Month: August 2012

Going Bananas!

Banana, Pecan and Caramel Cake

Winter is finally over in Jozi – thank heavens for that!  The weather has changed from bitterly cold winter to warm summer in just a few short days.  It feels  like the good times have finally returned after a longer than usual absence.

We have been tossing out a fair bit of fruit during the last week.  Everything ripens much faster and that’s one of my few troubles with the warm weather.  Avocados, pineapples and mainly bananas are just some of the problem fruits in my home.  The bananas became a really big problem when my lovely son, Rushil, rushed out of the car clutching his latest Star Wars stickers instead of the bananas in the boot.  Two days later, they were pitch black and squishy.  My heart sank and then I yelled, ‘Banana Bread’!  The softer the banana, the better the bake!

I normally just buy a loaf of banana bread, it’s usually a cheap item, sometimes even under ten rands.  It’s a no brainer to pick up a loaf with your shopping, and enjoy it fresh that day, or toasted with a cup of coffee over the next few days.  The only trouble with this lazy option is that I find the quality of store bought banana bread varies greatly, and the more expensive ones are often the most disappointing. My blackened bananas gave me the motivation I needed to finally make a few banana inspired bakes of my own.

I have always loved banana bread, but about a year ago, Rob went out shopping while we were at the Drakensberg and came back with a heavenly banana CAKE!   I decided to give my own version a bash, with caramel sauce and roasted pecans.  I prefer the cake when I am looking for something more decadent than the heavier banana bread.

The aroma of banana cake or bread baking in the oven is just heavenly.  The cinnamon, nutmeg and warm buttery smells waft through the house melting everyone’s resistance including my lovely neighbours.  Michelle Theodosiou was kind enough to lend me a loaf tin….mine has gone awol and I paid her back in banana bread and caramel banana cake.  She has asked if she can lend me any other cooking implements!

We are all banana’d out for now,  but here are the recipes for some delicious bakes…

Home made banana bread

Banana Bread

Makes one loaf


2 eggs

250ml brown sugar (I used the Spar brand in the carton)

200ml mashed banana

45oml cake flour

5ml baking powder

5ml bicarbonate of soda

2,5ml ground nutmeg

5ml ground cinnamon

125g butter, melted

Here’s how:

Place the eggs in a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric beater.

Gradually add the sugar and continue whisking.

When the eggs are light and fluffy, add the mashed banana to the mixture.

Beat until well combined.

Sift the dry ingredients into the egg and banana mixture.

Mix well until all the ingredients are well combined.

Pour in the melted butter and beat again until well combined.

Spoon the batter into a greased and lined 23cm loaf tin.

Bake for 60 minutes in a pre heated oven at 170 degrees celsius.

Leave the cake in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

Serve while warm with butter.

This can also be kept for up to two days and served toasted.

Banana Pecan and Caramel Cake

Makes one 24cm bundt cake.


185g butter, at room temperature

150g castor sugar

3 large eggs

550ml self raising flour

2,5ml bicarbonate of soda

300ml mashed banana

75ml full cream milk

Icing sugar, to lightly dust cake

For the sauce:

100ml Nestle Caramel Treat

100ml fresh cream

Pecan nuts, to serve

Here’s how:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Grease the baking tin with butter and then dust the tin with cake flour.

Shake the excess flour off by turning the tin upside down and tapping gently.

Place the butter into a mixing bowl and whisk with a hand-held beater.

Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy.

Beat the eggs in one at a time with a level teaspoon of the measured flour.

Sift the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and stir well to combine.

Add the mashed banana and pour in the milk.

Mix well to combine.

Almost ready for the oven

Spoon the mixture into the bundt tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool slightly before turning it out on a wire rack.

Dust the cool cake with icing sugar.

For the sauce:

Heat the cream in a small pan.

Whisk the caramel treat into the cream and simmer gently until the sauce thickens.

Spoon the warm sauce over the cake and garnish with pecan nuts.


