil, eggs and vanilla extract into a mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl measure all of your dry ingredients.

Break the marzipan up into small pieces and add them to the dry ingredients, mixing them through so they become coated.

Add the wet mixture into the dry and mix thoroughly.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and bake for 25 to 30 mins or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

Leave to cool.

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

Chocolate Banana Marzipan Muffins by The Fat Foodie

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Stuffed Aubergine Parcels

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

I bought an aubergine the other day and I’ve been waiting for inspiration to strike ever since. The problem was that although there are plenty of aubergine recipes that just ask you to chop it up and add it into stews and tagines, I really wanted to showcase (and try to celebrate) the vegetable itself. That’s when the lightbulb switched on and I realised that the robust texture of the aubergine flesh would be ideal for making stuffed aubergine parcels.

I’ve written before about how I don’t think aubergines are a very exciting vegetable, but I think I might have changed my mind after using them in this meal. The aubergine slowly cooks down to produce the silky soft, creamy texture that I’ve read others applauding so loudly about and it’s further enhanced by the presence of the rich, tangy tomato ragu.

I really enjoyed the large amount of vegetables I used in this dish and I think an argument could be made that, unlike many other recipes which include meat in them, the sausagemeat wasn’t the star of the show. It’s just there to add a meaty richness to the meal. Also, although I made my stuffed aubergine parcels with sausagemeat I think you could make an awesome vegetarian version by using strips of halloumi cheese to stuff the parcels with instead.

However you decide to make these stuffed aubergine parcels, I’ll guarantee you’ll love it. How could you not when you’ve got soft, silky aubergine wrapped around strips of sweet red and green peppers, smooth courgette slices, and rich well-seasoned sausagemeat that’s all coated in a thick tomato ragu and a crisp topping of grated parmesan. It’s a real winner in my book.

Ingredients:

1 aubergine (sliced into thin strips lengthways)

1 large courgette (sliced into thin strips lengthways)

1 red pepper (sliced into thin strips)

1 green pepper (sliced into thin strips)

12 green olives (halved)

50g dairy-free parmesan (or normal)

Ingredients for the sausage stuffing:

6 pork sausages (remove the skins)

1/2 tsp white ground pepper

A handful of fresh parsley (chopped finely)

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp asafoetida powder

To make the tomato ragu:

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 red chilli (finely chopped)

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp asafoetida

1 tsp dried oregano

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

Method:

Prepare your vegetables as directed.

Vegetables Prepared for the Stuffed Aubergine Parcels

Cook the slices of aubergine and courgette in the microwave so that they become soft.

Make the tomato ragu by putting the ragu ingredients into a microwavable jug and cooking in the microwave for 4 – 5 mins.

Place a strip of aubergine on your chopping board and add a slice of courgette on top. Add a lump of sausagemeat and some strips of green and red pepper before rolling up into parcels.

Repeat until all of the aubergine is used up. (If you have any vegetables left over then just add them to the tomato ragu.)

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Wrapped

Place the aubergine parcels in a casserole dish and pour over the tomato ragu before topping with the halved olives and parmesan cheese.

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Topped with Tomato Ragu

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Almost Ready to be Cooked

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels Ready to be Cooked

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins and then serve with a fresh green salad.

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

Stuffed Aubergine Parcels by The Fat Foodie

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Banana Rhubarb Cakes

Banana Rhubarb Cakes by The Fat Foodie

Rhubarb is abundant at the moment, not just in our gardens, but in the supermarkets too so I couldn’t resist using it again to bake a sweet treat. The tart nature of rhubarb needs a very sweet counterweight ingredient that makes its natural tartness sing and I can’t think of a better fruit that is bursting with natural sugars than over-ripe bananas. At first I wasn’t quite sure whether the flavour combination would work, but it most certainly does, producing banana rhubarb cakes that are just the right level of sweet and sharp.

The banana rhubarb cakes are also enhanced by the inclusion of some chopped strawberries I had at hand that needed to be used up. The strawberry is a nice addition to the mixture because the fruit naturally breaks down during the cooking process to become soft, sweet and jammy fruity little nuggets that are peppered throughout the cake batter.

I thought I’d take these banana rhubarb cakes into work tomorrow and had originally planned to just bake one large cake in a standard cake tin, but I’ve noticed that when I take a whole cake into work my colleagues seem to be reluctant to cut a slice for themselves, whereas if I bring in individual cakes they get munched quickly. (Is it the politeness factor or do the cakes simply look more alluring as individual cupcakes?) Taking this into consideration, I baked my banana rhubarb cakes in my silicone bundt cases, but it’s not essential because they’d be fine baked in normal cupcakes cases too.

This is a fairly easy cake recipe to make. Aside from letting the chopped rhubarb and strawberries macerate in the sugar, cinnamon and ginger, it’s simply a case of mixing the wet and dry ingredients together and then spooning the mix into cupcake or bundt cases. Although it’s simple, it’s still a deliciously complex-flavoured cake though, seeing sharp rhubarb being tempered by the sugary-sweet over-ripe banana, moist little chunks of strawberry and a zingy lime icing drizzle. A perfect cake to celebrate early summer’s bounty.

Ingredients:

150g of gluten-free flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

1 tsp xanthan gum

140g white sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 eggs

2 over-ripe bananas

125ml vegetable oil

50ml rice milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the rhubarb:

2 – 3 cups of rhubarb (chopped into pretty small chunks)

1 cup of chopped strawberries (chopped into pretty small chunks)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

100g white sugar

For the icing:

1 tbsp lime juice

1/4 tsp green food colouring

6 heaped tbsps of icing sugar

Method:

Cut your rhubarb and strawberries into small chunks and place in a large bowl. Scatter the white sugar, cinnamon and ginger over the fruit, stir well and leave to one side.

