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Posts Tagged ‘delicious’

Banana bread? Oh yawwwwwnnn……seriously?

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Oh my yes! Seriously!

If you are at all a fan of a good banana bread, one that smells perfectly banana-y, is superbly moist and tender, with the added attraction of caramelized banana pieces on top- yes! on top!- of the bread, then you really, I mean, really need to give this recipe a whirl. I love a good banana bread. I mean, since I was a kid I have loved banana bread and I have always been a stalwart for my Mom’s tried and true recipe that I’ve rarely ever strayed away from, but oh do times change, and tastes mature and now, with this recipe and it’s 8 bananas….yes, no typo there folks…. I’m pretty sure that even my Mom would be nodding in approval. And snatching another piece, maybe feigning indignant hurt that I’ve strayed, with her mouth full.

This recipe comes from the Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica CA. No, I haven’t been jet-setting across the country to bring you a new and agonizingly delicious banana bread recipe, I just happened to be browsing the LA Times food section and came across this. One glance and I was sold. Eight bananas, people. Eight. And poppyseeds. And dates. And did I mention the eight bananas?

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So besides the abundance of fruit, the sugar sprinkle across the top that melts and gets gooey brown and fabulous in the oven and the pockets of tender dates baked into the loaf, just what makes it so good? For one thing, you whip the butter and sugar until it’s barely recognizable as such, creating a base layer that just shouts out it’s fluff and tender personality. It’s loaded with vanilla. There’s sour cream and some poppy seeds. It’s like a whole adventure in texture, taste and crumb, and a day or two on the counter only intensifies it’s beauty. I’m a goner. Better crank up the cardio if this one sticks around, because I foresee it sticking to many spots I may wish to ignore before too long. Restraint, where art thou???

Banana Poppyseed Loaf-
From The Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe, Santa Monica CA (and the LA Times newspaper)

3/4 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. AP flour
1-1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1-1/2 t. baking powder
1-1/2 t. baking soda
3 T. poppyseeds
1 t. salt
5 ripe bananas, plus 2 fresh bananas (divided)
3 eggs
1 T. vanilla extract
1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt
6-8 oz. chopped dates (most pkgs are 8 oz; I used the whole pkg)

Heat oven to 375°. Spray two loaf pans with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flours, leaveners, salt and poppyseeds together. In your stand mixer or with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Don’t skimp here. Make it really airy and light. Add eggs, one at a time, and blend each one well. In a separate bowl, mash the 5 ripe bananas well and stir in the vanilla. Spoon into the butter mixture and blend well. It will look kind of curdled but don’t fret. It all comes together. Mix in the yogurt until incorporated then gradually stir in the dry ingredients. Fold the dates in gently.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and smooth the top. Slice the other bananas into 1/2″ slices and line the top of the batter with them, pressing them down slightly. Sprinkle the bananas with sugar of choice. A good raw sugar would be nice, or a flavored version if you have one. I used a pistachio sugar.

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Bake the loaves for about an hour, rotating them halfway through. Check at around the 50 minute mark for doneness. Use a wooden skewer if necessary. Cool loaves for about 20-30 minutes in pan, then run a knife around the edges and unmold the loaves onto a cooling rack. You may have a banana piece drop off in the process. Bummer. Better eat it.

Sift powdered sugar over the top if you wish, but I didn’t. It doesn’t need it. Indulge. Enjoy. Live the banana joie de vivre!

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Nearly two years ago I attempted to make a certain dish for Mike that he dreamily talked about from his years of living in California during the dot com boom. Although the dish was acceptable at the time, I have been plagued ever so slightly by the possibility that I could do a whole lot better. In fact, I knew I was capable of greatness in this regard.

The premise of the dish was simple- a pork in green chile sauce served with blue corn tortillas. Seriously, how hard could it be? We’re blessed to live in a richly varied urban setting where one long and delicious section of either Twin City has vast ethnic offerings; I didn’t need to make my green chile sauce from scratch, nor the blue corn tortillas. I just needed to get in my car.

The meat option is simple when it comes to making a pork dish that requires a long slow cook- boneless country style pork ribs. The meat holds up well to a slow simmer and is deeply flavorful, not to mention cost-efficient. With enough brain-storming and enough drive, I put it together in my cast-iron dutch oven, placed the cover on and crossed my fingers.

