Whole-Banana Bread

I am constantly bookmarking recipes from The New York Times’ cooking section. This Whole-Banana Bread caught my attention because ingredients include tahini and cocoa powder. It wasn’t until I was gathering ingredients that I realized the recipe doesn’t call for eggs and does call for banana peels (hence, the name “Whole-Banana!” lol). I really like these cocoa-y, rich muffins, though two of my kids prefer my regular Banana Bread recipe. According to my son, “Why change what works?” My answer? Because!

This Whole-Banana Bread recipe is from Nadiya Hussain and adapted by Charlotte Druckman.

There are a lot of flavors beyond banana hanging out in this loaf: coconut, chocolate, tahini and almond extract. They get along so well that you end up with something that tastes notably better than almost any other banana bread you’ve had before. It’s cocoa-rich, nutty and not too sweet. Using the whole fruit — both banana flesh and peel — punches up the banana flavor, but doesn’t overshadow the other notes. Nadiya Hussain’s recipe offers numerous substitutions; you could play up nutty notes by opting for almond butter and almond milk, or swap in olive oil in place of coconut oil. The recipe inspires infinite permutations. —Charlotte Druckman

Whole-Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup/100 grams virgin (unrefined) coconut oil, plus more for greasing the pan (see Tip)
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 ¼ cups/280 grams all-purpose flour, plus 1 1/2 teaspoons for tossing peels
  • ¼ cup/64 grams tahini (or nut butter of your choice)
  • cup/80 milliliters oat milk, nut milk or dairy milk of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups/200 grams coconut palm or dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup/20 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Unsalted vegan or nonvegan butter (optional), for serving

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan with coconut oil and line it with parchment.
  2. Wash the bananas then trim and discard the tips. Peel the bananas, then slice the peels crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick strips. Place them in a small bowl and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoons flour to coat; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, use a fork to smush the bananas into a rough purée. (Don’t worry about small lumps.) Add the coconut oil, tahini, oat milk, almond and vanilla extracts, and salt. Beat together with a whisk to thoroughly incorporate and create a thick batter. Add the sugar and beat with the whisk to combine.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the batter and fold it in using a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Fold the floured banana peels into the batter.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top into an even layer. Bake for about 55 to 65 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then lift it out onto a baking rack using the parchment. Let it cool a bit, then serve warm with butter slathered on top, if using, or let it cool completely if you want to store it for later. (Wrapped tightly, the bread will keep at room temperature for about 4 days.)

Tip:  Unrefined, virgin coconut oil is recommended here because it lends coconut flavor. Refined coconut oil would also work, but since it’s a neutral-flavored oil, your banana bread won’t have as pronounced coconut flavor.

Yield:  1 (8-inch loaf)

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Image c/o Julia Gartland for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Liza Jernow.

Does the world need more Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes? Yes, yes, it does! 

“Our 11 Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes,” a compilation by Margaux Laskey for the The New York Times, is now saved on my computer because, Hon, you can bet I’ll be working my way down the list. I tried the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, attributed to Ruth Wakefield, the 1930’s inventor of the chocolate chip cookie, who ran the Toll House Inn, a popular restaurant in eastern Massachusetts, with her husband.

Using an ice pick, Wakefield broke a semisweet chocolate bar into little bits, mixed them into brown-sugar dough, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. In 1939, she sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages (reportedly for only $1) and was hired to write recipes for the company, which supposedly supplied her with free chocolate for life. This recipe is very close to Mrs. Wakefield’s original (hers called for a teaspoon of hot water and 1/2-teaspoon-sized cookies), and the one you’ll still find on the back of every yellow bag of Nestlé chocolate chips.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups/12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
  2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixing bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  4. Refrigerate for about an hour.
  5. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield:  approximately 5 dozen

Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Parsley Gremolata

Shout out to my daughter Morgan and her new cookbook Eating Out Loud, Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day by Eden Grinshpan. I love it when Morgan cooks dinner!

Of the cauliflower– ‘Its deep, roast-y deliciousness is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet, herbaceous date-parsley gremolata. You are going to be blown away by how much brightness you get from the preserved lemon and how the dates balance the tartness with their dense texture.”Of the cauliflower– “Its deep, roast-y deliciousness is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet, herbaceous date-parsley gremolata. You are going to be blown away by how much brightness you get from the preserved lemon* and how the dates balance the tartness with their dense texture.’

Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan

Roasted Cauliflower with Date-Parsley Gremolata

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Gremolata

  • 1/2 cup chopped pitted Medjool dates (about 5)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • approx. 1/2 lemon juice, squeezed from fresh lemon (*The recipe calls for preserved lemon, but Morgan used freshly squeezed lemon juice.)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Roast the cauliflower: Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the olive oil and salt. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet (or two-you want to make sure the florets have room to breathe so that they get cartelized and crispy instead of steamed) and roast until the cauliflower is golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Make the gremolata: In a large bowl, mix together the dates, sparsely, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, and salt. If making this ahead, leave out the vinegar until just before you serve.
  4. Scatter the gremolata over the roasted cauliflower and serve.
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Passover Seder, Easy Charosets Recipe

Charosets and desserts are usually my contribution to our extended family’s Passover seder. But, due to the pandemic and worry over COVID, this is the second year we aren’t all gathering. I always thought Charosets on the seder plate was a representation of mortar enslaved Jews used to when they were forced to build those gorgeous pyramids in Egypt. Little did I know there this dish’s significance was up for discussion!

Meaning 

Charoset (חֲרֽוֹסֶת, pronounced ha-row-sit) is a sticky, sweet symbolic food that Jews eat during the Passover seder every year. The word chariest derives from the Hebrew word cheres (חרס), which means “clay.” 

In some Middle Eastern Jewish cultures, the sweet condiment is known as halegh.

Origins 

Charoset represents the mortar that the Israelites used to make bricks while they were slaves in Egypt. The idea originates in Exodus 1:13–14, which says,

‘The Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with back-breaking labor, and they embittered their lives with hard labor, with clay and with bricks and with all kinds of labor in the fields—all their work that they worked with them with back-breaking labor.’

The concept of charoset as a symbolic food first appears in the Mishnah (Pesachim 114a) in a disagreement between the sages about the reason forcharosetand whether it is a mitzvah (commandment) to eat it at Passover.

According to one opinion, the sweet paste is meant to remind people of the mortar used by the Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt, while another says that the charoset is meant to remind the modern Jewish people of the apple trees in Egypt. This second opinion is tied to the fact that, supposedly, the Israelite women would quietly, painlessly give birth beneath apple trees so that the Egyptians would never know that a baby boy was born. Although both opinions add to the Passover experience, most agree that the first opinion reigns supreme (Maimonides, The Book of Seasons 7:11).

by Ariela Pelaia, Learn Religions, June 25, 2019

Charosets

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnut pieces (or finely ground walnuts)
  • 3 large apples
  • 4 Tablespoons sweet red wine, or to taste
  • 4 Tablespoons honey, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger, or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, or to taste
  • dash nutmeg

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, process walnuts until finely ground, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  2. Peel apples, core and cut into quarters. Process in food processor until finely chopped. Place in mixing bowl.
  3. Add remaining ingredients. Combine well and taste to correct seasonings.

Passover Apple Cake

Passover starts Saturday, March 27, 2021 and the entire holiday is focused on food! There’s what we can’t eat:  bread and anything that can rise bread-like, such as corn. And there’s what we can eat:  matzah, better known as crunchy cardboard (unless it’s soaked in eggs and milk and fried into Matzah Brei). Recipes that turn matzah meal, cake meal, and other Passover products into something edible–maybe even delicious–are coveted and shared. I substituted flour for matzah meal and converted an Apple Cake recipe to Pesadich, the term for food that’s allowed during the holiday.

If I have time in between cleaning out my fridge and cabinets and cooking for the holiday, I’ll post more recipes.

Hag Semach or Happy Holiday, Hon!

To make enough Apple Cake for 12 people, I tripled the ingredients, listed below, and added two batters-worth to a bundt cake pan and one batter-worth to the recommended 8″ x 8″ cake pan so that there will be enough dessert for 12 people.

