Archive for September, 2012

Banana Bread

September 27, 2012

I’m a fan of banana bread.  It so standard…yet so satisfying.  And it feels like I make it a lot.  Especially because I always have a lot of leftover bananas (mostly because I’m constantly failing to use them in the spinach/kale/banana shakes that I intend to make every single day…what can you do).

This is the thing, though.  I almost never make just plain banana bread.  With, say, some standard toasted walnuts.  That seems normal and delicious, but, for some reason, I like to amp things up.  Take it to the next level, if you will.  It’s delicious made with peanut butter, or a caramel swirl.  It is always tasty with chocolate chips, but even better with espresso powder.  Seriously, I could write a Dr. Seuss book with my renditions of banana bread.

They’re all tasty, and it does spice things up.  But this time, I did something even more out of the ordinary.  I made plain, old banana bread, with, say, some standard toasted walnuts.  The real deal.  Simplicity wins.

Banana Bread

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 very ripe bananas
2 tbsp. sour cream
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Preheat the oven to 350.  Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.  Set aside.
In a stand mixer, or hand mixer, beat together butter and sugar, until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add eggs and continue to beat until the mixture has become pale and has increased in volume.
On low speed, beat in bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well combined, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary.
With a rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients, until just incorporated, making sure not to deflate the mixture.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool for about 20 minutes before taking out of pan, and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Ratatouille Tart

September 19, 2012

I know, I know.  Another savory tart recipe.  It’s as if I don’t know how to cook dinner for myself until I call it a tart (which, by the way, there is nothing wrong with!).  But people, my back log is running dry.  This was all I had to work with!

Here we are, well into the month of September, and I’m still dreaming of peach galettes I can post about, or a lovely plum sauce that I read about the other day.  But, of course, my supermarket will no longer support these dreams.  I have to come to accept that it is Fall.

Not that I’m complaining.  Fall is my favorite season, after all.  It just kind of snuck up on me, though.  I wasn’t prepared.  And my mind still does not yet wander to the apples and the squashes and the pies.  So here is a dish with my last summer dreams.  The last of the summer vegetable bounty.  My summer backlog is now complete – onward to sweaters and shorter days.

Ratatouille Tart (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to directions
1/4 eggplant, thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow squash, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup ricotta salata, cubed

Heat the oven to 375°F.  Lightly flour a work surface, lay the sheet of pastry out, and gently roll until about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut the pastry in half and transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Prick both rectangles with a fork all over the pastry.

Spread the tomato paste or sauce evenly over the pastry, leaving a half-inch border around the edges.  Evenly sprinkle the oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt, to taste.

Arrange slightly overlapped slices of vegetables in rows over the tomato paste, alternating vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper.

Evenly sprinkle with the ricotta salata.

Bake in the heated oven until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.  Let cool slightly on baking sheet and then serve.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cake

September 13, 2012

As you all already know, every year, I make a cake for my sister’s birthday.  It’s a must.  There are certain specifications that must be met, I spend weeks trying to find the perfect recipe, but the nice thing is that she always enjoys it..and I always like to top the cake from the year before.

This year, for her birthday, my family just happened to be on a trip together.  And for that reason, cake making had to be skipped.  She was not happy, my sister.  She was actually quite upset that she missed out on a homemade treat just because we were out of the country on her birthday.  (To be fair, we were returning from our trip on her actual birthday.  We were jet lagged, and traveling back to her respective homes.  And the only treat that she got on her actual birthday was the airline remembering her vegetarian meal.  So, I suppose she had a reason to be cranky).

So nearly a month after her birthday, I was making a birthday cake for her.  Again, she had her requirements.  My family loves all things meringue, so she definitely wanted that included in the cake.  I suggested a pavlova.  She refused.  Because she said that the cake had to have some chocolate in it.  I suggested a flour-less chocolate cake with a meringue top.  She refused.  Because we were going to be eating it with my parents and my mom is not the biggest fan of a lot of chocolate at one time.  I suggested lemon meringue pie.  She refused.  Becuase I forgot the chocolate requirement. Oh yeah.

So, knowing all of this, I made this cake.  A birthday cake at its best!  A chocolate chip pecan pound cake-like bottom, with a fluffy, marshmallowy chocolate chip studded meringue top.  It satisfied all requirements, and most of all, it satisfied my sister’s need for her birthday cake.  I have already started researching for next year’s cake so I’m ready.

Chocolate Chip Meringue Cake

Chocolate Chip Cake (adapted from Bake or Break)

  • 2 & 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softenend
  • 1.5 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease an 9 inch round springform pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, in a separate bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, and mix well.  Beat in vanilla with eggs.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating just until combined.  Stir in Greek yogurt.  Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

Pour batter to prepared pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile make meringue.

Meringue Topping (adapted from Martha Stewart)

  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat egg whites on high until foamy.  Add cream of tartar and salt.  Beat until light peaks form and slowly pour in sugar.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Carefully fold in vanilla, chocolate chips and pecans.

Take cake out of oven.  Carefully spread meringue mixture on top of cake.  Place back into oven and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean for the cake, and the meringue is light brown and toasted on top.  Let cool for about 25 minutes before slicing.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

September 7, 2012

Today, friends, we all celebrate.  Because this is my 100th post!  What does one post for a milestone like this?!  An extravagant cake?  My favorite cookies?  A savory dish?  Something to deliver on the promise of keeping healthy for a little bit?

Nope, none of the above!  Or maybe all of the above, I don’t know – I’ve never celebrated such an occasion before!  But I wanted to post something all of you can make today.  Something that is easy and gooey and yummy and celebratory.

And these bars fit all of those criteria.  Here’s to 100 more posts!  Yay.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars (slightly adapted from here)

  • 3 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9×13, rectangular shaped pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, use a fork to combine the crushed graham crackers, melted butter, peanut butter, salt and sugar. Press into the bottom of prepared dish. Spread chocolate chips over the crust. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk on top.  Bake 25-30 minutes, or until the top layer is a golden brown. Remove and cool completely before slicing and serving.