Banana bread is wonderfully delicious and easy to whip up, especially if you keep extra ripe bananas frozen in your freezer. This last time, I forgot to take my bananas out early, so I “speed defrosted” them by sticking the frozen bananas on top of the preheating stove. By the time I got everything else together, they were good and soft.
My grandmum always seems to have a loaf around her house. Whenever we’d visit there would be bread sitting on the table, or if we were really lucky, a loaf for each of us to take home. Her bread was always wonderfully moist. She swears her secret is adding a tablespoon of water to the recipe. So, every time I make a loaf, I think of her. I used to make her recipe, but I began to tweak it as it calls for vegetable shortening and three sources of sodium (baking soda, baking powder, salt).
I made one loaf of banana bread about a week ago, with only a few tweaks to my grandmother’s recipe (butter instead of crisco, no water added, less sugar) and it didn’t turn out so hot. It was slightly burnt (even though the recipe said 50-60 minutes) at 50 minutes of cooking and tasted “meh.” Plus, it was better on the “health” factor but still rather low with all that sodium. Banana bread’s hard to mess up so long as it isn’t brick-quality over burnt so I still ate it, but I figured I could do better. After consulting Simply Recipes banana bread recipe, I came to a happy (and delicious) medium between her recipe and my grandmother’s, which is detailed below.
- 3 ripe bananas
- 1 tbsp water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted or softened to room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- pinch salt (less than 1/2 tsp)
- 1/2 cups walnuts (optional, but very yummy)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mash the bananas with the butter and sugar.
- Mix in the eggs and vanilla.
- Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together separately.
- Add the flour mixture into the sugary eggy banana butter mush and stir with a spoon until just combined.
- Fold in nuts if you’re including them.
- Pour into a loaf pan that you’ve sprayed with vegetable oil. These can also easily be muffins, but baking time will be severely reduced.
- Bake the banana bread for 45 to 60 minutes. Test with a toothpick at 45 minutes to see if its done (mine was and looked beautiful!).
These bagels rock. It only takes about an hour to create your own plateful of fresh bagels to see you through the week. I tried bagels once before, but the result turned out poor since in a fit of idiocy I smooshed my poofy risen rounds down and ended up with boiled baked frisbees. I thought they had risen too much and figured they’d re-poof during boiling or baking. I was wrong, horribly horribly wrong. This go around, I stuck closer to the directions I found on my first google hit for “whole wheat sesame bagels” and only made moderate changes to the recipe.
Whenever trying something beyond your usual comfort zone it is good to master the technique first before improvising. I have still yet to make a good sandwich bread because I have yet to master kneading. My impatience in learning how to consistently knead white bread by hand to the right satiny feel before I move on to more difficult to work flours to create the honey infused whole wheat or rye bread that I crave has led to numerous “bread bricks,” salvaged as croutons but good for nothing else.
Update: Since making this recipe, I’ve done several other batches, modifying the recipe each time. I’ve still yet to find the supreme bagel recipe, but this is a good baseline for quick and easy baked fare. In my next rendition, which I will post since the ingredients are quite different from this batch, I plan to half the yeast and double the rising time bouts to develop the flavor.
- 3 cups white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp yeast
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cup water
- Pulse all the dry ingredients (flours, sugar, salt, yeast) together a few times in a food processor fitted with the dough paddle to combine.
- Add the oil and 1 1/4 water while the food processor is on. Add up to 1/4 cup more water until the dough comes together and forms into a ball. It should take 45 seconds or less in the food processor to combine and “knead” all the ingredients.
- Knead the dough by hand for an additional minute or two, incorporating a light dusting of additional flour if the dough is tacky and sticks to your hand.
- Cut dough into 6 to 8 equal size pieces. Form each into a ball. Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rest for 10-2o minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- To form the holes, I prefer to use my fingers to pinch a hole in the center and stretch it slightly larger than the desired size. Alternatively, use both hands to roll each ball into a snake slightly longer than the width of both hands. Then tuck the ends together and use the palm of your hand to roll them together. The website for a homemade bagel recipe I worked from features pictures and youtube videos on bagel rolling techniques.
