Saturday, December 29, 2018

Boozy Banana Bread for New Years Day

I didn't take any pictures or post any recipes over Christmas. We enjoyed having my dad and two of visiting for several days and I used all of my energy cooking for, and spending time with them. Of course there was food a plenty, and it feels like I've only just finished doing all of the dishes. I'm going to spend some time compiling the menus I served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and I'll make time to share of few of the recipes as well.  Meanwhile, New Years Day is already upon us (how on earth is this possible?) and since I once again have an empty house I'm keeping myself company by baking.

One of the very first food blogs I started following about 15 yrs ago was Chez Pim, her blog is no longer active, but her instagram is fabulous.  Pim was one of the original food bloggers, now turned famous restauranteur in Thailand.  Back then we were all still happy to eat gluten and dairy for breakfast lunch and dinner, and I was 15 years younger so I could get away with it. One of my favorite recipes was for a very un-fussy, but delicately nuanced banana bread. She called it the morning after banana bread, due in part to the ingredients of rum and instant-espresso, but I also think because it tastes that much better after day.  Over the years I've tinkered with her recipe, using brown sugar for white, browning my butter, subbing rum for whiskey. I won't say my version is better, but it's just as good.

It's the perfect sweet loaf to serve on New Year's Day. It goes just as well with a cup of coffee as it does with champagne bacon and eggs.

Banana Bread - for New Year's Day


3 large ripe bananas
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso
1/3 cup browned butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt


Pre-heat oven to 350F
Grease your baking pan or pans with butter. I used 3 small loaf pans, but a standard 8.5" x 4.5"pan will work just fine.

Brown the butter:  I've found the best directions for this on are here on Serious Eats.   cool while combining the first few ingredients. It doesn't have to cool completely - we'll add is slowly enough as not to scald the eggs. 

In a stand mixer mash the bananas for a few moments before adding the sugar.
Mix a minute more on high speed before adding the egg, and then the sour cream.
Add the instant coffee.

Turn the mixer speed up to high for a few seconds.
Slow the mixer to medium speed and even more slowly add the browned butter in a continuous drizzle.  The batter will become silky smooth. 

In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking soda.
Add this slowly to the mixture to avoid having flour go all over the kitchen.

Once this is thoroughly combined, add the rum, mix just a bit more.  

Pour the batter into your prepared pan (or pans).  Sprinkle the top with a teaspoon or so of white sugar (it will make for a nice little crust).
Bake at 350 for 1 hour. 
Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing and adding a slab of salted butter.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Danish Pebernødder (pepper nuts... or pepper cookies)

Pebernødder, served on traditional Danish Christmas porcelain from Royal Copenhagen

The first time I had these delectable Danish cookies was in Copenhagen, just a few days before Christmas. Thor took me to Hviids Vinstue, a 300 year old tavern where Hans Christian Andersen was known to frequent. They're known for their glög or mulled wine, which is outstanding, but I also remember the large glass bowls of pebernørdder for eating with the warm drink.  Danes celebrate Christmas better than anyone else and their traditions are long standing. Everywhere we went there were plates of cookies to be served with a cup of coffee or some glög.
Hviids Vinstue

a cozy corner inside of Hviids Vinstue

These Danish Pebernødder, translated as pepper nuts, are in my opinion the perfect Christmas cookie.  They're bite sized, not too sweet, and spiced to perfection. They're traditionally the size of a hazlenut and quite crunchy. I've tinkered with the recipe over the years to soften the cookie just a bit, and I make it just a little bit larger so you really get a mouthful of spice.

Merry Christmas
Glædelig Jul ! 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Southwest (style) Chicken Pot Pie

seriously, the only picture i took.... to busy tasting

I grew up eating chicken pot pie for dinner on a regular basis. My mother's pie crusts are legendary and she added a little curry in her chicken filling. I have never been able to replicate her pastry, and consequently never attempted her pot pie recipe, after all a flaky pie crust is at least half of the enjoyment of this dish.

Recently we visited friends in Santa Fe and I brought home a few jars of locally roasted green chiles. At first I thought to try my hand at posole, but found myself wanting something creamier and richer. The final result is what I'm now referring to as a Southwest Chicken Pot Pie. Instead of pastry I baked it with a cornbread top crust. I made this a few weeks ago for a luncheon on a cold winter afternoon and everyone went back for a second helping - which, if you've ever been to ladies' luncheon, you know is a good sign.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Have your Crab Cake and eat it too.

