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Banana Bread Heaven

banana bread slice

Hi friends and readers, I’m back. Finally.

I had to take a break from posting for a while there, due to the intensity of life and more specifically, my husband’s illness. But now I’m so happy to say that I’m back, and I’ll be posting regularly again. My husband is doing so much better, so life is a little more normal again!

So despite the pressure to post something Christmas-y, I have to write to you about a simple pleasure of mine… something we all can throw together with ingredients most of us have on hand… banana bread.

I’ve been on a search for a reeeeeeally long time for the perfect banana bread recipe. Now I know that what I consider “perfect” is purely subjective and might not be what ya’ll consider perfect. BUT in my defense, I have tried a plethora of banana breads, and to me, this one has earned a #1 spot

banana bread loaf whole

So what do I think qualifies for great banana bread you ask?

Well, for one thing, it has to have a dense banana-y texture. I don’t like my banana bread crumb being lite as cake. But I also don’t want it gummy or undercooked… doesn’t sound too good does it? This banana bread strikes the perfect balance, dense but still lite enough to have a nice crumbly texture.

And of course, I have to take it over the top by adding a crumbly crispy streusel topping. Its my opinion that everything tastes better with streusel!

My son who hates bananas was quickly converted to the banana bread lover camp.
Ahhh… it makes a mother smile!

Now if you want it to be less of a guilty pleasure, substitute most of the butter for no sugar added applesauce. (1/3 cup + 1 tbs applesauce + 2 tbs butter, instead of ½ cup of butter). I’m going to sneak this healthy version in to my family on Sunday (Christmas) and see if they notice the difference.

Have I conviced you to try it yet? Don’t throw away those spotty brown bananas next time! Make this and the people around you will thank you with lots of oohhs, aahhs, and can you make this again-s.

Merry Christmas!
…………….

melted butter
browned butter

I love using browned butter in my baking recipes wherever I can. It adds this nutty, distinct flavor that I adore. So to do this just melt your stick of butter in a pan, on medium heat, until the little milk solids turn an amber brown color, about 4 minutes.

sugar
browned butter

Add the browned butter to 3/4 cup sugar. I used organic white sugar here, you could use brown sugar as well if you like. Just use what you have on hand. Whisk together for 30 seconds or so.

bananas
bananas eggs etc

With a fork, mash 5 medium bananas (about 2 cups), add 2 large eggs, 2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt, and the sugar-butter mixture. Stir until combined.

flour and eggs

batter in loaf

Mix together all the dry ingredients and add to the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined. Pour into your buttered loaf pan.



To make the struesal, mix together 1/3 cup sugar + 1/2 cup flour, a pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp ground cinamon, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Using the back of your fork, or even your fingertips, work 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter into the mixture, until its nice and sandy, but still a bit clumpy. Sprinkle over the batter.

I also sprinkle a bit of raw sugar over the top as well… to give it some sparkle, a little more crunch, and of course…. some more calories.
Just know, you’ve officially committed diet suicide if you do this!
Well actually, that was probably around step 1 when we melted a whole stick of butter, LOL.



Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Banana Bread
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt (non-fat works fine)
2 eggs
2 cups extra ripe mashed bananas (aprox. 5 medium)

For Streusel
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract

Lower fat alternative: Use 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon no-sugar-added applesauce, and 2 tablespoons melted butter, in place of the 1/2 cup butter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, butter your loaf pan.

1. Melt butter in pan on medium heat, it will take around 4-5 minutes until milk solids turn amber brown, add to a small bowl with sugar, stir.

2. Mash bananas with a fork, add yogurt and eggs, and sugar-butter mixture

3. stir together remaining dry ingredients, add to wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.  Pour batter into buttered loaf pan.

4. Make struesal by combining all ingredients and rubbing together with your fingertips until combined.  Sprinkle streusel over batter

5. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

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White Peach Butter with Cardamom

peaches and knife
Ok, Ok, I’m on a bit of a white peach kick.
After making those white peach margaritas last week, I fell in love with their pure sweet peach flavor. To top it off, white peaches seemed to be on sale everywhere I looked, so I had to do something with them again!

Peach butter, or any fruit butter for that matter, is like a loose jam. There’s actually no butter in it whatsoever, but that gets me thinking… this would have been awfully good with a stick of butter thrown into it. I mean, what doesn’t taste better with butter, right?

So if you love peaches like me, you’d be missing out on something really special by not trying this for yourself! On toast, as a sauce with ice cream, mixed in with your morning yogurt, or my favorite, plain right out of the jar. Hey, Its my jar… mine! I can double dip if I want to. Sorry, I get a little possessive over my sweets.

Moving along…
I added a few pinches of ground cardamom to just give it that je ne sais quoi flavor. I was going for “whats that hint of spice I detect”, not “woe, these are some spiced peaches”.  Ground ginger would also work really well. Speaking of which, I have this ginger- vanilla creme brule that I must share soon. Its heavenly!

