Whole Wheat Banana Bread

January 17, 2009

In order to successfully incorporate whole wheat flour into a baked good, you need a moist recipe — here mashed banana and yogurt provide the  extra moisture.

Recipe

Dry

  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Wet

  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/8 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries

To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, cover with warm water.  Preheat oven to 35o F.   Stir together dry ingredients.  Beat eggs and sugars on medium for 8 minutes, then beat in oil slowly.   Next, beat in banana, yogurt and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients, walnuts and cranberries.  Spray a large loaf pan with Pam and pour in the batter.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about an hour and fifteen minutes.  If top starts to brown, tent some foil over the top.

Three Cup Chicken

January 17, 2009

Three cup chicken is an extremely flavorful dish from southern China — so-called because it consists of one part sesame oil, one part rice wine and one part soy sauce, flavored with garlic, ginger and basil.

Recipe

(serves two)

  • one deboned chicken leg or two thighs
  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 2″ of ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or rice wine
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 basil leaves

Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks. Heat sesame oil over medium heat, and add ginger and garlic. Sautee until fragrant, about one minute. Increase the heat to high and add the chicken. Cook until you can’t see any more pink flesh, then add wine, soy sauce and sugar. Reduce heat, cover and cook until liquid is reduced by half, about fifteen minutes. Stir in basil just before serving.

When we want a quick, but delicious, weeknight dinner, we’ll often make something with pounded chicken – either with garlic and capers(to be posted) or  this tomato, olive and goat cheese topping.    Pounding the chicken makes it cook more quickly, while developing a nice crust and staying tender.

Recipe

(serves two)

  • 1 chicken breast, pounded to about 1/4″ thick
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 10 kalamata olives, halved

Make a lemon-oregano viniagrette by whisking together

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp(dried) oregano
  • pinch salt
  • pinch ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Adjust salt, pepper and honey to taste –it  should taste like something you would want on your salad.  If you have plenty of time, marinate the pounded chicken for up to 12 hours, but feel free to be lazy and just salt and pepper the chicken before frying.

Fry the chicken in some more olive oil until cooked through — about three minutes per side.  Meanwhile, let the tomatoes and olives sit in the viniagrette.  When the chicken is done, remove from the heat and let sit, covered.  Add the tomato mixture to the pan and heat until just warmed through.  Mix in

  • 2 oz goat cheese

and pour on top of the chicken.

We often serve this with roasted potatoes or with jasmine rice and some sort of green vegetable on the side.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins

January 15, 2009

Mt. Muffin

Mt. Muffin

Also adapted, more seriously, from Pinch My Salt.    These muffins are my go-to snack during the week.  I like to think that because they’re whole wheat, they must be healthy, although, since I’m too lazy to butter my muffins, I just put all the butter in the batter.  I’ll bake a full batch and then freeze most of them.  After 30 seconds in the microwave and 5 minutes in a warm(200-ish degrees) oven, they’re as good as new.  Then I wrap them in foil and take them to school for an afternoon snack.

Makes 24 large muffins.

Recipe

Preheat oven to 375F and prep 24 muffin tins – either with muffin papers or Pam.

Dry ingredients – just mix together in medium sized bowl

  • 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 5 tbsp buttermilk powder(optional)

Wet – stir together in large bowl

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla

After combining the two(don’t stir too much), stir in

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts(I use walnuts)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Fill up the muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the muffins spring back  when poked.

(for my mom – these muffins have 35 carbs each)

Hollandaise

January 15, 2009

If at first you don’t succeed, try try again — and I have.  I was making eggs florentine for my family(using a different recipe) and the sauce broke twice before it works.  However, this recipe has never failed me(yet).

Theory

I think there are a couple key points to making a good hollandaise: the egg needs to be cooked just the right amount, the butter needs to be at the right temperature and the right equipment.

For equipment, a metal bowl is nice because it has a very small heat capacity, so you can quickly control the temperature of the eggs as you are whipping it.

The eggs should be cooked until it just begins to thicken — cook it too much and you get scrambled eggs.  Cook it too little, and it is pretty watery and slimy, like a beaten egg yolk (big surprise).   I like to add all the wet ingredients in at the beginning and cook everything at once (rather than adding water / lemon juice as the eggs are cooking) because it’s less hassle and the consistency doesn’t keep changing each time you add more liquid, which makes determining when to stop difficult.

The butter needs to be at the right temperature.  Too hot, and it will fry the eggs when you pour it in.  Too cold and it will solidify while you try to stir it in.  I don’t think it really matters whether you use clarified butter or just melt the entire stick.  With clarified butter, you need to add a little more water.

Ingredients

(serves two)

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/3 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp water
  • cayenne pepper and salt to taste

Melt butter in saucepan — it is done when it just begins to bubble, turn the flame down low enough to keep it warm.

Put yolk, lemon juice and water in metal bowl.  Hold over (~10cm above) open gas burner set on low and beat continuously until the egg just begins to thicken.  If it the mixure starts to cook too fast, you can pull it away from the flame and wisk vigorously to cool it.

Take bowl off flame, and slowly drizzle in warm butter while beating.  Don’t add it too fast or the mixture may separate.

Add cayenne and salt to taste.  The sauce will keep for about an hour — you can rewarm it slightly by stirring it with the over a low flame.

As a note, when you are cooking the eggs, unless you are very diligent and continously scrape down the side of the bowl, there inevitably will be a crust of overcooked eggs on the side.  Just ignore it and it avoid incorporating it into the sauce when you whip in the butter.

Roasted Vegetable Chowder

January 15, 2009

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Vegetables for the roasting

Theory

This recipe was adapted(minimally) from Pinch My Salt.   It can be done with any assortment of autumn/winter vegetables.    The keys to great flavor are the bacon fat, the wine, and enough alliums(onions, leeks and garlic).  For texture,  the ratio of starchy vegetables(like potatoes, yams and squash) to less starchy ones(like broccoli, leeks and onions) are important.  Finally, for color you want to avoid too many yellow vegetables.  I’ve made this with both acorn and butternut squash, and I prefer the less sweet acorn squash.  If you do make it with the butternut, pick a small squash and make sure you have enough white vegetables to counteract the orange.  The vegetables can be chopped as coarsely as you like, however your roasting time will be longer, and a weak blender might not be able to handle the large pieces.

Ingredients

First, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and start roasting the squash

  • Acorn squash, halved and deseeded
  • olive oil to coat
  • ground coriander, salt and freshly ground pepper

Next up, a roasting pan-ful of vegetables

  • Small head of cauliflower, coarsely chopped
  • Head of broccoli, coarsely chopped
  • Yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • Russet potato, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 leeks, cleaned well and sliced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and with green centers removed
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped

Added to these

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp (dried) thyme
  • 1/2 tsp (dried) sage
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Roast in a 400 degree oven until tender – anywhere from 30 min to 2 hours, depending on how coarsely you chopped the vegetables.   Stir every 15-20 minutes to avoid burnt edges.

Next, fry up a mire-pois in bacon fat:

  • 1 tbsp leftover bacon fat
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped

Add the roasted vegetables and enough broth to allow you to puree the vegetables, washing the roasting pan in broth to get out all the flavor of the wine and herbs.

  • 3 cups chicken broth

After the vegetables are pureed, stir in

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned or (defrosted) frozen corn

And adjust salt and pepper to taste.  If it tastes too sweet, finish adjusting the salt and then add small amounts of lemon juice.  The soup freezes well – just reheat gently.