Bittman’s banana bread

Chris and I have made this recipe a million times… I thought I should finally put it on the blog, especially since this time I used the new How to Cook Everything app to make it! I love this app… iPads are great in the kitchen. I can’t wait to use it with messy recipes once the screen protector arrives! Bittman’s banana bread is excellent. Sometimes, when I run out of whole wheat flour I just use all AP flour. This recipe is super flexible. I have made it with nuts, plain, and with chocolate chips (Chris’ favorite). I’d love to try it with coconut but Chris doesn’t like that. 🙂

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 bananas

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter loaf pan. Mash bananas and mix with all other ingredients. Make sure butter is softened before you mix it all. You can mix in 1/2 cup coconut flakes or chocolate chips or walnuts. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes until toothpick comes out clean and top of bread is golden and split open. If you use a clear glass loaf pan you’ll see that the sides and bottom get very dark. It’s much more flavorful the next day if you can wait.


Best birthday dinner ever… Little Neck clams, broccoli greens, and apple bread with milky brie

Chris and I spent the day pretending it was my birthday… since I’ll be working a really late day on the actual bday.
After a lazy morning and great morning run, we headed to Princeton and spent a couple of hours walking around the campus and town. It’s the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen.  🙂
We had a great lunch at the Witherspoon grill. We had steamed little neck clams, sesame crusted tuna with bok choy, and spinach salad (we shared the tuna and salad). Yum!
After all of this exercise (and all of the traffic on US 1), I decided to stop at Wegmans, the best store in the world, and we bought more clams, tons of veggies and splurged on bread and brie… mmmm….

When we got home, I made:

Steamed Little Neck Clams
Bag of 50 little neck clams
1.5 cups white wine
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Lemon (to squeeze over before eating)
Parsley (to top after cooked)
Bring all except clams to boil in wide pot. Add clams and cook with lid tilted open a little until clams open. Throw away unopened clams.

Sauteed Broccoli Greens
2 bunches broccoli greens (leaves, stems)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp evoo
1 tbsp butter
Heat oil, butter, add greens and garlic (grated on microplane), and cook until softens a bit. Delicious!

Then, for dessert, we had Wegmans milky brie with their fresh baked apple cider golden raisin bread. Heaven! Best way to end a birthday.  🙂

Bread Pudding

Just out of the oven
Close up

Found this “Amish” bread pudding recipe on (googling around).
Had a huge chunk of a big round loaf of yummy bread from Wegmans that was begging to be turned into dessert.
Made two changes: no nutmeg/more cinnamon, and let the dish sit for about 20 minutes before baking (while oven comes to temp). Smells delicious as it bakes!

After cooling 10 minutes… still warm and moist.

Chris’ expert-bread-pudding-eater verdict (the fiercest critic):
“Mmmm…it’s good”. He’s making lots of mmmm noises as he eats it.  🙂
“Vanilla ice cream on top would make it really good”. He would prefer that the raisins weren’t on top but mixed inside because they became caramelized on top, which made the flavor strong. He ate the raisins off the top first.  🙂

So next time I’ll mix the bread and raisins together before throwing them into the dish.

2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2/3 cup brown sugar (I used light brown)
3 eggs
2 1/4 tsp cinnamon (they called for 2 tsp cinn and 1/4 tsp nutmeg)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups bread, torn into smallish pieces
1/2 cup raisins

Heat milk in saucepan over medium heat until film forms over top. Take off heat, add butter, and stir until butter melted. Let cool to lukewarm.
Combine sugar, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla into mixer bowl, mix until blended, at least 1 minute.
Slowly add milk mixture.
Place bread in buttered 9″ square baking pan (or 1.5 qt casserole).
Sprinkle bread with raisins, pour batter over top.
Let sit on counter while oven comes to 350 degrees for preheat.
Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes or until set (took 49 minutes in my oven). Serve warm.

They also mentioned a sauce to pour over it, but I thought that would make it too sweet and gooey. Maybe that’s good, but it’s sweet enough. Here’s the recipe just in case. They suggest reducing the brown sugar in the bread pudding by half if you use the sauce.

1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar (or light brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp flour
dash of salt
Mix everything together and bring to boil for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Set aside for 5 minutes, then pour on warm bread pudding.