Passover Apple Cake

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I divided this into 3/4 cup granulated sugar to be mixed with eggs and 3/4 cups combo granulated sugar and brown sugar to be mixed with spices.)
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (It may have been redundant to add this, but I had it in the house, so figured why not?)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 5 medium apples, such as Golden Delicious or Crispin, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 5 cups)
  • 3/4 cup matzo cake meal (I ran out of matzo cake meal, so I added rice flour to make up the difference.)
  • 1/3 cup raisins (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a rack set in the center. Lightly spray an 8-inch-square glass baking dish with cooking spray; set aside. (I used a metal, square baking dish.)
  2. Mix together walnuts, 3/4 cup sugar (combo granulated and brown sugar), nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cardamom, and clover in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat eggs on medium speed until well combined. Slowly beat in remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until mixture is thick and foamy. With the mixer running, slowly pour in oil. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Stir in matzo cake meal.
  4. Pour half of the batter into prepared cake pan. Add a layer of apples (just add them haphazardly), sprinkle raisins and half of the walnut/spice mixture. Pour remaining batter in pan. Top with remaining apples and sprinkle remaining walnut/spice mixture over apples.
  5. Transfer cake to oven and bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the baking dish very slightly and topping begins to caramelize, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove cake from oven and let stand for several hours until completely cool, before cutting. Keep cake covered tightly with plastic wrap for up to 2 days, as the flavor improves with age.

Yield: Makes one 8-inch square cake.

Hamantashen–Easy Recipe

Raspberry, apricot and chocolate Hamantaschen

The Jewish holiday of Purim may have ended, but I’ve only just started baking Hamantaschen! It may seem surprising, but I am a Hamantaschen newbie and there are many more flavors I’d like to try. How do apple, lemon and Nutella filling sound? For the holiday, Oheb Shalom Congregation hosted an online baking class for the Hebrew School kids. I took the opportunity to clean off my counter, dust it with flour, and get rolling!

What’s your favorite filling?

Easy Hamantaschen

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature (Margarine may be substituted to make cookies parve.)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons Orange juice (iIf you don’t have OJ, lemon juice will work.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • any flavor of filling such as jelly or chocolate chips (Tip: pie filling may have a bit more body, but I haven’t tried it yet.)

Directions:

  1. With hand or stand mixer, mix together butter (or margarine), egg, sugar, vanilla, and orange juice (or lemon juice).
  2. Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Roll out dough on a floured board to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut into circles. Fill the circle with approximately 1 teaspoon filling and pinch dough into triangles around the filling. Place on cooking sheet. (Tip: Collect extra dough and combine for more cookies.)
  4. Bake at 375-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. 

Yield: Depends on size of circles. I used a juice glass as a cookie cutter and made 30 cookies.

Valentines Day Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Valentines Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookie recipe + royal icing = the perfect Valentine’s Day cookies! Happy baking, hon.

(Tip–This recipe makes a large amount of cookie dough. You can make all of it or use half and freeze half.*)

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 cups butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to butter/ sugar mixture in increments until the flour mixture is completely incorporated.
  3. Chill mixture in fridge for about one hour then let sit on counter while you prepare the surface you are using to roll out the dough.  
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  5. Roll dough to desired thickness and cut into shapes. Bake cookies on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper but you may bake them directly on your ungreased cookie sheets.
  6. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges turn slightly brown.

Yield:  Whole recipe makes approximately 4 dozen cookies, depending on cookie cutter size.

Royal Icing

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons of meringue or dried egg white powder (I used the brand Deb El and a product called Just Whites.)
  • 6 Tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla, optional (note: adding vanilla adds flavor but tints the color of the icing)
  • food coloring, optional
  • sprinkles, decorating sugar

Directions:

  1. Beat all ingredients 4 to 5 minutes
 by hand.
  2. Stir in optional flavorings.
  3. Tip: Cut icing in half, keeping one half white and adding a couple drops of food coloring to the other half. Thin icing, if needed with extra Tablespoons warm water. Decorate as desired.
  4. Let icing dry. 

*After I defrosted the second half of the dough, I had to knead it a few minutes before I could work with it.

 

What’s For Dinner? Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs Recipe

Photo care of Eli Kovacs.

In the last few weeks, several friends and family members have asked for this recipe. Maybe the cold weather and snow has put them in the mood or maybe it’s because it’s delicious. Either way, this Sweet-n-Sour Meatballs recipe is easy and a winner!

