Archive for the ‘home cooking’ Category

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Zucchinana Bread

What do you do if you don’t have enough zucchini for zucchini bread and you don’t have enough bananas for banana bread? You create a completely new bread that contains both, zucchinana bread.

I started with the basic quick bread recipe found in Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio and adapted from there. The result is a moist, yummy bread that is wonderful slathered with butter, or even better, peanut butter. Here’s the ingredients.


In one bowl mash the banana. I think the easiest way to do this is just to use your fingers (put a glove on first if you don’t like messy hands).


Then add the rest of the wet ingredients. In a second bowl combine all of the dry ingredients.


Stir each of the bowls contents well.


Stir the dry ingredients into the wet. Then stir in the toasted nuts. Divide the batter between two loaf pans, a muffin pan, or a combination of the two.


Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted into the bread (or muffin) comes out clean. This will take about 40 minutes for muffins and 50 minutes for a loaf.


Let cool before slicing. Enjoy plain or topped with butter. Or, be like Elvis and combine the flavors of banana and peanut butter for a delicious breakfast treat.


Zucchinana Bread
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Cut down on dishes by using a scale. Simply add an ingredient to the bowl then zero out the scale before adding the next one.
Wet Ingredients
  • 2 small ripe bananas (about one cup)
  • 2 small zucchini, grated (about one cup)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 ounce milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 ounces (one stick) butter, melted and browned (browning butter is optional)
Dry Ingredients
  • 12 ounce flour
  • 4 ounce sugar
  • 2 ounce brown sugar
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Optional Ingredients
  • 4 ounces chopped nuts, toasted
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl mash the bananas using your fingers or a fork. Add eggs and beat lightly. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside.
  3. In a second bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add the nuts is using and stir until the mixture is well combined.
  5. Divide the batter between two loaf pans, muffin tins or a combination of the two.
  6. Bake muffins for 40 minutes and loaves for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the bread comes out clean.
  7. Let cool before slicing.



Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Breakfast Potatoes

I like to get potatoes in my CSA box because if you don’t get to them right away, they don’t go bad and turn into a pile of green goo in the bottom of the crisper drawer (not that that ever happens to me). They can sit for weeks and some would say that they even improve with age, growing sweeter as they wait for their chance to shine.

Plus, always having a stash of potatoes in the crisper means that an easy breakfast is right around the corner.

I’ll use just about any kind of fingerling or new potato in this recipe. Russets are okay, but I’d rather eat them baked or mashed. If you have some greens like kale or chard, you can throw them in too. Just add them at the end, a bit before the potatoes are cooked through.

Here’s the ingredients.

To start, put the potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and cover them. Cook them for about 3 minutes, or until they are just starting to get tender. If you don’t like to use the microwave, you could boil them for just a few minutes (but I am lazy and the microwave is easy).

While the potatoes are in the microwave, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just about crispy.

At this point, you can spoon out a bit of the bacon fat (or not, I’m not your mother), then add the onion, par-cooked potatoes, thyme and sage and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Turn the heat up to high let the whole mix saute, stirring every so often until everything is golden brown and delicious (and the potatoes are cooked through), then sprinkle in the chives.

To really make it a meal. Fry up an egg and slip it down over the top of the potatoes. The runny yolk will combine with the potatoes and make a bit of a sauce.

Good, simple, tasty food. Serve with toast and some juice and you’ve got breakfast perfection.


serves 2-3

I used my own home-cured bacon but commercial bacon will work just fine. Just be sure that it is thick cut or the bacon might burn while the potatoes cook through. I used red onion (because that’s what I had laying around) but any type onion will work.

1 pound fingerling or red potatoes
4 oz thick cut bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Place the potatoes in a microwaveable bowl and cover. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until they are just starting to get tender.

While the potatoes are in the microwave, cook the bacon over medium heat until it is just about crispy. If desired, use a spoon to remove some of the bacon fat from the pan.

Add the onion, par-cooked potatoes, thyme and sage and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Turn the heat to high and saute, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through and golden brown. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Monday, June 14th, 2010

Stack-ups, The First Thing I Cooked

I saw a tweet from Shauna a.k.a. @glutenfreegirl yesterday, “Just a quick reminder: many of us are doing blog posts tomorrow on the first food we cooked when we were kids”. Immediately I started thinking. As a youngster I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. We had an open kitchen so even when I was coloring, watching tv or doing my homework, I was most likely sitting at the bar, kitchen adjacent.

When I was little my mom was in nursing school and then working as a nurse with crazy hours so I remember my dad doing most of the cooking. The times that I remember in the kitchen with my mom it was always a baking project.

