Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A banana bread for breakfast

Is it just me, or is banana bread not really a breakfast food?
Maybe it's just me.
I dunno.
It's just, banana bread has always seems more of a cake to me. I mean sure, it's bread-shaped and yes, it has "bread" in the name. But it's got so much sugar and oil and, I don't know, fluffy cakeness.

Hold it, hold it. This is not me saying that I don't LOVE banana "bread." To the contrary, I have dreams about the stuff. But the dreams are more of the "slathered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream" variety than the "healthy breakfast" variety.

So yesterday, sick of jostling around the pile of brown bananas in the freezer, I decided to attempt a breakfast-worthy banana bread. And yes, I know I frequently say that pie is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. But with this I guess I was going for something, I don't know, actually healthy?

I started with my favorite unhealthy banana bread recipe, given to me a few years ago by a student's mother. Who I may have harrassed daily until she did. What, that's not an appropriate use of parent contact information? Whatever, you've never tasted her banana bread! It's moist and sweet and fluffy. It's also got a full cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of melted butter in one loaf. But it is GOOD. So I started there, and I tweaked. Then I tweaked some more. And I ended up with something pretty delightful - it's still a bit sweet and it's definitely moist and flavorful, but it has no butter or oil, no refined sugar, a little crunch from the pepitas, and a good amount of whole wheat flour. Any doubts about its breakfast-worthiness were quickly dispelled this morning when the three of us managed to put away all but an inch of it before 8 am.

Jesse says it looks like a dinosaur's back.

Breakfast Banana Bread
Makes one large loaf

1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
3 mashed bananas
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup pepitas

Preheat oven to 325 and grease a loaf pan.

In a dry skillet, toast pepitas over medium heat. As soon as they start making popping noises (I didn't even know they did this!) take them off the heat and set aside.

Beat honey, egg, and bananas. Some lumps are ok.
Add in flours, salt and baking soda and mix just until incorporated.
Mix in apple sauce.
Fold in pepitas.
Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 55 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

~Ashby


honey - Green Hive Honey, Camden Maine
flours - King Arthur flours, Vermont
egg - Bowdoin Family Egg Farm, Warren Maine
appleasauce - our front yard 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt

It's probably pretty obvious right now that I have a thing for rhubarb. So far in the short life of this oft-abandoned blog I've already shared rhubarb compote, rhubarb-blueberry bars, and jammers with strawberry-rhubarb jam. I can't seem to get enough of this plucky vegetable - it pushes out of the ground right when I am about to burst from a lack of brightness in my diet, like a beacon of deliciousness. It's incredibly versatile - sweet things like rhubarb pie and dumplings (oooh, I'll share those with you soon) are an obvious answer to the welcome problem of "too much" rhubarb, but it also shines in more savory dishes, which is how I'm planning to experiment this spring. 

My plants are showing their cute little noses above ground right now, and in the midst of planning for this new rhubarb season, I came across one last, lonely bag of frozen stalks in our basement freezer. Wanting to use it up before the new batch ripened, I decided to make some frozen yogurt. Using David Lebovitz's basic frozen yogurt recipe from The Perfect Scoop (lovelovelove), I whipped up a rhubarb compote, chilled it, stirred it into the yogurt base and froze it. The end.



Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt
Makes almost 3 quarts

3 cups whole milk yogurt
3/4 cups white sugar
1 tsp vanilla (or lemon) extract
4 cups chopped rhubarb (frozen is fine)
two handfuls (1/3 cup?) white sugar

In a saucepan, add the rhubarb to just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.
Toss in some sugar, bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium-low and let it cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and bright pink and thick. Resist the urge to eat it all with a spoon right now. Really, I know it's difficult.
Pour into a bowl and chill completely in the fridge, at least an hour.
You'll notice that this is the process for making Rhubarb Compote)



In a bowl, stir yogurt, sugar and vanilla or lemon. Pop this in the fridge, too.

When everything's fully chilled, stir the yogurt and rhubarb compote together, and freeze half in your ice cream maker. When that half is done, immediately repeat with the other half, before the bowl of your ice cream maker warms up.

We ate this out of mugs sitting on the living room floor, but Jesse suggested crumbling graham crackers over a scoop, or sandwiching some between two ginger cookies, and I think those are both fabulous ideas, too.

~Ashby