Florence’s Food: The Best Banana Bread

Todays recipe is one I have been making a lot of recently. It’s delicious, easy to make, doesn’t feel too unhealthy and best of all it stays fresh for days on end in a cake tin. It’s a modification of a Rachel Allen Recipe from her book Bake. It’s supposed to contain more dried fruit and whisky but I prefer it without. It’s also delicious toasted.

250g Self raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 level tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
100g softened chopped butter
50g chopped walnuts or pecans
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
475g whole bananas (about 4 small ones)
13 x 23cm loaf tin, greased and lined with baking powder.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees.


  • Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  • Beat together the softened butter and the sugar.
  • In another bowl mash the bananas and add the eggs, whisked, then mix together.
  • Put all three bowls of ingredients in one and bring together gentley.
  • Finally add the nuts and fold in.

  • Pour into the loaf tin and smooth the top flat then bake in the oven for 1 – 1 1/4 hours (use a skewer to see if the middle is properly cooked.)
  • Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin.

I like to top mine with cream cheese icing if you’re feeling naughty 😉

Enjoy readers,


Friday Food: Chocolate and Almond Biscotti

This week’s Friday Food, is one of my own favourites, by Rachel Allen. Recently I’ve had a real sweet tooth and one of my worst habits is that I can’t stop eating at any meal until I have had something sweet. These biscotti are amazingly low fat (I worked them out as 1.5 weight watchers points on the old plan) so make a nice sweet finish without too much damage to the waistline. They’re perfect for dunking in coffee and even better as a gift for the host at a party or Christmas.

Biscotti are baked twice, but don’t let that put you off, it only adds 15 minutes to the recipe and you never turn the oven off.

Ingredients: (Makes 12-20 biscotti)

  • 1 egg
  • 100g Caster Sugar
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 75g roughly chopped dark chocolate
  • 50g whole almonds
  • the finely grated rind of one orange

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Whisk your caster sugar and egg together until pale and mousse-like.

Fold in the dry ingredients gently.

Flour your hands and a surface then scoop out the loose dough mixture and shape it into a flattened log.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar before putting in to the oven (you may want to do this bit on the baking tray you intend to cook them on as it is quite soft.)

Bake for 20 minutes then remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Take a serrated bread knife and slice the biscotti (at an angle looks nice,) into 2cm wide slices.

Place them back onto the baking tray, on their sides and bake for a further 5 minutes on each side, turning in between.

Cool on a wire rack. (If you’re feeling really fancy, then you can half dip the biscotti in chocolate for a more indulgent treat.)

For this batch, I had some pecans I wanted to use up so threw them in too, and I used milk chocolate as I had it in the house, instead of dark. Mine are also a little under done here, but still tasted fantastic and crisped up nicely. The recipe can take a bit of messing – people will be so impressed when you say these are home made!

Buon Appetito!


*Recipe taken from Rachel’s Food for Friends – Read more about the book and my other favourite cookery books here.

Friday Food: Chicken Tagine

This morning, I’m carrying on the January healthy food theme before a serious return to cake (watch this space!) and yummy things. As the days (and diet) have gone on, I’ve been casting about for interesting recipes that will still keep the calorie (or fat) count down and remembered another Rachel Allen recipe that is a relatively regular weekday meal in our house.

The spices in this chicken tagine make it seem interesting but there’s actually very little in there that will cause dietary offence. I make mine with chicken or turkey breast for ease but you can of course follow the recipe and make with jointed chicken. The addition of chickpeas probably wouldn’t go amiss either if you wanted to bulk it out for hungry mouths.


For the tagine:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 x 400 g canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp honey
  • 1 x 2.25 kg chicken, jointed and skinned

For the couscous:

  • 500 g couscous
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juice only
  • 500 ml boiling chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander, mint or parsley
  • 2 satsumas, peeled and chopped

To serve:

  • lemon wedges
  • Greek yogurt


1. For the tagine: heat the oil in a large saucepan (wide enough to hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer). Add the garlic, onions, ginger and the spices. Season with salt and pepper and cook over a low heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft.
2. Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes and honey and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the sauce is thick.
3. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and cover with the sauce. Simmer over a low heat with the lid on, stirring from time to time, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
4. For the couscous: put the couscous in a bowl, add the oil and lemon juice and mix well to coat the grains. Pour over the boiling stock and season with salt and pepper.
5. Cover and leave to sit in a warm place until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Use a fork to separate the grains and stir in the herbs and satsuma pieces.

Let me know how you get on as always, or tweet a picture.

Don’t forget too, we’re always looking for Friday Food submissions. If you would like to get involved and have a particular favourite recipe for whatever reason please do drop me a line at hello@florencefinds.com.


Florence’s Favourite… Cookery Books

This afternoon, I thought I’d try something new, another round up, but with some serious audience participation.

A little while a go I wrote about the Great British Bake-Off Cook book and a few readers mentioned that they would like to hear about peoples’ highest rated cook books. It made me think, a ‘favourites’ feature would be great… I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours 😉

So these are Florence’s Favourite (and recommended) top recipe books, please pitch in with your tried and tested favourites in the comments box. (I’m thinking they would also make great Christmas presents…)

Jokes about how to boil an egg aside, Delia’s how-to books are like a kitchen bible for me. Whenever I need to figure out a basic technique, am unsure of cooking times for a roast joint, or need a basic recipe, for meringue for example, this is the book(s) that I come back to time after time. I jest not when I say Delia even taught me to bake bread.

My favourite recipes are often sharing dishes. We regularly have friends over for casual meals in the week, nothing fancy, just one-pot-wonders that feed more than 2 of us anyway and make for a relaxed catch up. Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends by Rachel Allen, (I’d recommend Rachel’s Favourite Food equally) is full of them, along with occasion foods and menus for impressing your husband’s boss, light bites with girlfriends and Christmas foods. I’ll take her kitchen too.

No list of cookery books is complete without Jamie Oliver and Jamie’s Dinners is another of those well worn books in my cupboard that I turn to time and time again for recipes like Jools’ favourite Stew, Jamie’s Lasagne and Aubergine and Mozarella Pasta. Jamie’s Italy is also a favourite, mainly due to my obsession with Italian food.

Everyone has got it, but you can’t beat the Hummingbird Bakery book for baking. My sister thinks the recipes are a bit hit and miss, but every one I try comes out a cracker and it’s a go-to for desserts when we’re entertaining, as well as Sunday afternoon baking adventures.

These are not just the books I own, or have been given (I have tons more) but the ones I turn to day in day out and find reliable too. They come with Florence’s official seal of approval!

Do share your favourites and feel free to agree or disagree with my choices. I’ll look forward to finding some new favourites!


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