One time we made Pfeffernuesse for a class project where I was supposed to cook a recipe that represented where I was from. I’m of mostly German decent and the recipe belongs to my great Aunt Bernice. Unfortunately this is when we found out that I was allergic to Anise. While shaping the cookies to bake I broke out in a terribly itchy rash up to my elbows. I didn’t even get to eat any of the finished cookies for fear that I would have another allergic reaction.

I remember another occasion when we cooked together for a girl scout badge (but I don’t remember what we made) and then there is this awesome cake that my friend Chrissy and I made and decorated for a cake walk at our school carnival (we went to Mckinley and Vikings were our mascot).

I mean, look at the craftsmanship, how did I not go into cake decorating? Ice cream cones for horns and black licorice for the beard, genius.

So as far as I remember, my dad was in charge of most of the meals at my house. For breakfast that meant instant oatmeal (brown sugar and cinnamon flavor), some kind or sugary cereal or, if I was really lucky, Pop-Tarts (the frosted kind of course).

I can remember watching with great fascination as my dad made Minestrone. The recipe went something like this: brown one pound of hamburger then add a can of peas, a can of corn and a can of green beans (with their liquid). Then add a large can of tomato juice and some elbow macaroni and simmer until it’s dinner time. Now this is a version of minestrone I can’t even imagine making these days. Mine would be full of seasonal fresh vegetables and probably vegetarian. And canned peas, well there is just no reason for canned peas. However, I happily slurpped it up at the time.

In addition to spending time together in the kitchen we also we spent time together in the garden. I think we’re tending strawberries in this one (and you can see that I am a lot of help).

And here is evidence that we at least tried to grow lettuce, radishes and carrots.

The garden must not have worked out though since all the veggies in the minestrone were canned.

The meal I remember most (and the one I still make to this day) is something that (as far as I know) my dad invented, he called them Stack-ups. It starts with a layer of rice which is then topped with a slightly sweet tomato and beef sauce (made with tomato sauce and ketchup), then peas, then cheese (American cheese to be exact).

Over the years I’ve tried making changes to the recipe. For a while I tried onions in the sauce, then I tried adding oregano, then cayenne. I even tried making it vegetarian for a while. None of the changes made the cut. In an effort to be healthier, I used brown rice instead of white. I liked this change, but the husband said it needed to go back to white. The only change that has stuck over the years is a shift from American to a sharp cheddar cheese (I really like the Tillamook extra sharp white cheddar so I usually use that).

I started making stack-ups again in college (because they are dead easy and pretty cheap) and I still make stack-ups once every couple of months. This is by no means a fancy or gourmet meal. It’s simple and pleasing.

After I lost my dad in 1996 this became one of ultimate comfort foods. It reminds me of home. I reminds me of my dad. It makes me happy.


S T A C K – U P S
3-4 servings

1 cup white rice
1 pound ground beef
6 oz can tomato paste
1/2 to 3/4 cup ketchup
1 1 /2 cup frozen peas
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cook rice according to package instructions. While rice cooks, brown ground beef in a large saute pan. When it has browned add tomato paste, 2 cans of water (12 oz total), and 1/2 cup ketchup. Season with salt and pepper and taste for sweetness. If a sweeter sauce is desired add additional ketchup. Simmer sauce until rice is cooked, stirring occasionally. When 5 minutes is left in rice cooking time heat peas for 3 minutes in the microwave (or until cooked through) or on the stove top according to package instructions.

In a shallow bowl or on a plate layer rice, sauce, peas and cheese. Enjoy.


Monday, February 22nd, 2010

A Tale of Two Chickens

This week I decided to take on a couple of recipes from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home Cookbook. The recipes from Ad Hoc are intended to be family-style “you can make this at home” recipes. I like this idea because some of the recipes from say his French Laundry Cookbook which might call for something like, an entire pig’s head (not really an everyday ingredient) or require three days of prep are not too accessible for the casual cook and are certainly not intended for weeknight dinner type cooking (at least not at my house). Not to say I don’t cook from it, or from his other cookbook Bouchon, because I have and everything I have made has been phenomenal, it’s just not “everyday” cooking.

I had lots of tasty root vegetables waiting around so I decided to start with the recipe for Whole Roasted Chicken on a bed of Root Vegetables. Out of respect for the author, I’m not going to reprint the recipe here, but if you have the book (and if you don’t I recommend it) you’ll find the recipe on page 22.

The thing about Thomas Keller recipes is that they are precise, explaining exactly how each ingredient should be trimmed and cut. The thing about me is, I’m not that precise when it comes to chopping vegetables, I mean, I cut everything pretty close to the prescribed sizes, but I certainly am not as exact as he is.