Happy cooking, hon.

–I prepare and bake my meatballs before simmering them in sauce for approximately 25 minutes.

–Don’t eat meat? Try Trader Joe’s “Meatless Meatballs” or a similar product. Simmer them in the Sweet-n-Sour for about 25 minutes.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:  In a shallow pan, mix one 15-oz can of whole berry cranberry sauce with about 8 ounces of chili sauce. Simmer meatballs in sauce on medium to medium-high, adding salt and pepper and any other spices you like to taste. Simmer for about 25 minutes. Serve over pasta or rice.

Meatballs ready to simmer in your sauce of choice.
Meatballs ready to simmer in your favorite sauce.

Meatballs

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 cup bread crumbs

about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water

1 egg

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley (or fresh parsely)

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

between 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (or 1/4 ground garlic)

dash of black pepper and dash onion powder (or about 1 tsp finely chopped onion)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking trays with heavy duty foil and spray with non-stick spray.  Combine ground beef with the bread crumbs, water, egg and spices.  Mix thoroughly.  Form meatballs and line trays.  Cook for approximately 25 to 30 minutes total, checking meatballs after 10 to 15 minutes.  I turn each meatball over and rotate trays in oven for more even cooking.  When you think the meatballs are done, cut one in half to make sure it’s brown all the way through. They can be light brown on the inside and not overly cooked on the outside since they will cook more when simmered in sauce.

Serving the same night? Simmer in sauce on medium to medium-low heat for approximately 25 minutes.  Serving in the future? Cool first, then refrigerate for a few days or freeze in an airtight container.

Yield: depends on the size of the meatballs, but about a couple dozen.

Hearty and Healthy Beef Stew

Cold Weather Comfort Food

I’ve made Beef Stew before, but wanted to change it up. Researching other recipes, I found some that simmered in a crockpot and some that baked in an oven. (Yes, you read right. Who knew?). I decided to use a crockpot, combining recipes for Ina Garten’s “Ultimate Beef Stew” (Food Network) and Chungah’s “Slow Cooker Beef Stew” (Damn Delicious). The only addition needed? A loaf of bread. This combination requires a bit of prep time, but it’s now my go-to Beef Stew recipe because it was hearty, healthy, savory, and delicious! Plus, there was enough leftover for future meals. Yay!

Hon, hope you find your own comfort during this strangest of holiday seasons.

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cups chopped fennel*, trimmed and cored (1 large bulb)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including the juices
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 pound carrots (4-5 carrots), scrubbed and cut 1/2 inch thick diagonally
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes (2 large potatoes), scrubbed, 1-inch diced
  • 2 celery stalks, cut diagonally into slices
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and sliced lengthwise
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Season beef with salt and pepper, to taste. Add beef to the skillet and cook until evenly browned, about 2-3 minutes. (Tip: Drain cooked beef on paper towels before adding to crockpot. If there’s a lot of oil left in skillet, once it cools, wipe it down before heating up wine.)
  3. Place beef, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, and peas into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in beef broth, Worcestershire, thyme, paprika, turmeric, and bay leaves.
  4. Heat 1/3 cup of the wine in skillet over medium heat. Add onions, fennel, garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir tomato paste and diced tomatoes into the vegetables. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. Add to crockpot. Stir ingredients until well combined; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or high heat for 3-4 hours.

Notes:

–The original recipes call for less meat, but I used 3 pounds so that there’d be enough for now and later.

–If, like me, you’ve never cut fennel before, click here to watch Melissa Clark’s video. Now I know!

Yield: Approximately 8-10 servings.

Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Photo courtesy of Foodnetwork.com.

How was your Thanksgiving, Hon?

Ours was wonderful, not only because the unseasonably warm weather allowed our family to spend the day outside, but because it started with Hot Mulled Apple Cider. Shout out to my daughter Morgan who whipped up this delicious and festive Fall drink. Want to make your own? Check out this easy recipe from Ina Garden for Foodnetwork.com.

Ingredients:

  • 16 cups pure apple juice or fresh apple cider
  • Four 2-inch cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, peels and juice
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 6 star anise (Morgan used whiskey instead.)

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Pour into mugs and serve.