Desserts, Food, Recipes, Travels
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Taste of Savoie and Jura / Healthy Buckwheat Banana Bread

Cyrille and I cooked amazing dishes every night during the 3-week holiday, which wasn’t good for his regime, however, sometimes having a guest is an excuse to spoil yourself. Now I’m back home, next stories on my Jura holiday would be written in retrospective.

One of the longest exploring the region was to Gex, the town of Bleu de Gex cheese, up the Jura Mont Rond, down through Mijoux, a ski town, and through Comte farms. So this post will have many photos of the beautiful sights but not as many as I’d like to share.

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I visit each cheese town as if I were a holy pilgrim; paying a visit to the towns where my favourite cheeses are made and that give me so much pleasure is almost spiritual, and the same goes for wines. We walk through small streets, soaking in the sun and autumn colours.

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Stalls at the weekend market were packing up but we managed to get a few goat cheeses, one of which I’d forgotten of and had on my last day. It was the round one on the right and it was stinky and gooey as hell. We liked it very much.

Residance de l’Appetit…..what a great street name!

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Next up the mountain, and there I could see Mont Blanc past the Geneva lake. We are looking down at Geneva! It’s not very visible in the photo but you can see the famous fountain, Jet d’Eau. The view was just mind-blowing, but a better view is yet to come.

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We stopped at the nice restaurant across the road for lunch, which was mostly about cheese, fondue, gratin, etc, but you can also have pierrade, the French table BBQ, which I saw people at the another table having and thought was pretty cool and cute.

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The interior and ambience of restaurant was warm and I imagined eating hot cheese fondue on a cold winter day there. I remember going to a fondue restaurant, Au Vieux Carouge, a hidden local secret, on a cold winter night in Geneva some years ago and having an authentic fondue experience at a table sandwiched between people, which I love about European restaurants. You can peek at the photos here in my travel blog if you’re curious but just the photos.

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Ah, you can see Jet d’Eau better in this photo!

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Creamy and cheesy Croziflette… I had no idea what Crozets were but they turned out to be little square pastas made with buckwheat.

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Cheesy and stinky Gexiflette… yes, it’s like Tartiflette but with different cheese. I have a difficulty liking Reblochon cheese and I don’t know why. Though I’m all for stinky cheese, Reblochon and Munster have lost me somehow.

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OMG, I was so creamed and cheesed up that I desperately needed coffee. But instead of having one there, we decided to have it somewhere else to give it a change of atmosphere. I think a little climbing helped the digestion even though the cafe on the summit was still in the seasonal closure.

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Freshened up by the climbing and stunning view from the top, we drove through various towns in Jura mountains, watching the cows leisurely grazing on the green pasture. But their milk won’t be making my favourite Comte cheese, but Mont d’Or, the soft-rind cheese made with milk from the same cows but in winter.

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Cows, herding dogs, buffalo family, lonely and peaceful cottages, the beautiful rolling hills of green pasture…. Words can describe the beauty of it all, and I don’t want to bore you with more photos in this post.

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On the way back home, Cyrille and I discussed about dinner as usual. We spent most of awake time talking about what to eat and what to cook except when working. He must have realised along the time how serious my obsession was, much worse than he knew of me 4 years ago in Australia. Having felt heavy from the big lunch, we agreed on making something light for dinner – Salad and Cheese. Why not? Sounds like my kind of dinner.

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As you know, we had by then a huge collection of cheeses brought from different places at different times since my arrival, plus three from Gex. I liked this barrel-shped cheese, Le Clacbitou. It had a creamy and dense interior and the exterior of  camembert-like soft rind and ash-rind combined. Quite unique taste, indeed.

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Ha, you see the big block of Comte cheese getting smaller and smaller each day? The petit figs and olives I got from the Thursday market, where I had the impulse to reply in Turkish to the Turkish vendors. Knowing many language gives you strange feelings in different environments. I have the potential to be a spy with my language skills. 🙂

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A cheese board makes me smile. I just want to look at it for hours and hours. Cyrille complained often that I just kept taking photos and eating slowly like a mouse while he couldn’t fight the temptation and would dive straight in and eat continuously while I was still admiring and taking photos. So his non-dairy diet had been disturbed a bit but I hope he will get back to his normal diet now that I’m not there.

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Since the Rhône-Alpes region is famous for buckwheat, I saw a lot of buckwheat flour around and when I saw bananas going black, I decided to make banana bread with buckwheat flour. Through my living out of suitcase in various countries for many years, I’m quick to improvise and localise recipes. The banana bread is going to be made with local staples, buckwheat flour and walnut oil.

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As it wasn’t my kitchen, I couldn’t find a loaf mould so I baked in a cake tin. The difference between cake and bread is the amount of butter and eggs; cake has more because cake is cake! Bread is lighter and can be eaten as breakfast, which I often do; slightly toasted, and then buttered and honeyed….oh…so good. I minimise the use of sugar whenever possible and this has only 1/3 cup brown sugar and we both found it sweet enough. If it’s not sweet enough, you can always drizzle some honey on a slice and I prefer that than adding more sugar in my baking.

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Banana bread goes better with yogurt because the acidity in yogurt complements the sweetness in bananas. But it was France, so I served it with fromage blanc, which is like yogurt. Even the cream maniac Cyrille admitted that fromage blanc went better with the banana bread. He said he enjoyed eating my banana bread for breakfast, saying how convenient and healthy it was. One night he flopped a teaspoon of the elderberry jam his mum made onto the top of fromage blanc.

The next experiment will be baking without any chemicals such as baking powder and baking soda. Now I’m trying to practice more natural cooking methods and I’ve always wanted to try banana bread with yeast as in here but have never got around to do it. My Bordelaise mentor never uses chemicals when baking and many French dessert recipes don’t include baking powder. The most common leavening is egg whites and yeast. I hope you give a go at this simple, easy recipe. You will find plenty more recipes for various banana bread in the links in this post on wholewheat yogurt banana bread.

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Buckwheat Banana Bread

(without Butter and Baking Soda)

Ingredients (1 loaf)

3 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 cups buckwheat flour
1/3 cup walnut oil
1/3 brown sugar (1/3 cup more for a sweet tooth)
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
almond flakes (optional)

Steps:

1. Preheat the oven to 175’c and line the baking tin with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar vigorously till well-combined and frothy.
3. Sift in the flour, baking powder and spices, and add the mashed bananas and mix all together gently until just combined.
4. Pour the batter into the baking tin and sprinkle almond flakes. Bake for 40-45 mins. Transfer to a rack to cool.

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