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay your cupcake cases into a muffin tray or place your silicone bundt cases onto a couple of baking trays.

Measure your bananas and wet ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and the fruit and mix well.

Spoon the cake mixture into the cake cases and bake for 30 -35 mins. (Ordinarily I’d say that when a skewer pushed into the centre of the cake comes out clean it’s done, but the fruit will be very moist and will possibly give a false result, so just trust your instincts on this one!)

Remove from the oven and leave to cool before drizzling with the lime icing.

Banana Rhubarb Cakes by The Fat Foodie

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Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

I’m a huge fan of pastry, particularly puff pastry because it’s such a versatile base ingredient upon which to base a meal around. I tend to keep a block of it in the freezer for whenever inspiration strikes so when I looked in the fridge the other day and saw that there were a number of summer vegetables that needed to be used up I decided to make a tomato and mozzarella tart with them.

Puff pastry is a very cheap way to make a tasty meal that can be topped with loads of delicious ingredients and it works particularly well with soft, sweet roasted vegetables, such as tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines and the likes. I’ve recently discovered (and fallen in love with) jars of roasted red peppers. Although they’re on the expensive side to buy from supermarkets, I’ve found them to be fairly cheap in discount stores (such as B&M and Poundstretcher’s). They’re gorgeous stuffed into sandwiches or served on the side of salads, but I’ve also been adding them onto pizzas because their natural sweetness goes really well with creamy, melted mozzarella.

The beauty of this tomato and mozzarella tart is that you can add any other ingredients you fancy. I’ll bet some chopped bacon or smoked ham would be lovely on top of it or some shredded pieces of roast chicken. I dare say a few strips of smoked salmon would be outstanding on it too, especially if you served the tart with a fresh green salad and a cold, crisp glass of white wine.

This tomato and mozzarella tart is a celebration of summer vegetables. It’s a crisp, flaky puff pastry base that’s topped with walnut and basil pesto and adorned with a plethora of delicately roasted tomatoes, courgettes and black olives which are nestled underneath a crisp blanket of grated creamy mozzarella. It’s simply an excellent dish for a summer lunch or dinner.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

500g block of gluten-free puff pastry (or normal puff pastry)

2 large tomatoes (sliced)

1 courgette (sliced)

1 red pepper (jar)

8 black olives (halved)

Freshly ground black pepper

50g grated dairy-free mozzarella (or normal mozzarella)

For the walnut pesto:

15g fresh basil

40g walnuts

30g sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Line a flat baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry on top of the greaseproof paper and use a plate to cut a large circle out. Cut a second circle that is slightly smaller than the outer circle, leaving a gap of around 1 cm around the edge.

The rolled out puff pastry base.

Lay the puff pastry circle onto your baking tray.

Make your pesto by blending the pesto ingredients together (I used my Nutribullet) and spread the pesto over the puff pastry base.

Spreading the walnut pesto over the puff pastry base.

Lay your tomato and courgette slices on top of the tart and add freshly ground black pepper.

Laying the tomatoes and courgettes over the tart.

Add the pieces of sliced red pepper and black olives.

Adding the red peppers and olives.

And top with grated mozzarella before baking in the oven for around 30 mins.

Topping the tart with grated mozzarella before baking.

Once the vegetables are soft and the pastry is cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

Tomato and Mozzarella Tart by The Fat Foodie

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Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core (makes 12)

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

A few days ago I fancied baking something to fill the kitchen cake tin because it was looking decidedly bare. After giving it some thought and having a good rifle through the kitchen cupboards I decided to make muffins. I had some brown bananas which needed used up soon, there was a peanut butter jar which had only a little bit left in it and I had half a pack of walnuts at hand, so I decided to bake some banana walnut muffins with a peanut butter core.

Muffins are incredibly easy to make because, to a large extent, they simply involve measuring out all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and whisking until it’s combined. There’s no creaming of separate ingredients involved or anything like that. I’ve never made muffins with an interior surprise, but the peanut butter worked really well. I’m not sure if smooth peanut butter would have been quite as successful because I think the crunchy peanut butter definitely helps keep the core together and the crunch of the peanuts goes well with the crunchy walnuts too.

A while ago my Mum treated me to a Jamie Oliver muffin tin and although I wouldn’t ordinarily buy something purely because it’s got celebrity endorsement, I have to admit that this muffin tin is fantastic due to the depth of the muffin sections which helps to keep the shape of the muffins as they rise. Well done, Mr Oliver.

This recipe makes a lovely soft, moist banana flavoured muffin with an inner core of crunchy peanut butter that’s complemented by the flavour of the walnuts. They’re ideal for accompanying a mid-morning cuppa or as a tasty after dinner treat. Actually, they’re pretty good at any time of the day!

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Ingredients:

200g gluten-free plain flour (I use Dove’s Farm G/F Plain Flour)

150g dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

150ml vegetable oil

3 large bananas (my bananas weighed in at 320g)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp xanthan gum

150g chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla extract

120g crunchy peanut butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Lay out your 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin.

Measure all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk until it’s all combined.

Divide the mixture equally between the 12 muffin cases and (if you like) top with a walnut half.

Bake for 30 to 35 mins and leave to cool before munching.

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

Banana Walnut Muffins with a Peanut Butter Core by The Fat Foodie

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