Southwest -style Crab Cakes with avocado crema

Last week I spent several hours working on a different recipe for this column, but for reasons yet known, I couldn’t get it quite right. On Saturday evening I was making crab cakes for my book group, and decided to poll my small cadre of Instagram followers as to which recipe they’d prefer. To my surprise and delight the crab cakes took a decisive victory.  In my experience crab cakes can be absolutely decadent, or they can be completely terrible. Of course I like to think mine are the former. The trick to making good crab cakes is to stop thinking of them as cakes.  They’re more like crab patties, dredged in bread crumps at the last minute, and pan fried in olive oil just long enough to set the egg batter and impart a golden crisp. The crab will still be juicy and flavorful, with a little bite from the chipotle and jalapeño. I love to finish this recipe with a little avocado crema, which is so smooth and the citrus really brightens the flavor. It’s the perfect compliment the to crispy “cakes”.  These crab cakes are best served hot and fresh. You can keep them warm in a 250 degree oven if you’re making a large batch, but don’t wait too long before eating them. If you prefer a bit more spice, add a drop or two of hot sauce right before serving.

Friday, June 8, 2018

that remoulade i was talking a month ago.

Now that summer is in full swing here in the Midwest (hottest May on record in over 50yrs), I've completely reverted to a few easy, but good solid standbys. #1 on the list is roasted shrimp with a dijon remoulade.  #2 is a good margarita.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen me dipping my shrimp on a regular rotation. I use Ina Garten's recipe for Roasted Shrimp because it's already perfect, but I've never been a huge fan of cocktail sauce. The Palm Beach Grill serves their shrimp w/ a Dijon sauce that is so good, and I've been trying to replicate it for a while (I'm not even sure if what I've arrived at is techincally a remoulade).  Below is the recipe for a sauce that pairs perfectly with everything from roasted shrimp, to a salad of romaine and garlic scapes, or on top of scrambled eggs and toast.  It will last in the fridge for much longer than you'll be able to keep it around.

Dijon Remoulade:

1/4 cup good mayonnaise (personally, I like Dukes - I've also made this using vegan mayonnaise and it's still quite good)
1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon minced garlic
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly using a small whisk or a fork.  Mixture should be homogenious and very creamy. Dip Trip, Flip Fantasia.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

It's never too late for Carrot Cake

This recipe has been in my family as long as I can remember.  Both of my grandmothers made a version of this cake, one had raisins, the other walnuts, but they were always three layers, with the thickest sweetest swaths of cream cheese frosting between the layers, and finished with generous layer of sweetened shredded coconut. My dad still makes his mother's version on a regular basis. My sister and I always fret about the calories, yet that's never stopped us from splitting a second piece.

My version of this cake isn't that much lighter, and I promise that it tastes just as decadent, but it's at least gluten free, and can be grain free if your prefer (see recipe notes). The fruit forward flavor of carrot and pineapple are the stars of this show, and I actually think the paleo flour holds a bit more moisture for a richer crumb.  I usually make this in a bundt pan, and drizzle it with a goat cheese/ nut milk/ sugar or honey drizzle.  However,  since it's Easter, I decided to go with the extra icing, and add unsweetened coconut flakes. It's only two layers, and the frosting is a half and half combination of goat cheese and a coconut oil based frosting.  It's not as rich as butter, but still adds the sweet tang that compliments the cake.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

pancakes all day

Last night I ate pancakes for dinner. It was absolutely frigid out, and I was craving something comforting, sweet, and warm.... Mr. Butter was out for a business dinner, so I made pancakes.  I arranged my plate, laptop, tv remote, and phone on my crosslegged lap, and tucked in to a few episodes of The Crown.
This has become one of my favorite recipes for two reasons: one because it so simple, and two it's relatively healthy. These are paleo pancakes, and they only have 7 ingredients (4 of which are optional spices/flavoring/blueberries).  I'm almost not embarrassed to admit I have these pancakes at least once a week, usually for breakfast but sometimes for a snack w afternoon coffee, occasionally for dinner, and ALWAYS w a slug of good maple syrup.