Monday, May 20, 2019

Banana Pudding

Growing up in the northwest, we would have "a barbecue" and that might mean a picnic or gathering or potluck, whether it included meat or fire or not. Here where I live in the south, we would never use the word barbecue that way, and barbecue is serious business. In my state of South Carolina alone, there are four different bbq regions (with different sauces) and even a BBQ Trail Map. One of my coworkers has been trained as an official bbq judge. Only in the last few years have I even eaten meat, so I'm still learning about the difference in meat styles. But up to that point (and part of me may still believe this now) I thought that bbq was like Thanksgiving - it's important that the meat centerpiece is good but that people are more interested in the sides.



One side you see everywhere in the south is banana pudding, from seafood shacks to the finest dining establishments downtown (ten years ago I made Soby's White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie for friends visiting from Oregon, and I think that was intended as an elevated banana pudding.) But just like macaroni and cheese, a side-dish I also made from this same cookbook, you never eat the same pudding twice. Everyone has their own take, their own technique. This recipe has you assemble the pudding and bananas and cookies at the last minute, where many southerners would have had you put the pudding and cookies together overnight so everything is soft. Maybe we all find our own way.

Banana Pudding(from BBQ&A with Myron Mixon)

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of kosher salt
2 cups whole milk (do not use skim)
2 tbsp unsalted cold butter
2 tsp vanilla extract*
18 Nilla wafer cookies, coarsely crushed
3 ripe bananas, thinly sliced*

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, gradually bring the milk to a boil. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture (back) to the saucepan. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 minutes. Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to serve the pudding: spoon the pudding into 6 bowls. Garnish with the thinly sliced bananas and sprinkle all over with the crushed Nilla wafers. Serve cold, right away.

Note: You can serve the cookies without crushing them - just allow 3 per bowl. You can also add a couple tbsp of banana or almond liqueur (or a combination of both) into the pudding mixture right after you transfer it to the saucepan.

*Notes from JennyBakes - I substitute banana liqueur for the vanilla because I've always thought it was strange that the only banana in banana pudding is the bananas! I wouldn't cut the bananas until right before serving, OR put them in a dish and smother with the pudding to chill, and top with the Nilla wafers so they get a little soft... this seems more standard for southern pudding. This recipes leaves the Nilla wafers pretty crunchy.



BBQ&A with Myron Mixon came out May 7, 2019, from ABRAMS Books, and has a lot of practical how-to information, diagrams too, that should be an asset to anyone wanting to up their barbecue game.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Bread Pudding French Toast with Bacon and Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup

Peter Sherman is the founder of BarBacon in NYC, a restaurant centered around bacon. His new cookbook, The Bacon Bible (by Peter Sherman with Stephanie Banyas,) came out April 23rd. It has a lot of what you might expect but also some surprises. I'm relatively new to eating meat again but of course one of the great pleasures of a meat eating life is bacon. BLTs! Cobb salad!  I wanted this bacon to be special so I bought local, from the Swamp Rabbit Butchery

I found I had marked a bunch but I kept coming back to this sweet and savory brunch recipe and decided to give it a try. Since not everyone in my household eats bacon, I made a half recipe by cutting everything in half and just using 4 eggs, and cutting back on cooking times a bit (20-25 minutes with the foil, 15 without) and it worked perfectly. The bacon is present but not overpowering, and overall the dish is not too sweet and has a lot of balance (don't skip the orange rosemary syrup which helps with this.)


Bread Pudding French Toast with Bacon and Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup

Ingredients:
1 loaf semolina-golden raisin bread, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes*
7 large eggs
2 cups (400 g) sugar
2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 thin slices bacon, cooked until crisp, finely chopped

Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup (recipe below)
Confectioners' Sugar for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until a pale golden blond color, turning once, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 350 F.

Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter and nonstick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the milk, cream, orange zest, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the bacon. Add the bread to the custard mixture and stir well to combine. Let the mixture sit, stirring a few more times, for 20 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed all the liquid.

Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until puffed and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cut into squares and serve with the Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup and a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar.

Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup

1 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
Zest of one large navel orange
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a small saucepan, combine the syrup, zest, and rosemary, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for thirty minutes. Remove the zest and rosemary and reheat before serving, if needed. Makes 1 cup.

*If you prefer your french toast made with brioche or challah, feel free to use either, just add 1/3 cup golden raisins and 1/4 tsp fennel seeds to the egg mixture. (Or if you're like me, just wing it... I found a challah with regular raisins and called it close enough.)

I had a few pieces of bacon leftover so I made chocolate covered bacon from the candy section of the cookbook.