- Let the bagels rest for 20 minutes. While resting, bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Lightly oil a baking sheet.
- Once the bagels have rested and the water is at a boil, gently drop as many bagels into the pot as will fit without crowding. Boil each side for about 1 minute. A flat slotted spatula works well for flipping the bagels and pulling them out of the water.
- For plain bagels, place the boiled bagels on the baking sheet, leaving some room around each one. To top with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other yums: set the boiled bagel into a shallow bowl filled with topping. Use a fork to pull the bagel out and set on the cookie sheet topping side up.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip the bagels over and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Beware of burned fingers if you’re like me and can’t wait to slice open and devour a hot from the oven bagel.
D makes breakfast most weekends because he has perfected his techniques for making pancakes, french toast, and omelettes. It is a science to get the pan to just the right temperature, while the assemblage of ingredients and flipping “just so” at the right moment requires a bit of artistic skill and flair.
He loves preparing omelettes this way as it is the perfect mix of hot and cold. A trip to Prague years back – where meals would combine hot and cold, sweet and savory all within one dish – inspired him to blend and contrast not just tastes and textures but temperatures in dishes. This omelette features cooked warm vegetables on the inside, and cold fresh tomatoes on top.
According to D, the key to omelette success is the “Jackson Pollock technique” of slowly dripping eggs into the pan that has been pre-heated on low. Oh…and use cast iron… and precook the peppers and onions. To the best of my ability, this recipe recreates how he produces to-die-for omelettes every single time. It is based on my own observations and his explanation of how he makes the magic happen.
This recipe makes 2 omelettes
- 5 Large Eggs
- Green pepper
- Cheddar cheese
- Fresh Tomato
- Salt, pepper
- 1. Chop the pepper and onion. Cook the pepper and onion in a pan until desired consistency. Set aside once cooked.
- Preheat cast-iron skillet on low to medium low heat.
- While the skillet heats, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Dice the tomato and set aside on paper towels (to soak up excess water). Thinly slice or grate the cheddar cheese. Crumble the feta.
- Beat the eggs with a dab of milk. A pyrex 2 cup measuring cup works well to hold the egg mixture.
- Once you are sure the pan is good and hot, spray it lightly with canola oil, then slowly drip half the beaten egg mixture into the pan in a circular motion; begin from the outside and work your way in. Pour slowly -pausing if necessary to let the egg run and settle – before dripping more to fill in the holes to ensure even coverage over the bottom of the pan.
- Sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper on the wet eggs.
- Just before the eggs are no longer liquid on top, add the cheese to one half of the omelette.
- Once the cheese had started to melt, add the cooked pepper and onion on top of the cheese.
- Fold the omelette in half. Let it set for a minute or so. D usually folds the omelette, then puts down the toast and pulls the omelette out of the pan once the toast pops.
- Spread pesto over the top of the omelette. Top with the fresh cut diced tomato. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the tomatoes. Top with feta and serve.
- Repeat the process for omelette number two.
Our CSA share from Parker Farm included a huge – bigger than a six month old baby – butternut squash this past week. One person who weighed theirs clocked it in at 12 plus pounds. As our first squash of the season it was too good to keep stored for later. We baked the entire squash, cut into 6 chunks as it was too large to merely cut in half, with the intent of making additional delicious meals out of the leftovers. In lieu of a pie or a more traditional offering I decided to try my hands at making knish.
This recipe is adapted from Mostly Foodstuffs potato knish post, which includes some excellent pictures of how to form them.
- 2 Cups Flour
- 1 Tsp Baking powder
- 1/2 Tsp Salt
- 2 Eggs (1 will be used for an egg wash)
- 1/2 Cup Canola oil
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 3 Cups of butternut squash puree (made from baked squashed)
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in food processor. Beat together 1 egg, oil and water; add to the dry ingredients. Pulse to combine, scrape down the sides of the food processor if it is not coming together. Once dough forms into a ball, pulse for 20-30 seconds.
- Form the dough into a ball and let rest at room temperature, covered, for at least 1 hour.
- While the dough is relaxing, you can prepare the puree, seasoning to taste.
