From Hoi An I took a night bus to Nha Trang, aka mini Russia, and arrived the next morning at 5 am, just in time to see the beautiful sunrise. Me and my two best friends, sunblock and after sun, enjoyed two scorching sunny days at the beach, playing with the waves and reading in the sun. A nasty sunburn was obviously unavoidable, my back turned into roasted meat. Was definitely missing a travel companion for that reason. Other than lying on the beach I also drank many fresh passionfruit-aloe juices and ate fresher than fresh sea food.
I used to be such a picky eater, there used to be a loooong list of ingredients I refused to eat. Even when my interest in food and cooking grew and the list gradually got shorter, the thought of eating certain ingredients or dishes was simply horrifying. Bananas, mushrooms, everything that sounded really exotic or was just simply new to me, I would not eat.
Then I moved to Beijing and I had to step out of every comfort zone that I had. New friends, different language, different culture, different food and no kitchen. Some things were easier to adjust to than others: food was one of the easier ones, living without a kitchen was definitely not.
When I went back to the Netherlands last summer I couldn’t wait to try out all the new recipes I had been wanting to make for over a year, and inspired by all these new experiences I found my way back into the kitchen. One day I suddenly realized I had made pasta with mushrooms for dinner with this banana-date cake for dessert. I had finally conquered all of my silly food quirks. I now firmly believe that mushrooms are awesome, bananas are my favorite fruit snack and I will never let a chance go by to try out new flavors and ingredients.
I don’t like bananas. The picture in the cookbook looked so incredibly luscious, I just had to make this cake. And I reasoned that a little sticky caramel sauce would make everything taste incredibly good. Boy, do I hate to say these words: I was right. The cake is airy and light, it has pieces of banana in it, but it’s not densely packed with them. The crunchy exterior of the cake gives a nice contrast to the soft inside and the cake itself isn’t extremely sweet, so the caramel sauce brings a good balance to it. So even me, a banana-disliker, liked this cake. After taking a piece of my own, I placed the cake on the kitchen table of my student house and left it there to be judged by my housemates. When I entered the kitchen the next morning there was only an empty plate and a dirty knife left.
Unfortunately, I didn’t bake these muffins for myself and had to give them all away. But because I wasn’t sure if the muffins were ready when they looked like they were, I naturally had to test one to check the inside. Not only were they ready, they were really delicious – a nice, soft banana cake with a crunchy, sugary topping. The topping is so much better than the, according to me, tasteless buttery icings small cakes usually have. So this is another really good recipe from the Home Made books. I’ll be testing more of them in the summer – I’m already looking forward to cooking my way through all the recipes I’ve bookmarked.