Magdalenas de desayuno

Some breakfast muffins…

I had some bananas I’d been keeping all week for banana bread. I changed my mind and decided to revisit an old muffin recipe. This time I made a few alterations, added more dates (just to finish of the packet rather than having some left behind), I didn’t have crunchy peanut butter so I added 50g of crushed walnuts. I also decided I did not want to add sugar but changed my mind and added 2 tablespoons of black treacle.

The muffins turned out very nice, sweet and soft and went very nicely with a glass of (oat) milk.

Given that I have adapated this recipe, I felt that I could give it another name. I had initially started with ‘banana, date, walnut and peanut butter muffins’ . Ignacio pointed out that I had basically just given a list of ingredients. He then told me that the Spanish name for muffins was magdalenas, which I may have known before, but became an interesting fact for Sunday morning. Coupled with the fact that we ate these for a late breakfast, the name magdalenas de desayuno (breakfast muffins) was born.


500g ripe mashed bananas (about 4 large bananas) 

125ml sunflower oil 

1 teaspoon vanilla paste 

125g smooth peanut butter 

50g crushed walnuts

1 egg beaten 

350g plain flour 

2 tablespoons black treacle

1 teaspoon of baking powder 

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 

250g chopped dates or figs 


1. Preheat the oven to 180oC/gas 4. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases. 

2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl with the sunflower oil, vanilla bean paste, peanut butter and beaten egg. 

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and raising agents. Add the chopped dates and crushed walnuts

4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the banana mixture, mix until combined.

5. Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cases. Bake for 25 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

The original version comes from: Have Your Cake and Eat It, Mich Turner,

My previous offerings:

Banana, date and peanut butter muffins

Bananas back

Fig, banana, peanut butter muffins

Mafalda corta with chickpeas and za’atar

It’s been a while since I’ve opened my Ottolenghi recipe book, Simple. This week I felt it was time to cook something different from the usual curries I’ve been making of late. I thought it might be nice to revisit a previous chickpea and pasta recipe, which I recall was very tasty.

This time round it felt, simpler to assemble. It was rather soothing to be peeling, chopping and grating in the Saturday morning sunshine.

The smells generated while the chickpea mixture was on the cooker were also quite nice too. Calming, fragrant and not overpowering at all.

The original recipe uses gigli pasta. In the recipe notes we are told

Gigli means ‘lilies’ in Italian, and their floral wavy edges are a great vehicle for the chickpeas and anchovies in the sauce. Orecchiette (ears) or conchiglie (shells) are also good for scooping and work really well here, too.

I did not have any of those three pasta types. Instead I had Mafalda corta in my cupboard. A quick Wikipedia search later I discover:

Mafaldine, also known as reginette (Italian for little queens) or simply mafalda or mafalde, is a type of ribbon-shaped pasta. It is flat and wide, usually about 1 cm (½ inch) in width, with wavy edges on both sides. Mafaldine were named in honor of Princess Mafalda of Savoy (thus the alternative name “little queens”).

The final product, made for a lovely Saturday afternoon lunch. Difficult to describe the dish, save for saying it has warm flavours and made me feel good.

I needed to feel good because it’s been a somewhat full-on week. Although I started with a few days of restful annual leave (my last for this financial year), the last two working days of the week were packed beyond belief and, as well as events in my personal life, I thought I was going to break. I really did. As usual it’s time in the kitchen, under my control, creating something that I like, that saves me.


45ml olive oil, plus extra to serve

½ onion, peeled and finely chopped (100g prepped weight)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tsp ground cumin

10g thyme leaves, finely chopped

25g anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped (about 7)

1 lemon: finely shave the skin of ½, then juice to get 2 tbsp

2 x 400g tins of cooked chickpeas, drained (480g drained weight)

1 tsp soft brown sugar

400ml chicken stock

200g gigli pasta (or conchiglie or orecchiette)

50g baby spinach leaves

15g flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1½ tsp za’atar seasoning

salt and black pepper


1. Put the olive oil into a large sauté pan and place on a high heat. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, thyme, anchovies, lemon skin, ½ teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden. Reduce the heat to medium high, then add the chickpeas and sugar and fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chickpeas begin to brown and crisp up. Add the chicken stock and lemon juice and simmer for 6 minutes, until the sauce has reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside. You can make this in advance, if you like, and warm through before serving.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook for 8 minutes, or according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3. Stir the spinach and parsley into the chickpeas: the residual heat of the sauce should cook the spinach, but if it doesn’t wilt, just warm the chickpeas gently on the stove. Transfer the pasta to the pan of chickpeas and stir to combine. Divide among four bowls and sprinkle the za’atar on top. Finish with a drizzle of oil and serve.

Mint Aero Squares

Yup, it’s the day of the one year anniversary we did not wish to celebrate.

So I distracted myself by baking sweet treats to take to work.

This is a recipe that a lovely lovely friend of mine hand wrote and gave to me years ago. Just the other day I was sorting out my bookshelves and I found it folded away tucked between two books. I decided that now was as good a time as any to make this. The only problem was that I did not convert the original weights from imperial to metric so I was short on chocolate. This meant that I ended up halving all the recipe ingredients. The other adaption that I made, was converting the topping to dark chocolate and crushed aero mint balls. I found that I couldn’t melt the white chocolate that the recipe specified (neither microwave nor double boiler helped – I ended up with a scorched lumpy mess) so I made quick adaptation.

It’s a really simple recipe to make, crush, melt and mix. While the mixture was ‘setting’ in the fridge, Ignacio and I took a short walk in the park behind our flat. It was nice to be in the sunshine, even though it was cold. Nice to feel the breeze and at least feel alive.

The final product came out nice. It is very thin because it is half of what is should be but it is sweet, chocolatey and minty and very comforting on a day like this.

These will keep for a few days in the fridge and will make for a nice little snack between MS Teams meetings when I go back to work.

Torta de aceite

I woke up this morning with a craving…

Seems I start most days this way. Today I wanted to make and eat some torta de aceite. They are a spanish sweet biscuit made of flour, water, yeast and olive oil. They are thin, flaky and crispy and sprinkled with sugar. They are thought to originate from Andalucia (Sevilla). They seem have a number of interesting non-Spanish names – oil cakes, spanish olive oil crackers, vegan spanish pancakes

I have made these before, quite a few years ago. They were very nice.

These ones I made today, were different. Not quite as crispy or flaky but nice enough, I think the key is rolling them out really thin. I also did not have any 00 flour so I ended up using malthouse bread flour that has been sitting around in the cupboard for some time. That did make these a little browner and provide a slightly different taste and of course is quite the wrong texture for this recipe! But you know me, ever the experimenter…

I made 12 of these in total. They’ll go nicely with a cup of tea.