Other recipes I've marked to try include:

Bacon Ramen
BarBacon Cobb
Skillet Pasta Carbonara
Peanut Butter and Bacon Bars

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Mexican Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

By the time you see this cake, it will be 364 days until the next Cinco de Mayo, so write it down and come back. Or make it sometime this summer, whatever the reason. It is super moist, not too sweet, and refreshing. I made a half recipe and baked in a 9x9 pan for 30 minutes and that worked out great!


Mexican Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Yields 9x13" cake

Ingredients
    For the cake:
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

  • For the milk mixture:
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup chocolate milk

  • For the whipped cream topping:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease 9x13" baking pan with butter or cooking spray.
  3. Combine hot coffee and butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter is melted. If the butter doesn't melt all the way, microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and sugar, stirring until well combined.
  5. In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring until well combined.
  6. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring until about halfway combined, then add coffee mixture, stirring until well combined.
  7. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  8. Pour batter into the pan.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with some loose crumbs on it.
  10. Let the cake cool completely.
  11. Once cake is cooled, combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and chocolate milk and stir well to combine.
  12. Poke lots of holes in the cake with a toothpick or a fork - the more the better, so it soaks up all the milks!
  13. Pour the milk mixture over the cake.
  14. Refrigerate at least an hour.
  15. Make whipped topping by combining heavy cream, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and whipping until stiff peaks form. I use my electric mixer for this but if you want a good arm workout - use a whisk and your arm!
  16. Spread whipped topping over chilled cake.
  17. Dust with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of more cayenne, if desired!
  18. Slice and enjoy!
Notes
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Power of Sprinkles Cake Experiment

I have had this cake cookbook on my pile for a while to try and finally pulled all the pieces together! Amirah Kassem is the personality, baker, and cake decorator behind the sprinkle explosion cakes at Flour Shop. Her new book, The Power of Sprinkles, shows the method behind making the cake. Really The Power of Sprinkles is more of a decorating book, because it only contains one cake and one frosting recipe, but then goes on to demonstrate a bunch of variations, from the unicorn cakes to the sushi cakes to the cakes that look like other things (pizza, pancakes, etc.) Because of the one recipe issue, I am not including it in this post; please take a look at the cookbook!

It felt to me like sprinkles were the important thing, so I decided to make a small explosion cake. I had ordered fancy sprinkles already! I used the basic suggestions for the sushi roll cakes, which divided one cake recipe into two 9x13 pans (two colors) and used a half recipe of the icing. Amirah has very clear directions in her book, with pictures for each step. This is how I remembered to put holes in my cakes but not the top layer, and to remember to fill the cake with sprinkles before putting that top layer on! She also has helpful recommendations for timing, scaling up or down, or other variations.

I had been poking around the cake decorating part of the internet (a huge rabbit hole) and decided to try out the watercolor technique on the outside. 


I definitely used too much food coloring in the watercolor stage, but liked how this technique required less icing (I was worried I shouldn't have halved the batch!) and lets you use up all the dregs in the watercolor process, which is basically random blops that get smoothed to a vaguely abstract look (or in my case - almost smoothed. I really need a cake turner!)

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 

The Power of Sprinkles came out April 9, 2019.

You can use the book for a whole host of ideas for seasonal parties or fun themes, or even just as a jumping off point for your own creative ventures. The cake I made is not exactly pictured, but I pulled inspiration from some of her versions and used her primary cake and frosting recipes.

Check out her website and Instagram too, which may be the two most colorful places on the internet!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Double Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

I follow a bunch of bakers and other foodie types in Instagram, and one of my favorite is the Table for Two account. Her daily espresso stir into milk is mesmerizing (watch her stories, you'll see what I mean.) I saw these muffins come up the other day, was home for the day, and totally craving chocolate. I also had a lone wonky banana that wasn't going to make it to the weekend. These muffins start with a trick that makes a big difference - high heat to lift the height of the muffins. Please visit the Table for Two blog for answers to FAQ about this recipe, detailed picture instructions, and all her other content. (This is not a paid advertisement by the way, I just like this account a lot.)



Double Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins
(from Julie Wampler at the Table for Two blog)

3 ripe bananas, mashed
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips, more for topping


Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together bananas, maple syrup, vanilla extract, egg, coconut oil, and greek yogurt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.

Carefully pour in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated and no flour is left at the bottom.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a large cookie scoop (or ice cream scoop), fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and add additional chocolate chips on top, if desired. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You may get more than a dozen, that's okay.

Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit then turn down the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and finish baking for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Notes from JennyBakes:

Julie at the Table for Two blog is pretty adamant that you can use a neutral oil like avocado or grapeseed instead of coconut, but says not to use olive or canola or vegetable. I didn't want to wait for my other cold ingredients to warm to room temperature (necessary when working with coconut oil, otherwise it resolidifies) - I used vegetable oil, and thought it was fine.

