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Archive for January, 2010

Salted Banana Muffins



I was planning on making banana bread.  I was planning on making it two full weeks ago, but then the holidays came, and I almost died.

The secret to sweet, moist, banana-y banana bread is to use mushy, black bananas as the starch has converted to sugar.  My two bananas hit that point one week ago and have sitting out, turning blacker and mushier every day.  Being American, I wanted to throw them away, but my mom, raised in Thailand, insisted they were still good.  “There’s no mold – they’re fine,” she says matter-of-factly.  Hmm, and here I thought mold was one of nature’s many signs that a food was no longer fit for human consumption.

So I used the two mushy bananas and combined two favorite recipes, All Recipes’ Banana Banana Bread and All Recipes’ Banana Crumb Muffins.  I did add ¼ cup of coconut milk, which I had lying in my refrigerator from the last time I made mochi cake.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup softened butter
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp salt

I like that the Banana Banana Bread has no added liquid to dilute the banana taste, but I resent the dense texture of the bread.  Therefore I used 1 egg and should have stuck to the 1 ½ cups of flour in the muffin recipe.  I was trying to compensate for the coconut milk.

I creamed the butter and sugar, then added the egg, vanilla and salt.  I added the whole bananas and mixed just until they were broken.  I like chunks of banana in my baked banana products.  I sifted the flour, baking soda and baking powder in another bowl and added it to the wet ingredients in two batches, folding just until mixed.

I put them in paper lined cupcake tins and sprinkled them with rock sugar.  I added black sesame seeds to some and sea salt to others.  I made one special muffin with both sesame and sea salt for myself.  I was thinking about banana salted caramel cake, which I have only read about.  I baked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and then broiled for 1 minute.  I wish I had baked them for 22 minutes instead because the bottoms were slightly undone, and my mom thinks that broiling dries them out.

I like how much they rose, and I like the lovely yellow color peeking out from the browned tops.  I should have used less flour and omitted the vanilla as it masks the banana flavor.  The muffins were incredibly sweet because the of the bananas, and I like the addition of sesame seeds.  I personally liked the salt, but my mom and friend were not fans.  Maybe I just like salt granules.

All in all, I am over cake.  I am tired of the monotonous texture and stuffy feeling in my stomach.  On to tarts, cookies, breads, pies, brownies and (of course) more mochi cake!  Unfortunately, those things take more preparation than cakes.  Or maybe I just think that.  We shall see.

I just tried a muffin, and it tastes better today than yesterday.  I think banana bread tastes best after sitting for a day or two because the flavors meld.

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I wanted to make a simple tart, so I chose this one.  I am not sure what happened, but I did not have enough crust.  So it looked like this:

I did use my pizza stone, but I baked the tart for a bit longer because the bottom was mushy.  I would use more sugar next time and a different apple (I used Golden Delicious).  It disappeared quickly because I had a party of munchy girls.  The crust was delicious, but I wish I had rolled it out better.

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Banana Cake

I wanted to bake a nice cake for my mom to thank her for all that she’s done this week, but we are all sick of banana bread.  I had some sour cream, cream cheese and old bananas, however, so I found this recipe.  I used 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar, and I added lemon zest and vanilla extract to my frosting.  This cake is good.  The edges have a meringue-like texture, and it is just sweet enough.  I do not think it needs the frosting, but my mom likes it.  I think it’d be perfect with some vanilla ice cream and chopped walnuts or pecans.  Mmm.  It doesn’t look like much, but I promise it’s quite delicious.

Banana Cake with Sour Cream Frosting

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1 1/3 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 large)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

    Preparation

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal baking pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in large bowl until blended. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. Mix in 3/4 cup sour cream, bananas and lemon juice. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and beat until well blended. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

    Bake cake until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on rack. (Can be prepared 2 weeks ahead. Cover cake and freeze. Thaw before continuing.)

    Beat remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, powdered sugar and cream cheese in large bowl until well blended. Spread frosting over cooled cake.

    Courtesy of Bon Apetit.

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    An early birthday present

    I received a wonderful birthday present this Saturday.  A good friend treated me to a cooking demonstration at Roy’s Restaurant in Anaheim.  Please view the menu here.

    It was such a special present because it was personalized and so unexpected.  And while I would probably not try to make any of the rib dishes since they include braising, smoking and grilling, I enjoyed spending a day talking about food with people who love food.  I also enjoyed finishing an ENTIRE souffle (more of a lava cake), which probably contains 1/2 stick of butter and a ridiculous amount of chocolate.  It was delicious, and I would do it again … in a few weeks or so.  Maybe not right now.

