Wednesday, August 27, 2008

full of beans

often seen at picnics, get-togethers, potluck dinners and bbq's, bean salads are popular because they keep well and are very simple to make. they are also very inexpensive, can be made the night before (they should be to improve flavours!), and do not deteriorate quickly as do many other salads.

there really aren't any hard & steadfast rules for making a bean salad — it is essentially just a mix of your favourite beans, vegetables and salad dressing. the only real rule is to let the salad marinate for a few hours so the vegetables and beans can absorb the flavours of the marinade you are using. i tend not to go too heavy on the vegetables and prefer a balanced dressing, and not one which is highly acidic.

served in small portions, the following will stay good for at least a full week. the salad tastes best served at room temperature. if the flavours have faded a bit over the following days, you can perk things up by adding a bit more of "this and that" before serving.

marinated bean salad

makes enough for 6 - 8 people


19 oz can mixed beans (or your fave)

1/4 - 1/2 large green pepper
2 - 3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1/8 - 1/4 red onion
4 - 6 tbsp corn

2 - 3 tbsp olive oil
2 -3 tbsp vinegar (reg white or apple cider)
1 -2 tbsp honey*
1/4 tsp each garlic & onion powder (or 1 clove chopped garlic)
1/4 tsp salt - or more
1/8 tsp black pepper

chopped parsley or coriander (optional)

*can use brown rice syrup (vegan) or regular sugar also.


drain and rinse the beans and set aside in a strainer so all the water runs off.

meanwhile, prepare the vegetables: thinly slice the green pepper and red onions, chop the sun dried tomatoes and measure out the corn. place the vegetables in a bowl.

add or change the vegetables as you like. some people typically add cooked green (haricot) beans as a standard.

add the drained beans to the vegetables and then add the dressing ingredients. mix everything together and add the parsley or coriander if using.

let the salad marinate for a few hours on the counter. the cold of the fridge tends to slow the absorption process so let it marinate first.

simple, quick and easy


Sunday, August 17, 2008

banana business

it goes without saying that there are probably a million or more recipes for banana breads around — everyone having his/her own favourite version. banana bread is something which i only really make whenever i have bananas that are fully ripe or over-ripened and while it's not an item i'd runnnn to the kitchen to bake on a regular basis, it is one of those staple kind of any-time-of-the-day snacking cakes, good for mid morning coffee breaks or late night kitchen raids which i do enjoy baking a few times a year.

the following recipe, which comes from a friend, is as particularly good as it is surprising since there are no dairy products in it or is there very much fat to speak of. in fact, it only uses 1/3 c of oil for a whole loaf. most of the moisture is provided by the bananas themselves and the honey content. the loaf will stay perfectly good for up to 5 or 6 days, if well-wrapped. it can be sliced and frozen for longer keeping if you like.

if you're organized, this recipe shouldn't take much time at all to throw together. having things premeasured and the baking pan ready saves you a lot of time. in terms of ingredients,
i've added pecans and chocolate chips to the recipe; you can use either, both or none at all and just serve it plain. if you don't have pecans, you can use chopped walnuts. the recipe also uses part whole wheat flour — so, if you're thinking, "yuck!", don't ..... it's quite the opposite. it's healthier and tastes just as good as using only all purpose flour.

no nonsense banana bread

makes 1 loaf


1 c wholewheat + 3/4 c AP flour (or 1 3/4 c all purpose flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

2 large bananas, very ripe (or 3 small-ish ones)
2 large eggs (or egg replacement)

1/3 c vegetable oil
1/3 c honey (or brown rice syrup)
1/2 c (soft) brown sugar, packed


1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 - 1/2 c chocolate chips or chopped chocolate


in large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and soda and salt. set aside.

peel and mash the bananas in another bowl. add the eggs and mix all together well.

in another bowl, mix together the oil, honey and brown sugar. it is easiest to measure the oil first and then the honey - it will slip right out of the measuring cup. at this point, you can mix this into the eggs and banana mixture or keep it separate. either way works. just make sure there are no hard bits of brown sugar (that won't dissolve) as you want the mixture to be uniform. if your brown sugar is not fully soft, you can microwave it (covered) for 15 to 20 seconds first to soften it up.

measure out the nuts and chocolate chips, if using.

before mixing everything together, preheat your oven to 325F and well grease a regular sized loaf pan (approx 8" x 5").

mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine until all is blended together. do not overmix.

add the nuts and chocolate chips and pour into your greased pan (or muffin pan).

bake at 325 F for approx. 1 1/4 hrs or until the center is cooked -- test with a toothpick.

let cool for at least 20 min before removing.

stays good for several days and can be sliced and frozen.