Banana Bread- by special request!

After posting a picture in

#project365 3/12.

I was asked if I would share my recipe for banana bread, so superamazingmum, here you go!
This is a really easy recipe and one that I use regularly. I adapted it several years ago from a recipe that was meant for a bread machine. Even those who don’t cook have managed this in the past as it is so simple. It keeps week and can even be frozen – I freeze per wrapped slices for the kids lunch boxes and just get them out the night before.
It’s also a great way to use up those old bananas…..you know, the ones that are going black that no-one wants to eat? For this recipe, I find the riper they are the better so don’t throw them away.

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So, here’s what you need:

225g self raising flour
1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt ( I left this out when the kids were small )
75g butter or margarine
150g castor sugar
1 medium egg
450g bananas without skin (4 or 5 depending on size)

Optional extras:

Apricot jam
Banana chips

I use the all in one method – quick and easy!
Place flour, bicarbonate soda, salt, butter, sugar and egg into bowl and whisk with and electric whisk until smooth.
Using a fork and a chopping board, roughly mash or squash the bananas. Add to mixture and whisk further until there are no more lumps.
Spoon into a greased loaf tin, mini loaf tins or muffin cases.
Cook at 180-200c until skewer comes out clean – about 20 mins for muffins and 40-50 mins for the loaf.
Enjoy hot, or leave to cool.
Mine rarely lasts longer than a day but can be kept for a few days in a cool place or frozen for use later on!

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If you want to use the optional extras, leave the bread to cool for 5 mins. Warm jam in a saucepan or microwave and brush glaze over the top of the bread and then sprinkle with banana chips.

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Why not try other toppings too? Squirty cream, vanilla butter cream, melted chocolate, cream cheese icing or even custard
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If you make this, why not come back and leave a comment to let me know how you have got on? Go on, you know you want to……

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VIP’s coming to visit!

I have some very exciting news! On Monday, Raymond Blanc, Jamie Oliver, Henry Dimbleby, John Dimbleby Leon and Prince Charles came to visit my lesson and observe me teach……
It was obviously the highlight of my career and quite possibly of my life!
Preparations and practice runs began about three weeks before hand, and there were lots is meetings and discussions about how the day would run. My class had trial cooking sessions and fine tuned their recipes in order to make them perfect for the day.
When the morning arrived, I was confident that we were prepared and ready for our guests. There was a strict timetable with our guests being given different slots, but we were on our best behaviour at all times just incase things didn’t go to plan!
Having met Matt Baker of One Show and Countryfile fame, we had already had a trial run…. It’s just that it happened to be in front of the TV cameras ( gulp!!!). Things went amazingly well, and to plan, and the crew were really impressed with the boys and their cooking so we were on the right track! It was a bit scary when Matt Baker interviewed me though and they stuck a camera in my face ( I’m not really one for pictures, let alone TV ).
Anyway….. In at the crack of dawn Monday morning, getting ingredients ready- I’d been in the day before to get everything else set up! All that was left for me to do was teach and cook with the boys. So off we went, making starters, main courses and desserts.

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So, our first visitor of the morning was Michelin starred chef Raymond Blanc. He was fantastic….so full of passion and such an inspiration. After lots of kisses on the cheeks, he was off tasting boys food and commenting, suggesting, helping and sharing advice. He was easy going and friendly and agreed to pose for photos too! He was saying how important Food education and cooking is, and commended me on the work that I was doing and the fantastic standard of cooking that was going on in the class.

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The second group of visitors were also very important…. They included CEO’s and other “top dogs” from Food For Life, School Food Matters, Organic Society, top supermarkets….. We also had Henry Dimbleby Leon who has been appointed by the Government to review school dinners and John Dimbleby Leon too! It was surreal having more famous chefs in the room! Food was being presented at this stage, and to our surprise, Raymond Blanc returned. He had escaped from his group tour and found his way back to Food where he was handing out samples of the cooked food by the boys and encouraging everyone to try it! This was an honour…. for such an amazing chef to take the time to return and encourage the students and promote their cooking and learning was truly unbelievable.