    Food truly brings people together, and I have been blessed with coworkers who share Mexican holiday favorites such as champurrada (Mexican hot chocolate flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and thickened with masa), bunuelos (fried tortilla chips covered in cinnamon and sugar), and homemade tamales.  I particularly like the sweet tamales, filled with shredded coconut, pineapple chunks, cinnamon and raisins.

    Visiting the restaurant reminds me that though I love food, I would like to keep it as a hobby rather than as my life.  I saw a giant stand mixer, and the thought of cleaning that monster almost brought tears to my lazy eyes.  I would have documented it all, but my iPhone was being temperamental.

    Updated 1/11/2010

    I just remembered some useful kitchen tips I learned at the demonstration:

    • Flick eggs with your thumb and forefinger in order to release the egg innards from the shell before cracking.
    • Never underestimate the usefulness of parchment paper for non-stick purposes.
    • An easy way to peel ginger is to scrape off the skin with a small spoon.  Ingenious!

    This is my special friend.  Isn’t she lovely?

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    While in Malaysia last January, I noticed a trend: chocolate bars had a habit of being studded with dried fruit, nuts and cornflakes.  I think this is more of a European/Asian thing than it is American, since we are just getting used to things like Ritter Sport Corn Flakes Chocolate and Cadbury Dairy Milk Black Forest.  Then again, we have had things like chocolate covered gummy bears and raisins in the U.S. for quite some time now.  Anyhow, my cousin is a wonderful baker and had these interesting cookies comprised of cornflakes, raisins, chocolate chips and almonds.  My cookies did not quite come out like hers (I think it has to do with conversion problems), but I liked the idea very much and will definitely try again.

    My cousin’s recipe:

    A 250g butter
    250g caster sugar
    2 eggs
    1 tsp vanilla essense

    Sieve:
    2 and half cup self raising flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1 tsp baking soda

    Mix together
    1 cup raisins
    1 cup choc chip
    1 cup chopped nuts (I would just cut the almond nuts into 2)
    2 cups Kelloggs cornflakes, crushed

    Method
    Cream ingredients in A till light and fluffy
    Add in egg and vanilla essence and beat for half a min
    Fold in sieved ingredients
    Mix in all ingredients in B to form dough
    Spoon mixture on greased tray
    Bake cookies in pre heated oven at 170-175C for 15 mins or till golden brown

    My notes:

    Self-rising flour:
    2.5 cups flour
    3.75 tsp baking soda
    1.5 tsp salt

    I used salted butter, and along with the salt in the cornflakes, the cookies were way too salty. I accounted for the salt in the butter but not in the cornflakes.  I added 1.28 tsp salt, and it was too much.  Next time, if I use salted butter, I will not add any salt, or if I do, only 1/4 or 1/2 tsp.  Next time, I will also crush the cornflakes more and chop the almonds into smaller pieces.

    (more…)

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    I do not have a picture of this old friend of a recipe, but I promise you that this unique cornbread will never disappoint.  I have made it for Thanksgiving dinner for the past two years, and it was so popular with the family that I even made it for Christmas.  I have never used the red pepper flakes, but I am sure it is wonderful with them.  I use all purpose flour and substitute 1 tbsp lemon juice + enough milk to make 1 cup for the buttermilk.  I have doubled the recipe in a 9″x13″ rectangular pan, which works wonderfully.  The bread is dense, moist, crumbly and packed with butter-roasted corn.  Delicious.

    I usually serve it with honey butter — any ratio of honey and creamed butter you desire, although I prefer more honey than butter because I like honey’s almost tart sweetness more than I like butter’s creaminess.

    Firecracker Cornbread Recipe

    If you don’t stock whole wheat pastry flour, feel free to substitute unbleached all-purpose flour.

    3 tablespoons butter
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    3/4 cup instant cornmeal (or instant polenta) or fine-grain cornmeal
    1/4 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
    1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
    1 cup buttermilk
    1 large egg
    2 1/2 cups corn, fresh (or at room temperature if previously frozen)

    more butter for drizzling (optional)

    Preheat your oven to 350F degrees, with a rack in the middle.

    Just before you make the batter, in a small saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the red pepper flakes, and pour into a 9-inch pie tin (I have an enameled cast-iron one that is perfect) or equivalent baking dish. Place in the hot oven.

    In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and corn. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir until just combined. Now very carefully remove the hot pan with butter from the oven. Fill it with the cornbread batter, pushing the batter out to the sides if needed. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until the edges are golden and the center is just set. Remove and drizzle with a bit of melted butter (optional).

    Makes 10 slices.

    101 Cookbooks http://www.101cookbooks.com/

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