Update: Chris liked it even better cold!

Artisan Bread (boule) in 5 minutes… sort of

I borrowed Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day from NYPL to see if it’s really five minutes, and to see if it works. The house smells heavenly right now. I just took the first boule out of the oven. Yum. Waiting for it to cool completely before tasting it is going to be the hard part.

The recipe really does come together in five minutes, especially since there are only 4 ingredients (flour, water, yeast, salt)! I let the dough sit overnight in a covered rising bucket in the fridge. The dough was very holey when I took it out, and very wet and sticky!

I love the fact that you can keep the dough in the fridge and just pull out what you need when you bake.
The five minutes is only for the dough making.
While there really is very little work to do, having the time to wait for the dough to sit and for the oven to heat and for it to bake makes baking day take 70 minutes. 40 minutes for the shaped loaf to sit, 30 minutes to bake. Then a long while to cool.

But I can see how awesome this recipe is. It’s so convenient to have dough at the ready, and it’s so unfussy.  🙂
I took it out too early (33 minutes)… Chris kept telling me to take it out, but it wasn’t dark enough. It was a little gummy inside. We ate it with butter for dessert. It has great flavor, even after only 1 day in the fridge.

Let’s see what day 2 tastes like tomorrow. Next time I’ll cook it for 35-40 minutes depending on the look.
I’ll take their advice and wake up early in the morning to bake one off and then leave it on the table until we get home. Then we’ll have it for dinner. Mmmmm.

White Bread

I’ve made a simple white bread from a 1970s Betty Crocker Breads book but it was super yeasty… I wanted to find a less yeasty bread for sandwiches (in the hope that I could make it weekly for our sandwiches).
I used the White Sandwich Bread recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion (not the Guaranteed one from the website). It used special ingredients like Potato Flour and Dry Milk, but I had them in the house.
Apparently the trick to a brown top that is still soft is that once you take it out of the oven, let it sit for 15 minutes, then brush the top with butter.
It turned out just right, but I was almost a little disappointed that it tasted so much like white bread… I mean that it tasted like what I could buy in the store, not that smelly yeasty bread I made that felt home made. It was nice and smushy and I really liked it. It smells really good though.
You just can’t please some people. 🙂
We’ll see how it does with PB&J and cold cuts tomorrow.
NOTE: According to Chris, on day 2, the bread is a bit dense. I’ve stored in on the counter in tin foil.

Date Bread (minus the nuts)

Nanny’s allergic to nuts and we couldn’t find a good date bread out there without them, so I found and tested a new recipe. It’s excellent; I found it on the Gourmet Magazine website.

Yum! It looked so weird and dark and rectangular when it came out of the oven, but it tasted perfect! Very moist – I made sure to make it a day ahead. Also, I took it out after 60 minutes and the toothpick came out clean and it had pulled away from the sides of the loaf pan. Once you take it out to cool, take it out of the pan after 10 min (still hot) to cool on a rack, then wrap it up in plastic wrap soon after to keep it moist.

I used dark brown sugar instead of light and one 8 oz bag of California pitted dates by Sunmaid. That was all Chris could find in the supermarket, and they worked just fine. Boy are they ugly. 🙂

Like They Serve in SoHo Date Nut Bread

3/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups chopped dates
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (*of course I omitted this ingredient)

Heat oven to 350°F.

In a medium bowl, pour hot water over dates and butter. Stir and let the mix sit until lukewarm. In a food processor, puree 1/3 of the mix to make a paste. Stir it back into the bowl full of date mix. Add the brown sugar, molasses, vanilla, and eggs. Stir until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the date mixture. Mix. Pour the batter into a butter-greased loaf pan.

Bake for 60 minutes or so; loaf is done when the top has risen. Remove the bread from the oven and cool it on a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Italian Bread 101

Delicious, and very easy with the stand mixer!… as long as you don’t mind waiting for the overnight starter.
Recipe from King Arthur Flour:
I followed all of the directions but I only did half with seeds.
The seeds made it smell like popcorn in the oven (I’ll put it on a lower shelf next time), but I think the consensus was that it tasted better with the seeds.
So I forgot to take a picture of this! Argh!
It was a pretty braided bread, just like this…