banana bread

i tried the atk banana bread recipe since so far all the recipes out of that book have been pretty good.

bbread3

banana bread
from america’s test kitchen family baking book

2 cups (10 oz) AP flour
3/4 cup (5.25 oz) sugar
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large very ripe bananas, mashed well (1.5 cups)
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole or low-fat plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2 oz) walnuts, toasted and chopped course (optional)

1. adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.

2. whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. in a medium bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla together. gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix). fold in the walnuts if using. the batter will look thick and chunky.

bbread1

3. scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

bbread2

4. let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

comments: atk says the secret is to have really ripe bananas. they also say you can freeze ripe bananas. anyway, this was another good recipe, except i should have baked mine a little less since i used a 9×5 pan. the edges were slightly dry because of that. this recipe is also one of the few that cameron and i can easily eat by ourselves. yummy as part of breakfast or for snack.

kusadamas

i like to fold origami at the football games, a habit i developed last season when i was folding for our wedding centerpieces. recently, i’ve been making some more of the kusadama types. the folding for these is very simple (see instructions here), but you need 60 units and some time to glue it together. i do the gluing while watching tv, but still, in total (folding + gluing) it probably takes 3-4 hours for each one. oh also, if you don’t want any of the “flowers” of the same color to touch, the minimum is four different colors.

anyway, i had some leftover paper from the wedding, so i made a small version:

small-kusadama

it’s so cute! then i was thinking it might be nice as a christmas ornament, but had to get some brighter colors:

larger-kusadama

this one is a little bigger than the small one. i think this one will look pretty good on a tree. so i might make some more to give to family members… can’t make that many though since they take so long to make. here they are just hanging out together on the couch:

kusadamas

anyway, those are the ones i’m working on now, but lots more to try!

portuguese bean soup

i’ve made this soup three times, and it is always a big hit. this one’s a keeper!

soup

portuguese bean soup
sam choy’s wife’s recipe (from monica)

2 cups dried beans – kidney, pinto, or small red
2 smoked ham hocks or ham shanks
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 cups water
10 oz portuguese sausage
2 cups diced potatoes
2 cups diced carrots
1.5 cups diced onions
.5 cup diced celery
2 cups tomato puree
salt and pepper to taste

1. soak the beans in water overnight.

2. drain the beans. in a stock pot, combine soaked beans, ham hocks, chicken stock, cilantro, and water. bring to a boil, then simmer until meat and beans are tender, about 1.5-2 hours.

3. remove ham hocks and set aside to cool. when cool enough, extract meat from ham hocks, discarding skin and bones. shred the meat and return to stock pot.

4. slice and fry portuguese sausage and blog with paper towels.

sausage

add sausage to stock pot along with potatoes, carrots, onions, celery, and tomato puree.

pot

cook until potatoes are tender. season with salt and pepper.

comments: portuguese bean soup is another hawaii staple… i’m not becoming hawaiian though! although mac salad is becoming less gross to me… aaaaahhh gotta go back to california! anyway, to me, this recipe is a little different than the “normal” recipes – it doesn’t have cabbage or macaroni; it is thicker than most; and the color is more orange-y :) another thing is this recipe goes better with bread than rice – cameron says it’s because it’s so thick. in the picture at the top, we had the soup with some homemade ciabatta bread.

monica gave us this recipe, and she said she thinks the two secrets are the cilantro and the tomato puree. the cilantro is really important to the broth and the tomato puree helps make it thicker and give it that tomato taste. for this recipe, we like to use pinto beans because cameron says he likes those better for this soup… and i prefer using ham shanks because those have more meat. those ham chunks are so good in the soup. also, i like to make the soup a day before because then the flavors meld more and the soup gets nice and thick. oh and the past two times i made the chicken broth, which i think makes it really good.

irish soda bread

classic irish soda bread
from the america’s test kitchen family baking book

irish_soda_bread

3 cups (15 oz) AP flour
1 cup (4 oz) cake flour
2 tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp cream of tartar
1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened, plus extra, melted, for brushing
1.5 cups buttermilk

1. adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. whisk the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt together ina large bowl. work the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork until the texture resembles coarse crumbs. stir in the buttermilk with a fork just until the dough begins to come together.

3. turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead just until the dough becomes cohesive and bumpy, about 30 seconds (do no knead until smooth). pat the dough into a 6″ round about 2 inches thick, and lay on the prepared baking sheet.

4. cut a large 1/2″ deep X into the top of the loaf using a serrated knife or clean razor blade. bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. (ow! you cut me too deep!)

dough

5. let the loaf cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour. brush with melted butter before serving. (now i’m kinda ugly cuz you cut me too much… oh well i taste good)

bread

comments: i had some extra buttermilk, so we tried this recipe. it is like super easy and fast to make compared to some other bread-like things. no yeast so you don’t have to wait for it rise, don’t need to cut or shape anything, don’t need a mixer to do any kneading for you. to me, the buttermilk makes it taste kind of like a biscuit, but the texture’s different since it is not loaded with butter. ATK says it is great with soups and stews, and the leftovers make fine toast. i think it tastes good with lots of jam:

jam

anyway, hope i’ll have some time to try some other kinds of breads soon :)

rosemary raisin pecan crisps

laura brought some crisps back from new york, and i ate like the whole package (no one else was eating them!). those crispy breads are really addictive, and i don’t know where to buy them here (also i am really cheap), so i looked up a recipe to make some.

rosemary raisin pecan crisps
from dinner with julie

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup roasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the buttermilk, brown sugar and honey and stir a few strokes. Add the raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed and rosemary and stir just until blended.

loaves

Pour the batter into two 8”x4” loaf pans that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden and springy to the touch. Remove from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

loaf

The cooler the bread, the easier it is to slice really thin. You can leave it until the next day or pop it in the freezer. Slice the loaves as thin as you can and place the slices in a single layer on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I like to slice and bake one loaf and pop the other in the freezer for another day.)

toasts

Reduce the oven heat to 300° F and bake them for about 15 minutes, then flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes, until crisp and deep golden. Try not to eat them all at once.

toasty

Makes about 8 dozen crackers.

comments: yum, got my crisps fix :) anyway, this recipe was very simple, and the tips from julie were very useful. i froze one loaf for a couple hours, so it was easy to cut the toasts very thin, and the other loaf is still in the freezer waiting for me. i used 9×4 loaf pans, so my loaves were more rectangular. anyway, the crisps tasted very good. they are slightly sweet from the honey, but not too sweet so you can eat lots of them :) i took some to work too since i ate the ones laura brought back… they got some good reviews. some people thought it tasted like there was also some ginger in the bread. and thanks to ryan for supplying free rosemary. rosemary’s kinda expensive at the store…