Wednesday, 30 July 2014

"A Modern Way to Eat" by Anna Jones (and her amazing Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie!)

nna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie

Oh my word. You really wouldn't believe this was a healthy dessert! Sticky nut and date base, sweet, gooey banana toffee and fluffy whipped coconut cream topping. It is truly amazing and just one of many incredible recipes from Anna Jones' new cookbook "A Modern Way to Eat" (Harper Collins publishers).
©Harper Collins
From the publishers: 
"Anna Jones is a brilliant young cook and food writer, who worked with Jamie Oliver for many years. Her first cookbook is a totally modern take on vegetarian eating – recipes that are healthy, nourishing, truly tasty and satisfying, introducing new dishes that are simple to make. Based on how Anna likes to eat day to day, A Modern Way to Eat covers everything from a blueberry and amaranth porridge to start the day to a quick autumn root panzanella or avocado, butterbean and miso salad for lunch; a tomato and coconut cassoulet, pistachio and squash galette, or mint, ricotta and courgette polpette for dinner. Packed with recipes that explore the full breadth of vegetarian ingredients – different grains, nuts, seeds and seasonal vegetables – and alternative approaches to cooking that avoid too much dairy or heavy carbs and gluten, this is a cookbook for how we want to eat now.
©Harper Collins

Anna Jones is a cook, food writer and stylist. One grey, late-for-the-office day, she decided to quit her day job after reading an article about following your passion. Within weeks, she was signed up on Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen apprentice programme. She went on to be part of Jamie’s food team – styling, writing and working behind the scenes on books, TV shows and food campaigns. Now freelance, she has worked with some of the country’s biggest food brands, including innocent drinks for whom she wrote the recipes for Hungry?: the innocent recipe book for filling your family with good stuff. She has also worked with other well-known chefs, such as Henry and Tom Herbert (The Fabulous Baker Brothers), Stevie Parle and Antonio Carluccio, and cooked for royalty, politicians and LA school children alike. A Modern Way to Eat is her first solo book."
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie
I was more than happy when asked to review her cookbook as it sounded right up my alley. It is vegetarian but don't fret vegan friends, there are over 75 naturally vegan recipes in the book (Anna often cooks for her vegan brother and sister) and many more recipes are given vegan alternatives. Furthermore there are many gluten-free recipes, all listed in the back so no one is excluded.

Another great aspect of this book are they "how to build a...." pages which breaks down how to make almost anything in an easy formula using a huge variety of different ingredients. There are 'how to' pages on:

• Smoothies
• Morning Fruit
• Hummus
• Quick Sandwich ideas
• 1000 variations of soup
• How to make a great salad
• Go-to pasta recipes
• Pestos
• How to make a killer roast dinner
• Roasted Roots and 5 dressings
• Nut milks and butters
• 10 ways with avocado toast

It is a truly beautiful hardcover book with stunning photography and is just a joy to sit down with a cup of coffee and read. This would make an excellent gift to give to friends and family as it is so beautiful and the recipes are top notch. There are so many recipes here I can't wait to try like:

• California miso, avocado and butter bean salad
• Banana, Blueberry and Pecan Pancakes
• Deep Crusted Leek and Greens Pie
• Dosa Spiced potato cakes with quick Cucumber Pickle
• Maple Peanut Tempeh California Wraps
• Smoky Walnut and Cumin Muhammara
• Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Brownies
• Sage, Pumpkin and Potato Bake
• Lemony Lentil and Crispy Kale Soup
• Lady Grey Fig Rolls
• Carrot and Black Pepper Soda Bread
• Crispy Sweet Potato Fries with Chipotle Dipping Sauce
• Sweet Tomato and Black Bean Tortilla Bowls
• Walnut Miso broth with Udon Noodles

....and the list goes on and on! There is also a vegan burger in this book which looks pretty much like the most amazing vegan burger I've ever seen, based on portabello mushrooms and brown rice it looks to die for! I can safely say this will become one of my "go-to" cookbooks.

