>Banana & Fig Muffins, Fish Chowder and Stewed Pork with Chestnuts and Black Mushrooms

>I have alot to get through for today’s blog, I am so excited because all these foods are my favourites (except for one) so lets get down to it.

I had some bananas ripening in the counter, turning black and I won’t eat it and my husband surely won’t eat it either so I decided to make some banana and fig muffins. The recipe that I used for this substitution was from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Food options – using his Blueberry Muffin recipe. I substituted alot of the ingredients with healthier choices and would bring down the carbohydrate and fat content down including the caloric count. So anyway, the ingredients are:

3 ripe bananas, mashed
5 figs, chopped
2 tbsp agave nectar
1 cup wholemeal flour
AND 1/2 cup bran, 1/2 cup oatbran, 1/2 cup steelcut oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1/2 cup olive oil
290ml skimmed milk
2 large eggs
a pinch of salt
So basically, what I did was substitute a whole load of sugar (1 cup of brown and cane sugar) with the sweetness from the bananas, figs and agave nectar. Natural sugars are better than refined sugars which cuts down the carbohydrates and calories. So, in the entirety, just mix all the ingredients together and bake for about 30min in the oven heated up to 190degC. Unfortunately I left mine sitting in the oven as the heat dissipated, which made the muffins sink down. But luckily, they taste fantastic. The figs and bananas go together really well and the figs give it a little crunch at almost every bite. I have mine with scoops of skimmed yoghurt and hubby has them with devon custard. This time around I persuaded him to get the low fat custard instead which he did reluctantly. I told him that he’ll be eating them semi-guilt free which worked!! I’m so glad he’s changing for the better.

On Thursday night, we finished the left over minestrone soup with some baked Sherri fish. Suffice to say that this isn’t my favourite meal of the week. I do not want to eat this dish again, therefore will not be making it again. To have them separately is good but not together!!! I will not put myself through the atrocity again, leaving fish chowder to those who like fish chowder! YUCK!!!! Not a nice beginning to the weekend!!! 😛

The weekend flew past, like always! It happens EVERY weekend! Darn it. My husband went for golf on Friday morning with his colleagues, so I had breakfast on the balcony, enjoying the silence. The construction workers get 1 day off a week and Fridays are the best time to enjoy the outdoors without all the banging and drilling, so I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a muffin, doused with yoghurt and banana and my book “Venetian Betrayal” by Steve Berry… ahhh, just lovely.

On Friday night, we went to Dubai Mall and enjoyed dinner at The Noodle Factory, I ordered Kung Pao Chicken and Sweet Chilli Eggplant and my husband ordered Seafood Udon with Curry Sauce. He also had Iced Tea and I had a very interesting drink, Lime Juice with Salt. Wanting to try new things, I ordered it. Lets say, I don’t recommend it to anyone. It was like drinking sea water! Could they put any more salt in there???? Ridiculous! The food overall was good, but they were all too tasty for my liking. Should have order still water instead, leaving me with my tongue hanging out from all the MSG they put in the dishes for the rest of the night. We enjoyed the rest of the evening walking around the mall.

On Saturday, we did our food shopping at Carrefour Express at Oasis Mall. It was a very nice environment, very quiet and pleasant. It’s a nice change from the hussle and bussle of the other larger hypermarts that are really busy during the weekend. We had a good quick shop, then proceeded to Organics for their 20% storewide discount. We got some poptarts (Apple Cinnamon, Blueberry and Cherry and Pomegranate), some pork and bread (Spelt Sour Dough). Before that we had lunch at the Organics Cafe. They were having their Saturday Brunch so we decided to try it out and lets say WE LOVED IT!!!!

The food there were gorgeous! Pity we couldn’t eat as much as we liked, our stomach’s were bursting by the end of the meal, there were:

Hot food – turkey and baby potato stew, salmon with herbs, chicken lollipop, hammour with peppers, briyani rice, pumpkin and quinoa quiche, asian stirfry vegetables and pumpkin and eggplant curry;
Salads – fresh mesclun salad, tomatoes, peppers, potato and egg, pasta with sundried tomatoes and olives and tuna salad;
Juice – fresh orange and apple juice with pulp!
Fruits – mix fruits;
Dessert – pecan pie, mocha and apricot bars, stewed pears and some others;
A cheese spread – gruyere, cheddar, gouda, cream cheese, feta, etc;
Breakfast spread – soy, rice, goat and cow’s milk, cereals, loaves and slices of assorted breads, english jams, butter spread;

I’m telling you, this is the best and healthiest buffet I’ve ever seen. The salmon was lovely, considering it costs about AED50-AED120 for salmon and the price of turkey here is absolutely ridiculous! Lets just say, we can’t afford turkey here! There was rye bread, whole grain bread, the entire buffet was just healthy and hopefully all organic. We will definitely go back there again when the families come over, it’s just so worth the price that we paid!!! I can just imagine my mom sitting there with a plateful of salmon and my mom-in-law enjoying the english jams and assorted breads with some delectable cheeses!! The a-la-carte menu was affordable and oh so healthy, breakfast, lunch, dinner, juices, etc were all just lovely!! Can’t wait to go back again!!!!! We came home with bellies so full, that we skipped dinner. What a great find!

Anyway, back to the d’liteful cravings of eleven06, I made stewed pork with chestnuts and black mushrooms for last night (and tonight’s) dinner. We got a pack of chestnuts from Carrefour last week and decided to make this dish. The chestnuts have to be cooked first by boiling them. I boiled them for about 1.5hrs on a medium heat and they turned out great! Out of the bunch of them, only a few were rotten so I was glad. The peeling and cleaning took me 1hr to do, leaving my hand achy and sore. But they were so sweet and soft which was worth it. I managed to save them in their whole state, only 1 crumbled.

The stew involved:
1kg of pork cubes
800g of chestnuts, cooked
15 black mushrooms, sliced
4 medium onions, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
6 tbsp of soy sauce
3 tbsp of black sauce
salt and pepper1. Stir fry the onion and garlic till soft and bruised;
2. Add in the pork and fry till cooked;
3. Stir in the black mushroom and pour in the liquid from the soaked mushrooms, and put in the sauces and seasonings;
4. Leave the pork to stew for about 1hr on low heat, top up with water as required;
5. Finally, carefully stir in the chestnuts. Don’t forget to taste! Make sure the pork’s nice and tender, so stew till you’re satisfied with it. Unlike me, I couldn’t wait to taste it so we had it with to do a little bit of chewing! 🙂

Serve with blanced broccoli and carrots or whatever vegetables you like. The dish turned out fantastic and we really loved it. It will definitely be on the list of dishes to absolutely make again!! What a great beginning to the week! This is the first time my husband has tasted chestnuts and he loves them. I absolutely love roasted chestnuts, you can get them on the streets of Malaysia and Singapore and in Europe during winter. The aroma is so haunting and beautiful, absolutely a must to try if you haven’t tried chestnuts yet. Try the chestnuts on their own as well after it is cooked, you can taste the sweetness, subtle crunchiness and creaminess of the chestnuts. Absolute deliciousness!!