Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Food for Failure

Honestly.....I'm a self confessed recovering perfectionist. I'm not a fan of making mistakes, but I recently read something that inspired me. Thank You Julia Child. French cooking has always been fascinating to me and slightly intimidating. So, I recently, and very excitedly, purchased "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". After reading the forward this afternoon and looking at the over flowing bowl of bananas...I decided to make banana bread. Okay...true, banana bread is most obviously not french. But for some reason lately my kids, who normally devour bananas, haven't seemed to notice the fruit bowl and I'm sick of freezing them, (which I hate because they turn out watery) eating them too ripe (which I also despise) or throwing them away, (which is what happens most of the time). did french cooking and fear of failure lead me to banana bread? Well... First of all, I didn't have all the ingredients, although I very rarely stick to a recipe completely anyway. But the big one is this whole 'share stuff on a blog' thing which is.... well.....daunting to a perfectionist, even a recovering one. So, not too dissimilar to getting on the plane when you are afraid of flying......I'm diving in, covered in flour, ready to report success or failure with my banana bread and because I'm bored during the day and I need something to do...why not blog, cook and blog some more?? So I start with this recipe for Banana bread, a bread that I must admit, I don't even really like. You know the story.....have a food you don't like because yada yada yada and then the story ends badly at this point. For me banana bread = college cafeteria, training table with the volleyball team...and let's just say...too much banana bread was consumed! :)

One other thing to thank Julia for....butter. This recipe does not use uses butter. I know Julia would like that! Also, Julia would want you to just cook, and forget the rest, especially failure. Art imitating life......... forget yourself and just cook!

So here's Emeril Legasse's recipe for banana bread from 2003 which I found on the FoodTV network recipe sight.....with a few variations.

Banana Bread
10 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas) ----I used three medium today and didn't measure because I don't like mashing bananas.

1/2 cup sour cream ----- I used full fat lovely Greek Plain Yogurt. I didn't have sour cream.
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cake flour ----- I used all purpose.

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar ---- I rounded up to almost a cup. Seemed logical.
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts ----I didn't toast them, because I didn't want to.
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips ----They weren't in the original recipe...but I'm also a self confessed choco-holic.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Lightly grease a loaf pan with that one little teaspoon of butter, (or more if you need it). It gives the dimensions of the pan, but just use what you have and watch it cook. A loaf pan is a loaf pan, isn't it?

Puree the bananas, sour cream (or yogurt), eggs and vanilla in a food processor.

Sift the cake flour (or regular flour), sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment. Add the remaining 10 tablespoons butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended about 30 seconds. (Mine needed a bit more power and speed) Add the banana mixture in 2 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts.

Pour in the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely.

So, the result.....Wow!! Even though it has a nice crunchy crust on the outside it is moist and chocolatey on the inside. The texture is a bit crumbly. While hot, it was quite crumbly. A wonderful flavor, not too greasy. Somehow, it is actually light and not like those denser type of stupid banana breads that you feel you could tile your floor with. I digress...too much description. This banana bread has a nice cake like texture, yet a bit more heavy than cake. My family loved it. For a sweeter version use milk chocolate chips. I wish I had used dark chocolate chips, like Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips instead. Overall...I'd give it 4 measuring spoons out of five.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Food & Photography
Just a reminder....the leaves are changing. Make sure you look to the hills often, or better yet go explore and take your camera. Mother nature is making her one time a year quilt. The hues of early red mixed with greens still yet to change are so beautiful.

I'm also craving soups, stews, and hearty fall dishes. I have a really simple request from said "mother nature"....please, some cooler weather??? I want to bake, braise, stew and roast food. Put a fork in me, I'm pretty sure that I've been fully baked this summer.'s time for Fall!! Look for some great fall recipes to come.

The only reason for seasons are so that when it is too hot, you can look forward to fall, and when it is too cold, you can look forward to spring. Fall/Spring....if the weather is like that where you live all year round....well, that's heaven!!