So here is what I did.

x peaches
Using your small pairing knife, score an x on the top of your peach. This will help you peel your peach in a few minutess.

water boiling

Bring a large pot of water to a boil…

…and drop in your peaches. Blanch them for 2 minutes. Then scoop them out, and reserve some of the liquid.

peeling peaches

In a few minutes, once they’re cool enough to handle, peel the skin off. I used the tip of my pairing knife at first. But the skin was so loose, I just started peeling them off with my fingers.

peeled peaches
quartered peaches
Cut them in half.

quartered peaches
And then cut them into quarters. Throw them in a large pot.
water
sugar
Add 1 cup of the water you set aside earlier, and 1 3/4 cup sugar…

mmmhhhhh…. Cardamom. To me it smells like a mix of lemon and ginger.  Not only can you use it in desserts, but its great in spicy rubs. Just a little goes a long way.



and 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, and some sea salt.



Add the juice of 1 lemon, to give it a bit of tartness. Now let it simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, lid on.



Remove it from heat, and scoop the peaches into your blender. Just the peaches, you don’t need to add the juice. Puree until its nice and smooth.


Return the puree to all the juices in the pot. Mix, and set it over low heat, lid off. You’ll need to give it a stir every 20 minutes or so, scraping up any pieces that stick to the bottom.


After 3 hours…


You can do a test to see if its done. Just drop a small spoonful on a cold plate, and if it spreads really wide, and a little puddle of water oozes around the edges then it needs some more time.


After 4 1/2 hours. Done!
To be honest, at 4 1/2 hours, when I did the test, it still had a bit of that water ring around the edge, but I tasted it and thought, hey, this tastes great, and if I cook it anymore, I think it might have more of a caramel flavor than a strong peach flavor, so I took it off of the heat.


I had these cute jars leftover from a batch of apple butter I botched last fall. It had waaaaay too much sugar in it. For that reason, I significantly decreased the sugar in this recipe compared to the other fruit butter recipes I saw online.

Stored in your fridge, they’ll keep for about 3 weeks. That’s if you can stop yourself from eating it all before then!

Here’s my recipe.

Cardamom scented White Peach Butter
makes about 6 cups
6 lbs or 10 large white peaches
1 3/4 cup sugar (2 cups if you like it sweeter)
1 cup water
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom, or ground ginger would work well too
1/4 tsp salt

Note: if you use yellow peaches, you might want to decrease or omit the lemon.  You also might want to use 2 cups of sugar instead of 1 3/4 cup.  Yellow peaches are more acidic than white peaches, so they don’t need that kick from the lemon.  Just wait until the end, and if it tastes a little bland, then add a bit of lemon juice.

Hope you enjoy it!

~Christina

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The White Peach Margarita

white peach margarita

I made myself a little drink yesterday, and it was good, really good.

And its definitely going to happen again today.

bbq baby back ribs + white peach margaritas = perfect labor day!

Well that would be true if I was making all that for me… I wish. No, actually I’m catering a labor day birthday dinner for a client, and i thought I’d just give this drink a test-run, or two. lol.

peach in blender

Sweet, juice-running-down-your-hand peaches are one of my favorite culinary treasures of summer. I’m really going to miss them!

Just put them in the blender with a little agave syrup, and puree.
You could also use some peach liqueur. Just ease up a bit on the tequila… we’ll get to that in a bit.

puree

If you want, you can puree them a little less, and leave them a bit chunky, its up to you.

See, I’m really democratic with my recipes.

ingredients

We’re almost done!
Now just add your fresh lime juice, peach puree, tequila and ice to your blender.

Blend.

This is a minimalist margarita. I like using a good/decent 100% agave tequila, and an agave sweetener instead of simple syrup (I figure agave + agave makes sense, right?). White peaches have a really low to 0% acidity, compared to yellow peaches, and their sweetness is supposedly more ideal for margaritas.

I know my stuff.

Actually, my wine guy knows his stuff, I’m just pretending for the sake of this drink.
So I can say something besides, “make it! ‘Cause its good.”

White Peach Margarita
for 1 drink
2 slices white peach for garnish
1 oz shot silver Tequila
1 oz shot non-alcoholic triple sec – optional but adds a nice flavor
squeeze of lime
1/2 cup peach puree (see below ingredients)
kosher salt for glass rim
ice

Peach Puree (makes enough for about 2-3 drinks)
2 white peaches
3 Tablespoons agave syrup
squeeze of lime, to keep puree from turning brown

Puree Peaches with agave syrup and squeeze of lime until desired consistency. Add more or less agave depending on how sweet you like your margarita. Fill up a blender 1/2 full with ice and add 1/2 cup peach puree and remaining ingredients. Blend. Run your halved lime around the rim of your glass and press on coarse salt.

Have a relaxing labor day!
~Christina

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