Quick and Easy Paella

Quick and Easy Paella

I have a confession….I visited  Helen Hicks at Rock Shandy a few years ago.  Rob had been friends with Tony and Helen Hicks for decades but it was the first time I had met them.  It was my birthday weekend so I decided to push my luck and asked her if I could borrow her fabulous star serving spoon!  I don’t know what cam over me but I just had to have it….so here I am two and a half years later – I still haven’t returned the spoon!  Helen is now one of my besties…the only trouble is I may have to borrow the spoon for a few more years.

A large pot of paella is like something that jumps up and screams ‘Let’s celebrate!’.  I love the smoked spanish Safinter paprika…it has the same beautiful bright hue of traditional paprika but much sexier!  Prepare the rice and place the pan (the new AMC range does come with steel handles) in a warm oven….add the seafood only when you are ready to serve.

Oh…and a quick word about the wine….feel free to leave it out….it tastes just as good without it!

Quick and Easy Paella

Serves 6


8 chicken thigh fillets

Flour, to dust chicken thighs
300g cleaned Falklands calamari, sliced
800g butterflied prawns, de-veined
Handful of thinly sliced red and yellow peppers
Sunflower oil to grill

50ml sunflower oil
7,5ml cumin seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 – 4 green chillies, finely chopped
4 sprigs thyme
15ml smoked Safinter paprika
4 tomatoes, blanched and chopped
100ml white wine, optional
2 stock cubes
250ml frozen peas
250ml boiling water
Salt to season
Black pepper to season
1000ml cooked Basmati Rice
Lemon wedges, to serve

Here’s how:

Dust the chicken thighs with flour and shake away the excess.
Heat a skillet on medium and pour in a little oil.
Place the chicken thigh fillets on the skillet and fry until golden brown.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Saute the peppers for a few seconds and set aside.

Heat 50ml sunflower oil in a large thick bottomed pot.
Fry the cumin seeds until they begin to sizzle.
Add the onion and saute until translucent.
Add the garlic, green chillies and thyme.
Saute until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the paprika and saute for a few seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes, wine and stock cubes.
Simmer until sauce reduces by a third.
Place the browned chicken thighs into the sauce and add the frozen peas.
Layer the cooked rice over the chicken.
Pour the water over the rice and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Simmer the chicken and rice on a low heat.

To prepare the seafood:
Season the prawns and calamari with salt and black pepper.
Heat a large, thick bottomed pan and cook the butterflied prawns with a little sunflower oil until they change colour.
When the prawns are almost cooked through, remove from the pan.
Reheat the pan and drizzle a little sunflower oil over.
Add the sliced calamari and saute until it changes colour.
Remove the slices from the pan and set aside.

When the moisture has evaporated, scatter the cooked prawns, calamari and peppers over the paella rice.
Leave covered for a minute or two so the flavours infuse.
Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Season the paella with black pepper and garnish with coriander.
Toss the paella lightly before serving.
Serve with lemon wedges.

Yudhika’s Tips:

My favourite paprika is called Smoked Safinter Paprika…it smells heavenly!  Try your local deli – I as always am lucky enough to live near a Spar that stocks it!!!

Cook the seafood only when you are ready to serve.

Check the seasoning before adding salt because the stock cubes have a high salt content.

Omit the wine and add more water if you prefer.
Adjust the green chilli according to taste.
Use a 400g tin tomatoes instead of fresh ones.
Always use cold rice for this recipe to prevent the grains from becoming sticky.

Contact AMC cookware for more details on their latest products –

Curried Lamb Knuckles –

Curried Lamb Knuckles

There is no downside to cooking a Lamb Curry – its hearty and delicious and tastes even better the next day.  If I was a cut of lamb….I would be a knuckle….its got it all.  Tender meat, a bone that adds flavour to the sauce not to mention the marrow.

I don’t visit a stand alone butchery….my favourite butcher is Mr Pat from Broadacres Superspar.  He reminds me of growing up in Isipingo and visiting a butcher and specifying exactly what you want.  Whether its trimming lamb chops to perfection or slicing the knuckles to the exact size…he is a superspar….errr….I mean superstar.  Mr Pat is an old school butcher and such a gentleman (he takes off his cap every time he greets me)…from the days when meat was not pre-packaged and perfect….