- Once dough is ready, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll the dough into a rectangle as thin as possible, roughly 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet. Don’t stress if there are small holes in the dough as they will be covered when it is rolled up. Distribute the filling in a thick line, 1″ in from the edge, along the long edge of the rectangle.
- Pull the 1″ edge of the dough snugly over the filling (the dough should be pliable and readily stretch in your hand). Lightly seal the seam around the filling with your fingers. Continue rolling the dough to form a thick rope.
- Pinch closed the ends of the rope. Pinch the rope where you’d like the cut the first knish by lifting the end of the rope up in the air and working your fingers to pinch and squeeze the filling away from this seam. Twist the dough around a few times until you can feel with your fingers that there is no filling in this twist of dough. Continue pinching off knishes from the main rope. If any pinched-off ends open, gently draw the dough over the top and pinch the ends together to re-seal.
- Place knishes seam side down on an oiled cookie sheet. Gently flatten them into hockey pucks leaving at least 1/2″ of space between each knish.
- Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg mixed with a tablespoon of water).
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
For serving, we first ate them plain. My husband suggested smearing the top with honey. I raided the fridge and topped one with my arugula hazelnut pesto and grated parmesan cheese.
My husband, Derek, is the one with the mad sweet breakfast skills. After my several failed attempts at french toast that nearly led to the house burning down, he’s permanently been given sweet breakfast duties. This is his recipe for to-die-for pancakes that I’ve yet to make on my own. I’ve copied out his written recipe in full, but I believe he has trade secrets not listed here–such as warming the milk up first and using room temperature eggs (I’ll have to ask him and update the post later). I encourage you to try the recipe, however, and let me know if the amazing-ness can be replicated by others’ hands.
- 1 Cup Ground Oatmeal or Oatmeal Flour
- 1/2 Cup Whole Grain Flour
- 1/2 Cup All-purpose Flour
- 4 Tsp Baking Powder
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- Pinch Salt
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 1/2 Tsp each: Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Clove
- 1 1/3 Cup Milk
- 2 Ripe Bananas, mashed
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 Tsp Vanilla
- Pre-heat cast iron griddle to medium temperature.
- Combine first 8 ingredients and mix well.
- Combine all wet ingredients and stir well.
- Add dry to the wet. Stir lightly until smooth. Do not over-mix. It should be clumpy.
Feeds 4-5 people. To up the ante, top with blueberries and/or chopped almonds or walnuts.
Frittatas 50 Ways Series
I’m currently on a Frittata kick. They’re the lazy man’s quiche and the untalented chef’s quick fancy omelet rival. All you need is a stove top, broiler, and cast iron skillet to make the magic happen. I could never get the omelet fold-over correct and several times had semi-raw egg soup filled omelets. As the basic frittata without fail always looks sexy and is nearly foolproof I’m going to have a whole series of different incarnations.
This frittata was made with contents of my CSA farm share compliments of Parker Farm in Lunenburg MA. For week one’s drop off I was supplied with 8 heads of leafy greens and have been searching for ways to use them up.
- 1/4 head of curly chicory
- large bunch of mizuna
- 5 eggs
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Garlic Powder
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Set medium to large size (5″-8″) cast iron pan on stove top on low heat.
- Toss some olive oil into pan (like 1-2 tablespoons)
- Slice garlic cloves and set aside.
- Wash and chop chicory and mizuna.
- Add garlic to hot oil, cook until fragrant.
- Add chopped greens to pan and turn heat up towards medium-high. Cook down greens until wilted. My temp was just right that I didn’t have to strain off excess liquid. If your wilted greens are swimming, pour off excess water before the next steps.
- While greens are cooking, whisk together eggs and milk.
- Spread cooked greens evenly along bottom of pan and sprinkle with spices. Reduce heat back to medium-low.
- Pour egg mixture evenly over the greens in the pan. Use a fork to evenly distribute the egg mixture. Cook for several minutes until at least half way firmed up.
- Put the skillet under the broiler and cook until eggs are fully set and top is a beautiful brown color. I added a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the top of my eggs before setting everything under the broiler.
Cut into wedges to serve. Serves 3-4.