Now whenever I review a cookbook I like to pick a recipe from it and make that my tester. Needless to say just choosing one from this book was very difficult! There are so many mouthwatering sounding savoury recipes but once I got to this Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie I knew I had to make it. I've been wanting to try a banoffee type pie for years now and this one sounded perfect.
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie
....and it is! A dessert that actually makes you feel good with a sticky nutty date base, banana caramel and fluffy whipped coconut cream topping (I mean, who doesn't like coconut whipped cream???) It's altogether a gorgeous pie, each ingredient compliments the other, right down the little bit of lime juice the banana slices are tossed in - that little citrus kick is a beautiful addition, a nice counter to the rich toffee and cream. Another nice thing about this dessert is that although it is sweet it's not cloyingly so. Just perfect :-)

Disclaimer: Harper Collins sent me the book for review. All views expressed are my own.

~Recipe Notes~

♥ Where the recipe calls for honey or agave I used maple syrup, because, you know I'm Canadian and throw that stuff in everything ;-)
♥ She states that if you don't have medjool dates to use other pitted ones but to soak them first in hot water and use a couple extra. I didn't have medjool so did exactly that. I just soaked them until the edges turned white, maybe only 5 minutes or so.
♥ Instead of the seeds from a vanilla pod I used 1/2 tsp natural vanilla paste.
♥ As you can see I also opted for her recommendation of grating some dark chocolate over top - beautiful!
♥ I was a little impatient in cooking the caramel and it could have cooked longer and gotten firmer - that was my impatience and not a fault of the recipe! Just make sure you cook it as she states, until it is thickened and deep golden brown :-) Although, it doesn't matter if your caramel is a little runny like mine, the slices still hold together and the taste is still spot on perfect!
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie

Anna Jones' Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie:

serves 6-8

75g almonds
75g pecan nuts
120g medjool dates
(6 fat ones, pitted)
1 tablespoon set honey or agave
a good pinch of ground ginger

12 tablespoons unrefined light demerara sugar
3 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed well

2 X 400g tins of full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon set honey or agave
seeds from 1 vanilla pod

2 bananas
juice of 1 lime

First of all, make sure that your coconut milk is in the fridge chilling.

Next, get on with your crust. Put the nuts into a food processor and blitz until you have a chunky crumble. Add the dates, honey and ginger and pulse a few more times, until the whole thing comes together.

Tip the mixture into a 20cm springform cake tin and use your fingers to press it all over the base, making a lip around the sides about 1cm deep. Put into the fridge to chill.
(My personal note: I found it easier to grease my hands with some coconut oil while pressing it into the tin and stop the mixture sticking to my hands.)

Now make your banana caramel. Put the sugar into a pan with the mashed banana, place on medium heat and allow to bubble away until the caramel has thickened and is a deep brown colour. This will take between 3 and 5 minutes.

Peel the bananas and slice them into thin rounds. Toss them in the juice of the lime, then lay them evenly on top of the crust.

Once the caramel is cool, pour it over the bananas, spread it evenly and put into the fridge to chill.

Scoop the thick white top layer from your tins of coconut milk and put it into a bowl. Add the honey and vanilla seeds and whisk until thick, like whipped double cream. Put it into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.

When you are read to eat, give the coconut cream a final stir, then spoon it on top of the caramel and use the back of a spoon to create pretty swirls.

If you like, top with some grated dark chocolate or, if you are feeling fancy, some chocolate curls.
Anna Jones' "A Modern Way to Eat" and Banana, Toffee and Coconut Cream Pie

Recipe reprinted as is from the book with permission by Harper Collins Publishers. Food photos are my own :-)


  1. Banana caramel? Genius! I love that it doesn't rely on coconut oil but whole nuts in the crust. Really looking forward to trying this!

  2. I've seen the book in several shops and it got me curious, sounds like it's a fab book!

  3. That looks like a great book. I've not heard of it before but those recipes sound like the sort of vegan food I like to eat. I treated myself yesterday to Fran Costigan's Vegan Chocolate book which looks amazing too.

  4. Made this yesterday - OMG! So incredibly tasty and so easy too. I don't have a springform pan, so I just put it into a 20cm square cake pan (so it doesn't look as pretty as in the pictures), but I'm sure that didn't affect the taste at all. Thanks for the book review and the recipe, Deb.

    1. It's great isn't it?? We kept saying "I can't believe this is healthy!!" So glad you liked it too :-)

  5. It looks amazing. I've heard of whipping coconut cream but haven't tried it yet I have been meaning to whip it for trifle. I am definitely going to have a look for this cookbook.

    1. Oh you have to try coconut whipped cream - I think it's better than "real" whipped cream by far :-)


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