I use my AMC electric pan to cook lamb – its perfect for slow cooking lamb and the food can be kept warm for ages.  After the water is added, I reduce the setting and forget about it for a good 2 hours.  Slow cooking is the best way to get the lamb meltingly tender.



Here is my recipe for Curried Lamb Knuckles….




Serves 6




50ml sunflower oil
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large bay leaf
5ml cumin seeds (jeera)
1 large onion, finely chopped
7,5ml coarse salt
15ml crushed ginger
10ml crushed garlic
15ml red chilli powder
12,5ml roasted ground coriander (dhania powder)
7ml roasted ground cumin (jeera powder)
2,5ml turmeric
1,2kg lamb knuckles
2 tins butter beans, drained
1 tomato, blanched and chopped
5ml garam masala
2 sprigs curry leaves
Fresh coriander, to garnish
Here’s how:
Heat oil in a large, thick bottomed pot.  Fry the cinnamon sticks and bay leaf until fragrant.  Sprinkle in the cumin seeds and when they begin to crackle, add the finely chopped onion.  Stir in the salt and saute until the onion pieces turn a light golden brown.  Stir in the crushed ginger and garlic.
Remove the pot from the heat and then add the red chilli powder, ground cumin, ground coriander and turmeric. Stir for a few seconds and then add the lamb knuckles.  Return the post to the heat.  Stir fry the lamb knuckles in the onion and spices until it begins to stick and brown.
Pour in boiling water to cover the knuckles and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes or until soft and tender.
Pour in more water if necessary.
Add the butter beans, and chopped tomato only when the lamb is tender.  Simmer for 5 minutes on a low heat until the tomato has softened and formed a thick sauce.
Add more boiling water if necessary.  Sprinkle in the garam masala and curry leaves.
Garnish with fresh coriander.


Yudhika’s Tips

If you are lucky enough to be near the Broadacres Superspar, you can order your meat from Mr Pat on 011 540 1500.

Leg of lamb can be used instead of knuckles although it tends to be a bit more dry.

Lentils can be used instead of butter beans.
Adjust the red chilli powder according to your taste.

Salt is added to the onion because it speeds up the browning of the onion and cuts down the initial cooking time.

Visit the AMC cookware website… for more information on their cookware units.

A shy roast chicken – perfect for the cold snap!

ImageIts so cold out…I can’t believe that there were little snowflakes in Jozi yesterday.  When you are that cold, comfort food is the answer.

Tender, juicy roast chicken, delicious home cooked casseroles and a few home bakes might just take the edge off.

As for me, I was lucky enough to stay in bed, dreaming of food to prepare for my family…..

Here is my recipe for Masala Roast Chicken…..

Serves 4


1,2kg whole chicken

Salt to season

10ml Curry Me Home red chilli powder

5ml Curry Me Home Ground Cumin

5ml Curry Me Home Ground Coriander

1 large lemon, juiced

75g Spar soft butter

40ml chopped coriander

4 sprigs thyme

6 cloves garlic, crushed

2 green chillies, pounded

Lemon wedges, to serve

Here’s how:

Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with absorbent paper towel.

Place the chicken on a chopping board with the breast side facing up.

Press down on the breastbone with the heel of your hand twice.

Turn the chicken over and cut along either side of the breast bone with poultry scissors.

Discard the breast bone and make a few slashes on the thighs and drumsticks.

Season the chicken with salt.

Sprinkle the red chilli, ground cumin and coriander over the chicken.

Rub the spices over.

Combine the butter with the coriander, fresh thyme, garlic and pounded chilli.

Lift up the chicken skin on the breast and rub the half butter mix under.

Rub the remaining butter over the chicken flattie.

Place the chicken in a ziploc bag and pour the lemon juice in.

Seal the bag and leave the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Place the chicken on a roasting pan and roast at 180 degrees celsius for 45 minutes.

The juices should run clear when the chicken is done.

Leave the chicken to rest in the roasting pan for about ten minutes before carving.

Serve with lemon wedges.



Yudhika’s tips:


The chicken should be at room temperature before it is roasted.

I use coriander stalks to flavour the butter as it has more flavour.

Free range chicken is always on my shopping list – they taste so much better!

Curry Me Home spices are available at select Superspars around Jozi.