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By now, the classroom was really buzzing- the boys were on a high and cooking for their life! Not long now and Prince Charles and Jamie Oliver would be along…. As the time drew closer, the room turned quieter as the boys started to get a little nervous! I was getting that way too….. Remembering to address the Prince of Wales as your Royal Highness and then having him handed over to you is a big responsibility!!! Not to mention the film crew….
Well as time was drawing near, there was suddenly an onslaught of people into my room- all with long lens cameras and microphones, TV cameras etc. the paps had arrived…. And there was about 15 of them! We ushered them into the corner of the room and knew that HRH and Jamie would be following shortly- along came the butterflies in my tummy, the hot sweating feeling and a sudden urge to goto the loo! Deeeeeep breaths I told myself- in……. And…… Out! They’re here!
I welcomed HRH and Jamie Oliver and the next 15 minutes went past so quickly. I showed the future King of England ( how amazing is that!) around the room, and introduced him to the boys and let them explain what they were cooking. I had a chat with Jamie about Food Education and the importance of cooking as a life skill. I was directed(!) by the film crew and cameras were going twenty to the dozen- flash, flash, flash….. Over here please, Look this way! Wow….. A small insight into the world of celebrity and fame…… What a moment! Matt Baker also returned, so I was also being asked by the crew to talk to Matt in the background shots of HRH touring the classroom ( don’t mind if I do!)

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Then after HRH had talked to the boys and viewed their food, it was all over. You could almost feel everyone relax as the VIP’s and film crews left the room. The buzz of excitement was replaced with relief and even disbelief of what we had just experienced. This was most certainly a once in a life time opportunity and one that neither the boys or I will ever forget!

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This was such an amazing day, I cannot begin to describe the pride I felt, the excitement, the nerves, the enjoyment! I do know that I was exceptionally privileged to be part of such a momentous day, and I will have these memories, photos and of course, my blog as a reminder of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
The coverage of this visit was in lots of local and indeed national papers- you may have seen the photos and articles yourself! Jamie Oliver also mentioned on This Morning saying that “every parent deserved a school like this”. And there is more to come. The film footage is going to be part of a Countryfile episode to be shown sometime in February next year, so watch this space… You may see me on TV!

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On our best behaviour!

I haven’t blogged for a while because I have been so busy! I know that sounds like a poor excuse, but I have a very good reason- we have been preparing for some very important visitors.
On Thursday, Matt Baker of The One Show/Country file, came to visit our school. More importantly, he came along with his film crew to film my Year 11 Food lesson! How amazing is that…..the boys were cooking Masterchef style and were brilliant, creating some super dishes.

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Matt and his team spent about an hour and a half talking to the students about their food and what they were cooking. They were so impressed that they stayed on longer to capture images of their dishes…..and they even interviewed me!!!! It was a great opportunity for me to promote our school blog and our Twitter account…. http://www.foodpresstogophotos.wordpress.com and @foodtectogo.
The crew were brilliant, moving around the classroom and capturing their shots without getting in the way, and Matt Baker was great fun- talking and joking with the boys and even tasting their food.

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It was a once in a life time experience and great fun….. The boys were really impressed too!
And……. If that is not enough, I have more VIP’s visiting tomorrow- and yes that is plural, and no, you will never guess who they are! This is going to be THE most amazing experience EVER and I am quite possibly the luckiest person in the world!
I have spent most of the weekend preparing for the visit tomorrow, and I’m as ready as I will ever be….. Lets just hope the VIP’s appreciate my efforts- although I am sure they will!
Want to know who they are? You can take a guess if you like, but I will reveal all tomorrow!!!!!

Foodie Foto Friday

This week has been a real foody week for me! My Year 11 class were preparing for a visit from Matt Baker from The One Show/Countryfile….. The boys cooked Masterchef style and for 15 and 16 year olds their outcomes were amazing!!!

It’s Friday again already which means it’s time to post some yummy pictures of food and make us drool.
A great blog about all things cooking related!

The Crazy Kitchen

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The Oldies are the Goodies – My Great Granddad’s Bread Pudding!

As a child, one of my earliest memories was going to my Great Granddad’s on a Saturday lunchtime. My Great Gran and Granddad lived in a ground floor flat, and as soon as we walked up the path, you could smell the lovely aroma of freshly cooked bread pudding…usually still warm as we walked through the door! Sometimes we would have it on it’s own, sometimes it would be served with warm custard. We were always given some to take home to eat cold too.

Now when you look at bread pudding, you might think that it looks like a stodgy fruit cake, and you would be forgiven! But don’t let it’s appearance put you off! I don’t like fruit cake, but I LOVE bread pudding.

Traditionally, this was a wartime  recipe that used up old bread to save it being wasted, and although sometimes I buy bread, I would much rather make it using stale bread as it gives a much better outcome.

For several years I have tried to find a recipe that could replicate the one of my great granddads – some used suet, some used egg and milk, others used water but none of them could compare to the taste of the one that I was used to as a child. So you can imagine how happy I was, when talking to another family member one day, who told me that they had a copy of the original recipe! My copy of the recipe is one from a note book where only the key ingredients and main points of the method are written down, so I will try and give a little more detail.