I used regular flour instead of whole wheat.

I used sour cream instead of yogurt.

I made 1/3 of the recipe because I had 1 banana!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Whole-wheat spelt, date, and molasses scones

I served these scones as an accompaniment to another recipe from A Modern Cook's Year: More than 250 Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes to Get You Through the Seasons, which I will discuss below. It was a good decision because these are not very sweet, but add a nice contrast to the dish I prepared. I didn't have quite a full cup of spelt flour so I used a little bit of all-purpose in the same amount, and it worked just fine. You can actually substitute all-purpose flour entirely, but the texture will be a bit denser.



Whole-wheat spelt, date, and molasses scones

Makes 6

1 cup (125 g) pitted dates
5 fluid oz (150 ml) freshly brewed strong black or earl grey tea
1 cup (125 g) whole-wheat spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
2 tbsp (30 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup (75 g) buttermilk or thin natural yogurt

For the glaze:

1 organic or free range egg
1 tbsp milk
a pinch of sea salt
a handful of rolled oats



Preheat the oven to 395 F (200 C.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Soak the dates in the hot tea for 15 minutes, until the tea has cooled a little. Mix together the flour, baking powder, allspice, and sea salt with your fingertips, then add the butter until the mix looks like bread crumbs. You could also do this by pulsing it in a food processor.

Drain, then roughly chop the dates and add them to the mix, along with the molasses and buttermilk. Mix slowly and lightly until the mixture forms a soft but not too sticky dough. Shape into a rough round ball, place on a prepared baking sheet, and use a knife to score across the top, to mark out six portions, stopping before the knife reaches the baking sheet. It should look a bit like a loaf of soda bread.

Mix the egg and milk for the glaze with a pinch of salt and brush it over the top, then sprinkle with the oats, pressing them into the dough lightly to stick them down.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet and reduce the heat to 360 F (180 C) and continue to bake for about 10 more minutes, until the top is a dark golden brown and when you turn the scone over and tap it, it sounds hollow. Serve warm from the oven and break up as required.



I served this scone loaf with Cauliflower rice with eggs and green chutney from the same cookbook. As skeptical as I have been about cauliflower pretending to be other things, this treatment of it was delicious and we will have it again!

A Modern Cook's Year: More than 250 Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes to Get You Through the Seasons by Anna Jones is one of the books from ABRAMS that I've been procrastinating on because it has so many recipes I want to make! As a former vegetarian still married to one, I know the suffering of most vegetarian options at restaurants and even the offerings in vegetarian cookbooks - so many pastas, and so many portabella "steaks."

This cookbook comes from a different philosophy. First of all it is very seasonal, but it is also British in all the best ways. The recipes feel like they come from a country garden with rotating seasonal produce but also influenced by current eating trends and international cuisines. Sometimes Anna Jones provides a recipe, but other times she provides a formula. There are two pages of curry formulas that I can't wait to try, and the springtime dishes have me searching for ramps already. This is definitely going on my permanent shelf for endless inspiration.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Spiced Berries from Pescan

I made Spicy Buffalo Tofu Fingers from the Pescan Cookbook last month, but I had a few more pages marked to try. One morning we had berries in the fridge and bananas that were past their prime, and I remembered this recipe.


Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Spiced Berries

Spiced Berries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1 tbsp filtered water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Pancakes
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup old-fashioned or gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher sea salt
2 tbsp chia seeds or 1 large egg
2 tsp coconut oil

Make the spiced berries. Place the blackberries, raspberries, and water in an 8-inch pan. Cook the berries over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries begin to break down, about 3 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and cardamom, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 3 minutes more, until the raspberries have broken down into a sauce. The blackberries may stay intact depending on how firm they are. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.

Make the pancakes. In a blender, combine the bananas, milk, water, oats, almond meal, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and chia seeds or egg. Blend, starting on low, then bringing it up to medium-high speed, until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat, add 1 tsp of the coconut oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the pan is hot, after about 1 minute, make 2 pancakes using half of the batter (about 1/2 cup each), spreading the batter out with the back of a tablespoon. Cook until set on the bottom and a few bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the second side until lightly browned on the bottom, about another 2 minutes. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Swirl the remaining teaspoon oil into the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.

Meanwhile, reheat the berry sauce over medium-low heat. Transfer the pancakes from the pan onto individual serving plates and top each with one quarter of the berry sauce. Reheat the first two pancakes in the pan over medium heat for 30 seconds per side, then transfer to serving plates and top with the rest of the berry sauce. Finish with a bit of softened coconut butter on top.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 
Pescan is available March 26, 2019.