The cooking theme continues!

This past weekend was another massive brick session, and I needed to be sure to power up for it appropriately.  It dawned on me to try two of my own foolproof recipes.  These ones are guaranteed delicious.

Banana Muffins or Banana Breadimage

I have made this banana bread for years, but this time I made the same recipe into muffins in order to have portable food for the bike, and it worked perfectly.  The original recipe comes from A Little Bird with the omission of the booze and sultanas. I save old bananas by popping them into the freezer, and when I have enough I thaw them out and bake ’em.  I should add that the quantities set out below are for one cake or one pan of muffins…. I nearly always double that batch and either freeze the second loaf or give it away, ‘cuz that’s how delicious it is.

175g plain flour (=1 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

125g unsalted butter (melted, or not – I’ve done both. I also frequently use salted butter. = just over 1/2 cup)

150g sugar  (=2/3 cup)

2 large eggs

around 4 very ripe bananas

30g chopped walnuts (walnuts aren’t my favourite nut, but they work well in this recipe. I’ve also used pistachios in a pinch. = a handful)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 170°C / Gas Mark 3 / 338°F.  Grease up your loaf tin or muffin tin. I’ve used butter for this or olive oil spray.

Spread the walnuts out onto a baking sheet and place them high up in the oven so they toast.  Keep an eye on them; it only takes 4-6 minutes and you don’t want them to burn.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl.  Melted or room-temperature butter makes this much easier.  Add in the eggs and the bananas and mash it all up.

Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt. Don’t over stir.  Add in the vanilla then stir in the walnuts.  Boom, you’re done.

Pour the mixture into your tin(s) and bake.  If you’re making a loaf, it will take around an hour.  A big loaf may take more time (put a knife into it when you think it might be done. If it comes out clean, you’re good.  Messy, bake some more).  I’ve found that it’s hard to overbake these babies.

If you’re making muffins, around 40 minutes should be enough.

Cool and enjoy.


This recipe does seem to be pretty idiot-proof. I’ve not managed to mess it up yet. However, see those chocolate cookies on the right in the above photo? Don’t they look delicious? Want a closer look?


Don’t be fooled. They were disgusting.  My attempt at gluten free chocolate cookies. Tom and I shared one freshly baked, both made faces and the rest went straight into the bin. Yuck. Epic fail. No, I’m not giving you the recipe.

But I was on a cooking binge. That same evening I also whipped up most delicious carb-loaded trick of all: tortilla española. I learned to make tortilla years ago when I was living in Ireland, taught by my Irish boyfriend Des who had in turn been taught by his Spanish ex-girlfriend.  Thank you, Des – this recipe has proved to be the gift that keeps on giving!


Tortilla Españolaimage

Tortilla to Spaniards is like PB&J to Americans or tea to the Brits – as commonplace as it comes, but always welcome, always delicious. But to be boringly healthy, I’ve changed the oil from the gallons of vegetable oil to much less coconut oil. It makes the tortilla just as moist and you can use way less.

3-5 potatoes, depending on how big you want it to be. If you’re making your first one or if you have a small pan, smaller is definitely more manageable.  I try to make them as big as possible!

a hearty tablespoon of refined coconut oil

around half a cup of frozen peas (other veg can be used too)

4-6 eggs, depending on how much potato you’re working with.

1/2 chopped onion (I buy frozen chopped onion and it’s a great shortcut)

Get the onions gently cooking in the coconut oil in a large frying pan.image

Cut the potatoes into very thin slices. Think dauphinoise type slices. As you cut them up, add them to the onions frying away, until all the potatoes are in the pan.  Keep the heat low and stir occasionally so the bottom potatoes don’t burn and so that the top potatoes get their turn on the hot bottom too.  If you have a lid to your frying pan, putting that on in between stirrings will cook the potatoes through even faster.  You want the potatoes to be cooked through so they are really really soft. This normally takes 15-25 minutes depending on how many potatoes you’ve used.  If at any point you notice the pan going too dry, add a little bit more coconut oil.

If you are using a fresh vegetable, like chopped up asparagus or peppers, add them in with the potatoes to cook. If you’re using the extremely convenient and very tasty frozen peas option, add them in at the end. I find that the peas give a really satisfying pop of moisture and sweetness.image

Crack open your eggs into a large bowl and beat them.  Add a bit of salt and pepper, but don’t overdo it (you can always add more to the cooked product, but you can’t remove it!).  Add in the cooked potato, onion, and miscellaneous veg and stir it up. You can mash it up a bit too with your wooden spoon.  Then pour it all back into your frying pan, still on low heat on your stove top.  Let the mixture settle into the bottom and pat it on top until smooth and press the spoon around the sides to try to bring the mixture into a vague cake-shape.  Leave cooking for maybe 15 minutes or so. I watch for little bubbles appearing at the sides of the tortilla – usually a sign that it’s ready to be flipped.

Flipping sounds scary, but it isn’t. Just place a large plate on top of the tortilla, hold it in place and flip the pan so the tortilla ends up on the plate. Then gently slide it back into the pan to let the other side cook. This side takes less time – maybe 5-10 minutes.

Then stick a plate back on the tortilla and flip it out of the pan again. Presto!  A perfect looking potato “cake”, absolutely delicious and full carbs and protein. I cut a few squares, wrapped them in cling film and stuck them in my jersey pocket for the ride. Delicious. As a main meal, it looks impressive to guests and is a vegetarian (although not vegan) meal.


These foods kept me going strong for the day – a 1 hour swim, 6 hour bike ride, and 50 minute run. Best of all, my friend Molly surprised me by showing up for the run, meeting me at my house, no less. With our chit chat, the run flew by and suddenly I was done for the day – relief! 12 hours later I was back out running at 5:20 am, 2h45 minutes with the Wellington Runners’ Club and feeling surprisingly good. Which I put down to being adequately fuelled from the day before.

This Saturday is my very last mega swim-bike-run session and I’m also racing the Wellington Horse Country 10 Miler on Sunday.  I’m using the term “race” here very loosely as I don’t expect to have much oomph left!

3 weeks 1 day until Ironman Florida! 

What are you training for?