Like I needed to worry……

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Somewhere in the past year or two, I think I’ve started to really find my cooking mojo. It’s not like I didn’t know what I was doing before- I mean, I’ve been cooking since I was a wee lass, but it seems like I’ve managed to figure out in my culinary brain really how to make a wide variety of food work a whole lot better. It isn’t just about how to cook well, it’s more like how to cook smart.  And it is no less apparent than in the way this dish turned out.

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Most of my readers know that food for me speaks greatly of the love I have in my heart for those closest to me. Food is how I so deeply express my emotions, and since I know how important and beloved this dish was to Mike way back in the days BK (that’s ‘Before Kate’ ) it really meant something to me to be able to recreate it, or at least a really good rendition of it, for him to enjoy. He’s not all that into eating meat, much to our Little Carnivore’s chagrin, so when he specifically requests a meat dish, I know it needs to really be something else.

And baby, this dish was something else!!! The pork just melted in our mouths and had a decent spicy kick that was enticing but not at all overwhelming. I really look forward to leftovers.

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To me, something this delicious bears repeating, if only to offer the tantalizing recipe to someone who may have missed it before.

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Pork Fried Rice (F&W magazine, January 2007
3 tablespoons soy sauce
5 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
3/4 pound Chinese barbecued pork, half cut into 1/2-inch dice and half sliced 1/3 inch thick
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 carrot, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 head baby bok choy, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 cups cold cooked Japanese short-grain rice
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt

In a small bowl, stir the soy sauce with the rice vinegar, sesame oil and sugar. Heat a very large skillet. Add the shortening and let melt. Add the diced pork and stir-fry over high heat for 1 minute. Add the peas, shiitakes, carrot and bok choy and stir-fry until tender. Add the eggs and scramble just until set. IStir in the cooked rice, scallions, soy sauce mixture and pepper and stir-fry until the rice is hot. Remove from the heat and season with salt. Spoon the fried rice into bowls, top with the sliced pork and pickled ginger and serve.

KATE’S NOTES:

I don’t use shortening, replacing it instead with peanut oil. I also use napa cabbage. And certainly, because Mike can’t stand them, no. eggs.

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Pasta with Prosciutto and Chevre
original recipe from Thyme for Cooking (changes marked * and in bold)

1 red onion (*i used shallots)
2 cloves garlic
12 Greek or black olives, pitted (did not use)
12 green olives, pitted (did not use)
8 oz white beans (cannellini) ( *used one 14-oz can)
1 tbs olive oil
3 oz (60gr) fresh spinach (*used about 6 oz)
6 – 8 slices (4oz, 125gr) Prosciutto, Serrano, Bayonne (mine) or other dry-cured ham (*used 5 oz)
2/3 box chevre (goat cheese) – the little cartons of creamy goat cheese, 5 oz (150 gr)
(Chavrie in U.S. Chevraux in France) (*i used Stickney Farms Garlic/Herb goat cheese- one log)
1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (*did not use)
1 1/4 cup pasta (* I used 1# Ronzoni Seven Grain pasta)
Half a container of Grape Tomatoes, sliced in half.
1/2 c. frozen baby peas

Katie’s Thyme for Cooking method: Cook pasta according to package instructions.
While waiting for the water to boil, prepare sauce:
Thickly slice onions. Mince garlic. Slice ham into large strips. Cut olives in half. Drain and rinse the beans. If spinach leaves are large cut in half. Heat oil in medium non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender. Add garlic and ham. Sauté for 10 minutes longer, until ham is slightly crispy. Add olives, beans and goat cheese and heat through. When pasta is done, drain but don’t shake every last bit of water off. Put the spinach on top of the sauce in the skillet, add the hot pasta and stir to combine. Sprinkle with cheese, stir again and serve.

Kate in the Kitchen’s Method:
Thinly slice shallot, mince garlic and chop prosciutto. Drain and rinse white beans. Rinse, and de-stem spinach. Slice tomatoes. While pasta water boils, heat olive oil in large skillet and add shallot, saute for about 5 minutes. Add in garlic, stir and cook for about a minute. Add in prosciutto, cook for about 10 minutes. Add pasta to pot when ready and cook al dente. When prosciutto is slightly crispy, add in crumbled goat cheese and break up with a spoon. Scoop up some of the pasta water and add it to the skillet, stirring it into the goat cheese to melt and loosen; add the peas, beans and tomato. Stir to combine and add in spinach. Allow to simmer on low heat while pasta cooks. Drain pasta, reserving more of the water; add pasta back to pot and pour goat cheese mixture over it, stirring to combine, adding in more pasta water if too thick. Heat through and serve.

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