The only banana bread recipe you should be using.

I get so caught up in nostalgia, I have a special loyalty to somehow represent a period of time that is long over. I don’t ever really “get over” things, I carry these memories like an emotional weight vest. Some are good, many are bad, it helps to have both to remember why the “good ones” were good, balance. I drank an entire french press of coffee just now and the caffeine is surging through my veins as I listen to the eerie carnival sound of “The Cure”. God I love youtube….I know there are better ways to listen to music, but I love how many of the videos are uploaded with a touch of why the uploader, published it. I want to know everything about why someone else feels love for the things I love, you figure they gotta have great taste! At least in one song. I have endless weird playlists of songs that represent my psyche, some are great, some are not, but each melodic entity helped form who I am in one way or another. Sometimes when I go down the youtube rabbit hole I rediscover songs, and that is always exciting because with the song comes a slew of memories…..sometimes I will put my prize on my list, unless it releases the memories that are too painful for daily air play, then I will listen to in once and work hard to try and forget it, but it’s inside and next time it finds it way into my ears, I will feel its presence along with the fluttery feeling inside my stomach and the related anxiety surge. At least I know i’m alive! Speaking of anxiety, when I get loads of it baking helps me relax, as do cleaning tasks, so I decided to clear my freezer out of over ripe bananas I save to make banana bread and make….BANANA BREAD! (cue trumpet playing out triumphant victory tune)
I can in no way, shape, or form take credit for the recipe. I do, like everything I cook, put my own spin on it. This is the recipe.
Flour’s Famous Banana bread:
1½ cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour instead, it was super tender)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon (I upped this to a full teaspoon)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar(I just did 1 cup and then topped each loaf with a piece of fresh banana and sprinkled with turbinado sugar)
2 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
3 ½ very ripe medium bananas (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (I used macadamia nuts instead and added them to the top before baking along with some toasted coconut, turned out great!)
Heat the oven to 325ºF degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. (Or whip by hand with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.)
With the mixer on low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Be sure NOT to pour the oil in all at once; add it slowly so that it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you’ve just beaten into the batter. This took about 1 minute.
Add the mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and mix on low speed until just combined. Fold in the dry ingredients and nuts by hand until thoroughly combined, so there are no more flour streaks in the batter.
Pour the batter into a buttered 9×5-inch loaf pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until the top of the banana bread is golden brown and springs back when you poke it in the middle. If your finger sinks when you poke it, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and then pop out of the pan and serve. Keeps for 2 to 3 days at room temperature, tightly wrapped. Or store in the freezer, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks and defrost overnight at room temperature.
This recipe is in weird in that, you make a sweet aioli with the eggs, sugar, and oil. I think that is the trick to its perfect texture. I used four smaller loaf tins, but if you use a large loaf pan just make sure you don’t under bake!!! Under cooking is the worst thing you can do to this and the only way it will be a disaster, besides burning it. I think this would bake up lovely as a layer cake alternating the tender cake with cream cheese frosting! A great base for seasonal fruit, like using berries since it’s summer. Or make it just how it is….you can’t lose and baking is good for stress levels! Happy baking!!!

Pork sausage Ramen with collard greens

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So I have been loving the “Momofuku” cookbook, but not having a brigade of cooks available to perform some of the tasks necessary, not to mention the time it takes to prep, and a two and a half year old, tiny tyrant ransacking the joint some recipes are not always plausible for the home cook although not impossible, maybe when my kids are in college in 15 years…haha! The book is totally inspiring though and I love his unique techniques, storytelling, and of course obsession with ramen. This week I have teamed up with Papa George’s sausage to create some recipes with this fabulous product. The sausage is 55% less fat then conventional sausage and upon tasting them and cooking with them realized that they have all the flavor without the grease! Ramen is on my mind of late and David Chang’s ramen broth has bacon, so I figured why not turn it on its head and use sausage to make a “quick” weeknight version? Collards are often used as well so I stuck to that but I just boiled them with my stock instead of doing a separate preparation. It ended up great and it was done in an hour!

You will need:
12 oz roll Papa George’s regular variety
1 inch knob fresh ginger cut in half
4 shitake mushrooms
1 bunch scallions
2 quarts chicken stock
1/4 cup mirin
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 bunch of collard greens, stripped off of stems and coarsely chopped
In a large saucepan or stock pot place crumbled sausage over medium heat, when the sausage begins to render add ginger, and white parts of scallions (save the green part for topping bowls), add shitake, add collards, when wilted and shrunken in size, add stock. Bring to boil, reduce to medium, add soy sauce, mirin, and sugar. Simmer. Skim any oil off the top.
4 portions Ramen noodles, I used a fresh variety from my local Asian market, but you can you those dried ones as well.
Boil as per directions on package, this all depends on what you end up using, fresh cook fast mine were done in about 1 minute.
1 cup of corn, use frozen, canned, or if its in season fresh!
1 cup bamboo shoots, if you can’t get the fresh one’s canned work fine.
Green parts of scallions sliced
4 soft boiled eggs or fried eggs are good as well, your choice.
sesame seeds
Divide noodles up evenly into four bowls, fish out your mushrooms and remove stems, and slice, place in bowl, add corn to each bowl, fish ginger out of broth and discard. Using tongs or chopsticks remove some of the collards and mushrooms(remove woody stem)slice, place on bowls, do the same with sausage using a slotted spoon, add broth, sliced scallions, eggs, bamboo shoots and a bit of sesame seeds or ramen pepper. Enjoy! A whole new way to get your sausage and eggs!

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Green Eggs and Ham (Pancetta)

My daughter is in first grade and she is totally reading like a boss. We have broadened our horizon in literature as well (See ya later Dick and Jane, wouldn’t wanna be ya!) and we are having quite a fun time with Dr. Seuss lately, the first book I could read when I was little was “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish”, so of course she would have access to all the greats. My daughter told me the other day that she thought green eggs and ham would be “gross”. So in my usual style I put that to the test with this recipe…maybe not totally a “recipe” as it is more of a guideline to do your own thing, for example eggs can be replaced with tofu, and ham can be substituted with my mushroom bacon recipe here. Honestly I think we all need to add more vegetables to our meals, why not start with breakfast? This is easy, fun, and you don’t need any gross food color additives to create a bit of whimsy with your meals, I even served ours with star fruit slices to pay homage to “The Sneeches”.
Serves 2
You will need:
2 eggs, get the best one’s you can, totally worth the extra $1. Or sub with half a block of firm tofu, crumbled.
1 cup, blanched broccoli florets, chopped fine. Or use another green veggie you like, spinach, zucchini, etc.
1 shallot, minced.
2 tsp. rendered pancetta fat, this is what I used, you can also use oil, butter, whatever you like.
2 slices pancetta, or bacon, or ham, or even beets would be fun, and of course mushroom bacon.
1 Tbsp. Pesto, any variety you like as long as it green in color.
1 Tbsp. curly parsley, chopped.
2 slices, rustic Italian bread, toasted just before serving.
Cook pancetta, or whatever your “Ham” du jour is. Set aside.
In a non-stick pan, heat oil or rendered fat over medium high heat, add shallots, sauté 3 minutes, add broccoli, cook 2 more minutes, add whipped eggs, or tofu. Scramble together, and add pesto, combine to achieve green shade as desired, add half the parsley remove from heat.
Top each slice of toast with eggs and ham, sprinkle with parsley serve with star fruit and eat! Totally a fun way to start the day or end it! If it’s good enough for “Sam I am” it’s good enough for me! Yum!