Monthly Archives: May 2011

Banana-Nut Bread

I made another recipe from the Williams-Sonoma cookbook. This time it’s Banana-Nut Bread made with 3 very ripe bananas – one from my fridge and two from my neighbour’s freezer. 🙂 It’s the first time I’ve used frozen bananas and I must say, when they’re defrosted and peeled, they look highly unappealing! Thankfully, the flavour remains the same. This banana bread is soft but not cake-like and it makes a very good snack.

Banana-Nut Bread
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
3 very ripe bananas, coarsely mashed
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk (made it myself with whole milk and lemon juice)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground nutmeg (I used 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (or pecans or hazelnuts)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the mashed bananas and eggs and beat until smooth. Add the buttermilk and beat on low speed until just combined.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and nuts. Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and beat until just combined. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the loaf is dark golden brown and dry to the touch and the edges pull away from the pan sides, 55 – 60 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the centre should come out clean.

Let rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.


Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Baking, Food


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Stir-Fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce

I received a very nice belated birthday present from RC this weekend – The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. It is a beautiful book with more than 370 recipes. I love that there is a picture for every recipe and each page has, in the sidebar, a tip or a fact about one of the ingredients in that recipe. This gift came in perfect timing as I’ve lost all enthusiasm for cooking after a long holiday in Malaysia where good food was everywhere and easily obtainable!

My inaugural recipe from this book was Stir-fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce. It’s a Chinese recipe and it’s ironical that I’m learning to cook this dish from a Western cookbook. 😉 It’s not so much the seasoning to use but the steps in cooking the dish that I need to learn. This is a tasty dish, thanks to the fermented black beans. I didn’t care much for the taste of the pork (gamey) and I’ll make this dish with chicken next time.

Stir-Fried Pork in Black Bean Sauce
(Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Cookbook)
Makes 4 – 6 servings

3/4 lb (375g) pork tenderloin
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp plus 1/4 tsp sugar
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 1/2 tbsp fermented black beans, well rinsed
1 tbsp oyster sauce (use less if your oyster sauce is very salty)
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 slices fresh ginger
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 each small green and red bell pepper, cut into cubes
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
3 cups steamed white rice

Cut the pork into bite-size cubes. In a bowl, combine the pork, baking soda, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp white pepper, and 2 tbsp water and mix well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

To make the sauce, stir together the black beans, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1 tsp sugar, cornstarch, 1/8 tsp white pepper, and 1/4 cup water in a bowl. Set aside.

In a wok or large saute pan over high heat, heat 1 tbsp oil until almost smoking. Add the garlic and ginger and fry till fragrant, about 5 seconds. Add the onion and bell peppers and stir-fry until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the rice wine and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from the pan bottom. When the wine has nearly evaporated, transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

Remove the pork cubes from the marinade and place on paper towels to drain. Return the pan to high heat and add 1 tbsp oil when the pan is very hot. When the oil is hot, add the pork and stir-fry until it browns and turns opaque, about 3 minutes. Return the cooked vegetables, add the sauce and stir-fry rapidly until the sauce thickens and the mixture is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Transfer the pork mixture to a warmed platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs (optional), and serve with the rice.


Posted by on May 30, 2011 in Cooking, Food


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Wet and Wild Welcome

After being away for a month, we came home to Spring but a wet one. It rained the whole week we were back. It seems we have record-breaking rain this Spring. The cool air and cloudy skies didn’t help our jet lag too, we felt like sleeping all the time!

Then the skies cleared and the sun came out and we could see just how wild the backyard is. Downright ugly. Crab grass, dead grass and bald patches. I could cry. I hate it. My favorite daydream is of winning a contest where the prize is a free backyard makeover or free landscaping. I want a backyard that looks like a golf lawn with neat bonsai trees. Yeah, daydreaming is free.

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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Life