Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Banana-y Banana Bread



This banana bread isn't for everyone. It's for the real banana lovers, the ones who love anything and everything banana. I think the key to a great banana bread is that it's moist and actually tastes like the fruit it's named after. I can't count how many times have I've excitedly reached for a slice, only to find it dry and tasteless. Here, I add an extra banana to combat both those issues. After experimenting with several recipes, I came up with this concoction for a simple to make and moist banana bread.
  • 4 medium bananas, really ripe, mashed
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl, cream sugar and butter. I found that brown sugar doesn't whisk into the butter as easily as white sugar does, so use a wooden spoon instead. If you find the brown sugar and butter start clumping, use the flat side of the spoon.

In separate smaller bowl, whisk egg and vanilla. Add to the creamed sugar and butter. Then add flour, baking soda and a pinch of salt, and stir just until wet and dry ingredients are combined. Fold in walnuts. Note: too much stirring and you will end up with a dense loaf, so don't over-stir!


Evenly spray a 9"x5" loaf pan with non-stick spray coating. Pour batter into pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. I would check a few spots with this particular recipe, as you might just be hitting a piece of banana and not the actual bread. Cool on rack, then transfer to plate and serve. (Though my mom and I sliced off a couple of piping hot pieces and they were amazing right out of the oven!)

Perfect with coffee or tea, I could eat this everyday. Hope you enjoy!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Kitchen Tip: Don't Toss Out Those Beet Greens!

Don't toss out those beet greens -
those hearty leaves and stalks are full of nutritional value and great taste.

Some of you may already know this but next time you're at your local farmer's market buying beets, don't throw away those greens at the end of your beets. I had bought beets countless times from the market and it would generally go the same way each time. I would pick out the bunch of beets I wanted and then hand them over to the person at the register, who would then twist off the stalks with their flowing leaves and heap them onto a pile of similarly discarded vegetables.

Then one day something different happened. I found myself once again buying beets and the gentleman, instead of tossing aside the stalks, asked me if I'd like to take them home. "Really? What would I do with them?" I had always figured they were inedible so I hadn't given them much thought. He gave me a knowing smile that said I had some things to learn. "Cook them up! They're good for you." He shared that he had been cooking with them for years, using them the way you would spinach, chard or collard greens.

Ever since then, I make sure to pick out the freshest looking bunch with bright green leaves still in tact. They don't hold up as well as the beet root itself so cut and store them separately and try to cook them within a few days.

Here's a quick and easy way to prepare them:
  • 2 cups chopped beet leaves
  • 1 cup chopped beet stalks
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon


Heat 3 tbs olive oil. Add minced garlic and cook for 15-20 seconds, stirring to keep them from burning. Add chopped stalks and sauté for approx. 4 minutes. Then add leaves and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. At the end, stir in lemon juice and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.*

*Alternative version: At the end, stir in lemon juice, 1 tbs soy sauce, 1 tsp honey + pepper. I tried this and the touch of honey adds a slight sweetness to contrast the delicious bitter greens. If trying this version, skip the salt.




You can add these colorful beet stalks and leaves in pretty much any dish
that calls for chard or spinach, such as frittatas, soups and quinoa.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tofu Steaks with Baby Oyster Mushrooms + Carrots



Oysters. Chanterelles. Enoki. Portabellos. Shiitake. I love all types of mushrooms, and with their varying tastes and textures it can be fun to experiment with different recipes. Yesterday, I came upon these lovely baby oyster mushrooms and I couldn't resist taking them home. I stir fried these babies with some flavorful carrots and served them with lightly pan-fried tofu steaks. 

  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 2 cups baby oyster mushrooms, bottoms trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated 
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced thinly on the bias
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili pepper, minced (cerrano or jalapeno)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


Prepare Tofu:
Tofu "Steaks"
Slice tofu so you have four "steaks" approximately 3" x 3"in size. Place on paper towel-lined plate to drain and pat dry. Season each side with salt and pepper. In large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tbs olive oil. Place the four tofu steaks in pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, until lightly crispy and browned. (To check, lift edge gently with a fork.) When done, carefully flip them over and cook the other side until equally crisp.  



                                                                                                             
Stir Fry:
Heat 2 tbs olive oil in large non-stick pan. Add garlic, ginger, chili pepper and carrots and cook on high heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring with wooden spoon to prevent from burning. Rinse mushrooms* and add them to pan. Add soy sauce and 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper. Optional: sprinkle salt to taste. Cook for 4-5 minutes on high heat, stirring occasionally. Serve over tofu steaks.

*There has been much debate over the years on whether or not to wash mushrooms, but I say go ahead and rinse away.
Serve as a starter or a main course. 


