Thursday, October 7, 2010

Go Bananas

What do you do when you are faced with this?

Why, make banana bread, of course!!

Banana bread is one of those staples that I am nearly able to concoct in my sleep. Although, I like to keep it evolving. Sometimes I'm in the mood for fancy-schmancy complete with walnuts and coconut, other times simple-and-sweet, studded with a few spare banana slices is my desire.

I found my equilibrium in this loaf, however. Needing a tasty treat for dessert to bring along for a dinner party with girlfriends, it was a perfect balance of sweetness with those well-ripened bananas and heartiness with the oat bran and touch of whole wheat flour. It doubled as breakfast the next morning....
Sweet, Wholesome Banana Bread
1 lemon, juiced
3 very ripe bananas (and an extra for slicing on top)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour (or all 1 1/2 c. whole wheat)
1/2 c. oat bran
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mash bananas in a large bowl. Mix in lemon juice. Cream butter and sugar together, and add to banana mixture.
Mix dry ingredients together. Stir into banana mixture. It should be thick and lumpy.
Grease a loaf pan. Place batter into loaf pan. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until inserted knife comes out clean.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Soup's On!

I have been patiently waiting for the arrival of Autumn. The aromas, the flavors, the warmth of Fall foods produce a great sense of comfort I look forward to as the days cool and shorten.

It's been slow arriving this year. We've been 'enjoying' an Indian summer here with several days in the triple digits last week. (Spare the air days at the end of September?!) We've been taunted by cooler evenings, but the days have remained warm.

I've been flipping through my cookbooks over the past few weeks, dog-earing delicious soup recipes. Waiting, waiting, waiting.....

Yesterday, it arrived. Between the clouds and my cold, the time had finally come for some good, ol' fashioned soup-making.

Although this recipe is enough to feed a family of 12, this is not a problem if this does not fit your family profile. Just freeze the remainder or host a dinner party. Your friends will thank you, I promise.

This soup is very easy to cook, although preparation time is about 30 minutes. A sharp knife will ease the process.

Vegetable Soup

adapted from French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

2 potatoes

1 onion, peeled and quartered

2 garlic cloves, peeled

salt and pepper, to taste

4 leeks

1/2 small cabbage

3 celery ribs

2 turnips

4 carrots

4 T. butter

2 c. canned whole or chopped tomatoes

2 sprigs of parsley

basil (fresh is best, but I used dried)

2 bay leaves

Peel, wash, and chop potatoes. Place in small pot with onions, garlic and salt and pepper. Cover with water and boil until tender. Drain and set aside.

Wash other vegetables and chop them. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in an 8 or 15 qt. pot. Add vegetables and 'sweat' them for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomatoes, potatoes, onion and garlic, and cover with water. Place parsley, basil and bay leaves in pot, stirring in. Cook until all vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Remove the bay leaves. Drain and reserve the liquid.

Puree the cooked vegetables in a food processor. (I used a blender which caused the soup to be a bit thicker in the final analysis.) Use the reserved liquid to thin out your soup. (I didn't use much because I like a thicker soup.)

Adjust the seasonings to your taste.

Before serving, add a dollop of creme fraiche. Can be enjoyed hot or cold.