So here it is…….in my opinion THE best bread pudding recipe ever! It is a very dark coloured pudding infused with warm spices and plenty of fruit!

6-8 slices of bread (preferably stale)

100g margarine

100g sugar (I prefer light brown)

1 egg

200g mixed fruit

2 tsp mixed spice

Soak the bread in water. Once soggy, squeeze the water out – I do this by hand as i find that it helps to break the bread up.

Cream together the fat and sugar.

Add the egg a little at a time to avoid curdling and mix.

Put in al lof the mixed fruit and spice, and mix well.

Add in the bread and mix until smooth.

Place into a greased and lined tin (this is the difficult bit, it took me ages to find the right size tin, but I found that a 24cm by 20 cm tin that is approx 4cm deep worked best).

Put into the oven at 160c (take down to 150c for a fan oven) or Gas Mark 2, and cook for approximately one and a half hours. It will be firm on top, but still soft. The pudding will not firm up until it has called!

Once it has cooled, transfer to a cooling rack (if it lasts that long – my family are already cutting chunks out of it while it is still warm!)  and leave to cool completely. Then slice into portions and store in an airtight container  I like to keep mine in the fridge!

If you fancy a change, I also add glace cherries and dried apricots for a luxurious fruity taste!

Why not have a go yourself and et me know what you think?

Ginger Bangs!!!

This has to be THE best biscuit recipe EVER! This is a superb recipe with ginger, a perfect all time favourite suitable for both the young and old. Make mini ones for the kids and larger ones for dunking in your tea…. Once you have had these, you will want them on a regular basis!

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This recipe definitely makes the perfect ginger biscuit, but can also be adapted to make lots of other flavours…. Leave out the ginger and you have a biscuits that is like a butter crunch, add chocolate chips and it’s like a crunchy Millie’s cookie! Add some cocoa with your chocolate chips and you have your very own double chocolate chip…. I’ve tried loads of flavours- smarties, oats and raisins, white chocolate and raspberry, whatever you fancy!!!
I make these at work, and they are gone before they’ve even had a chance to cool down…so many people have asked me for the recipe, that I thought I might as well blog it and share this amazing recipe with you all!

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My kids love making them at the weekends, and they keep really well in an airtight container. One batch of biscuit dough usually makes 12 big biscuits or 18 smaller ones. This is not a recipe that you can roll out and cut into shapes, it is much better if you roll the mixture into little balls and allow them to spread. And the best bit??? When they come out of the oven, you have to BANG the tray on the work top to knock out all of the air and make them crinkly….. Great if you’ve had a stressful day!!!
Why not try this recipe for yourself, I’d love to hear how you’ve got on. Or, maybe you have a perfect recipe of your own that you would like to share?

Busy Day…. Lots of Cake!

I’ve had a really busy day today and I’m glad that Half Term is here! I have not stopped……
I finished off and published a blog post this morning, then dropped my daughter off at my friends (she takes her to school) only to come back again because I had forgotten it was mufti day!!!! So after a quick change we went back again and then I was on my way to work.
Due to my little oversight, I arrived at work just in time to walk into an important meeting…..I’d been up two and a half hours and not a single drop of coffee had passed my lips – it would be another two hours before I got my first coffee of the day. I can tell you, I was not the happiest person to be around during this time!
After teaching two lessons, both with boys cooking, it was time for coffee and cake and another meeting! I gulped down the coffee and scoffed my cake ( I didn’t talk much at the meeting…. I didn’t have time) and then I was off again with another twenty five boys cooking biscuits!!
After a full on day of teaching, I came home to pick my daughter up from school, only for her to be invited to tea at a friends house! Making the most of my free time, my son and I popped down to the shops. On my return, I finished off cake number 1……

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Then it was onto cake number two. This was a tricky one, and I knew it was going to take some time to get it right. I had modelled the dolphin last week, but I had to put the filling in, ice and decorate the cake….. This was going to be the most difficult part! Anyway, half way through, I realised I needed more royal icing so I was off again to the shop to stock up on supplies. I eventually finished the cake at about quarter to ten, then had to clean up all the mess. Here is the finished cake:

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This was the first time that I had used royal icing for anything apart from fine detail and writing, and I’m really quite pleased with the end result!
I am also totally and utterly knackered and cannot tell you how pleased I am that it is Half Term…… A whole week to relax and enjoy myself,mark three sets of books, and two kids to look after and my OH that has man flu….. And did I tell you we are looking after our neighbours puppie for seven days????? Oh well, looks like it is going to be another busy week….. I’m off to hibernate!