Monday, September 2, 2013

Crazy for Kalamatas

Sorry, sorry, sorry dear blog of mine. I know I've neglected you all summer, but I promise to try and be better! Happy to be back to my beloved farmer's market, I've been creating some cool and refreshing salads to beat the crazy heat these days. For me, the key to the perfect salad is using fresh ingredients with contrasting colors and full flavors, pleasing to the eye as well as the palate. A craving for kalamata olives inspired this medley -the olives' rich and briny taste go perfectly with the subtle flavor of the beets. It's easy to make and is perfect for a midday lunch or al fresco dinner.

Golden beets add a splash of sunshine to this salad.

One cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Two medium golden beets, roasted* and diced
10-12 kalamata olives, halved
2 tbs crumbled feta

balsamic vinegar
olive oil
sea salt
cracked black pepper

Combine cherry tomatoes, golden beets, and kalamata olives in medium size bowl. Add a sprinkle of sea salt, 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper and 1 tbs balsamic vinegar. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil and toss lightly. Top with crumbled feta and serve. Perfect accompaniment to a main dish, or enjoy on its own with a piece of crusty french bread.

*The beets can be roasted a day before and kept in the refrigerator to chill until needed.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Brussel Sprouts Madeira

I'm a huge fan of brussel sprouts. I could probably eat them several times a week and not get tired of them -which is a bit surprising considering that just up until a few years ago, I had a strong aversion to these funny little vegetables.

If you follow my blog, you've heard my dismay at being sheltered from many "all-American" vegetables while growing up in a traditional Indian home. I discovered asparagus and artichokes in college and was instantly in love. Brussel sprouts, on the other hand, took a while before entering my food repertoire. I blame it on the media (who else?). The kids in the various tv shows I used to watch seemed to always complain whenever they found brussel sprouts on their plate. "Mom, do I have to eat these? I hate brussel sprouts." And to be honest, they didn't look that appetizing to my ten-year-old self. They looked like miniature cabbages and when I asked my best friend what they tasted like, all she had to say was, "they're kind of mushy." Yum.  

Fast forward to today and I'm obsessed with creating delicious variations with these lovely green gems. It seems like every menu you look at these days features brussel sprouts. They've seemed to join the likes of kale and burrata in the restaurant scene. They really are an easy vegetable to work with so I can see why they've jumped in popularity. You can blanch them, sauté them, roast them. You can cook them whole, halved or shaved. And in just a few minutes you can have an easy and tasty side dish, like this brussel sprouts with madeira wine.

Brussel Sprouts Madeira
  • 10-12 large brussel sprouts
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 tbs (1/4 cup) Madeira wine
  • 3 tbs fresh finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • olive oil

Wash and trim stems of sprouts. Then using a mandoline or a sharp knife, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. Mince garlic cloves. Heat 3 tbs olive oil in medium saute pan. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Add shaved brussel sprouts and parsley; toss lightly to evenly coat with the oil and garlic. Allow them to cook on medium to high heat for a minute, then add Madeira and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add salt and pepper and toss lightly. Bon appetit!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Easy Burrata Bruschetta

Perfect appetizer, or pair with your favorite glass of wine and enjoy as a light dinner.

Burrata. It's on every trendy menu in town. If there is a dish with burrata in it, on it, or near it - I want it. I still remember the first time I tried it. It was several years ago when a friend had ordered it as an appetizer, and my first reaction as I watched him scoop up the gooey looking cheese was, "that does not look very appetizing." I didn't say it, of course, but I clearly remember thinking it. He offered me a bite and I was hooked. How had I never tried this deliciousness before? I had had all sorts of cheeses in my life but somehow had sidestepped this delectable dish. 

Trader Joe's: Basil, Artisan Sourdough Bread
and Organic Whole Wheat Pain Pascal 
Yesterday in the midst of a food-based conversation with a friend, I began having an intense burrata craving. (He tells me I have an unnatural obsession with this cheese. I'm starting to wonder if he's right.) My plan was to get some groceries at Trader Joe's, then hop over to Whole Foods for the burrata, but turns out TJ's carried it! I was hesitant to try it, but this quick fix would have to do. And it did. 

  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 large basil leaves, chopped
  • burrata
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • your favorite crusty bread/baguette, sliced (I tried the two breads pictured here, and they were both great.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In medium size glass bowl, combine tomatoes, garlic and basil. Drizzle 3-4 tbs of olive oil and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper to taste. Stir and let sit for 10-15 minutes. On baking sheet or sheet of foil, arrange slices of bread in a single layer. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until slightly browned and remove from oven. On each slice, spread some of the burrata and top with the tomato mixture. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on top and serve.  

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Red Magic

a gingery red concoction

Just getting over a cold and I'm trying my best to get enough natural vitamins in me. Earlier in the week I made a kale citrus juice, and this morning instead of my regular chai fix, I decided to whip up another tasty concoction.

In your favorite juicer, combine the following:
  • 2 red apples
  • 1 large pomegranate 
  • 2 large red beets
  • 8 tangerines
  • 2 large oranges
  • 3 inches of ginger root (Warning: this may be too much ginger for most people. I wanted that extra kick so I doubled my usual amount.)
Serves 2-4.

Cheers!