I did make a couple of changes to the recipe. First, it calls for leeks, rutabagas and turnips in addition to carrots, onions and potatoes. Well I didn’t have leeks and I just flat out don’t like turnips (and I am a grown up so I don’t have to eat them if I don’t want to). It’s been so long since I’ve had rutabagas I can’t remember if I like them or not. If I get the opportunity to get them in my CSA box I will happily try them again, but I had no interest in a special trip to the store to pick up a item I may or may not like, so I left them out too. What I did have was parsnips and golden beets, and since I like both of those things, into the mix they went.

Otherwise I followed Keller’s instructions. I pulled out my ginormous cast iron pan and deposited my olive oil dressed vegetables along with my trussed chicken which I had rubbed the inside of with fresh thyme and garlic. Then I but 4 TABLESPOONS or butter on top of the chicken (along with some salt and pepper) and popped it into the oven. The thing is, I must have been really sleepy when I was making this because after I trussed the chicken I stupidly put the chicken into the pan breast side down instead of breast side up.

So, while it cooked just fine, the yummy crispy skin was on the wrong side of the chicken (sad). However, the chicken itself was wonderful, moist and gently seasoned. While the vegetables were really good, I personally think that 4 tablespoons of butter was at least 2 tablespoons to much. A little too greasy and not quite crispy enough for my taste. So when I make this again I think I’ll go with less butter and maybe a few less vegetables in the pan (I think they might brown better if they weren’t as crowded).

So, one chicken down, one to go. Each year I cook dinner for two of my best friends, their family and of course the husband and myself as my birthday gift to them (their birthdays are on two consecutive days so I can get away with one dinner as two gifts). The recipe that seems to get the most attention from this cookbook is the one for Buttermilk Fried Chicken. Because I had heard so much about this recipe I asked if I could put it on the menu. I like to try out new things on this group because they are always (luckily) a forgiving group.

This recipe is really easy to find online (in fact it is on the Amazon sale page linked above) so I’ll leave you to find it for yourself. You can also buy it as a kit (which frankly seems silly to me, but you know, to each his own).

Keller specifically calls for 2 1/2 to 3 pound chickens stating that you may need to go to a farmers market to find them. However, I did not have the time to search out tiny chickens, so, I went for the smallest chickens I could find at my local QFC which were 4 pounds each.

So, once again I followed the instructions. Brined the chicken overnight, combined all the ingredients for the coating then packed everything up to prepare at my friends house.

Once there I set up two pans with oil (one for light meat and one for dark) as well as a dredging station (the chicken goes through the flour coating, then into buttermilk, then into a second batch of coating, then onto a parchment lined baking sheet until each piece was coated) and a cooling rack. This took A LOT of room.

So into the oil went my first two batches of chicken (one with thighs and one with breasts). This is when I started having serious heat control issues. A lot of the coating came off and even though the chicken was cooked to temperature the skin wasn’t even crispy. Sad fried chicken.

This is when I started to get despondent (and thankful for a kind group of friends (and my cocktail)). Time for a few adjustments. We turned off the kitchen fan, readjusted the temperature controls and waited for the oil to come back up to temperature. In went the drumsticks, a second batch or breasts and once they were done, the legs.

Success (mostly). As we gathered around the table I encouraged everyone to try the drumsticks first (as they were the most golden brown and delicious) then the breasts, then the legs (I didn’t even serve those first two batches, bleaagh). I was supposed to have fried up some fresh thyme and rosemary to sprinkle over the top, but at this point I was just happy to be getting something edible on the table so we decided to just dig in.

You can see from the picture that I also served a tower of biscuits. What not pictured is some very delicious macaroni and cheese (which my 5-year old picky-eater Goddaughter actually approved of) and a salad made with greens, the white-wine poached pears that I canned in November, blue cheese and glazed nuts.

The chicken was really good. The brine kept it really, really moist (and added a great flavor) and the coating was lightly seasoned, crispy and delicious. In the cookbook Thomas Keller says that once you try this chicken you’ll want to add it to your weekly routine. Well, while it was very good, it was a lot of work. It might make an every six months routine at our house.

To end the meal I served cake balls (similar to these). One of my diners was almost two-year old Rowan. He was cracking me up while he was eating them so I snapped a few pictures (yeah, they’re a little blurry but it was a little dark and little kids move fast).

Here’s the approach.

Next a few nibbles off the bottom.

Then the whole thing went in.

He looked like a chipmunk hoarding nuts.

Too cute.

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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