Archive for the ‘bread’ 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.



Monday, January 17th, 2011

Prosciutto, Egg and Arugula Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

As I’ve mentioned in my two previous posts, 2011 can suck it. Between a broken computer, a root canal and a sprained ankle my year thus far has not had many bright spots (especially culinary bright spots) … until Saturday. The duck prosciutto I started on on Jan 6 was finally ready for a taste.

Before I hung it, I had carefully weighed each of my duck breasts (and done the math) so that I could watch for a 30% drop in weight (a good prediction of finished duck prosciutto). However, after 9 days of (not so) patient waiting they had only lost about 20% of their weight. But, they felt right. I had been squeezing them (gently) every day (sometimes two or three times) and yesterday, they just felt right. So, I decided to take the plunge and unwrap one.

I opened up one of the Herbes do Provence cured breasts, cut off a few thin slices and took a bite. Heaven. Salty with a delicate hint of the herbes and a wonderful texture (though sliced too thick it became a bit chewy). I opened up a second, one of the five-spice cured breasts, for a taste. Also delicious. And though the breasts had only spent 24 hours in their prospective cure, each had definitely picked up a distinct flavor. Though I liked both, the Herbes de Provence is my favorite.

For lunch the next day I decided to create a dish using my yummy duck. I wanted to use the flavors found in a duck prosciutto sandwich that I had seen on Matt Wright’s blog. It featured a fried egg, duck prosciutto and arugula on a baguette, but I wanted a salad instead. (By the way, if you want to see some charcuterie porn, Matt’s blog is the place to look, gorgeous).

I made a mustardy vinaigrette for the arugula, added a little pile of the Herbes de Provence duck prosciutto, a couple of crusty toasts and then topped it all with a 64.5° c sous vide egg (a poached egg would be good too, but the sous vide egg is particularly delicious). So simple but so good. The arugula (with the vinaigrette) combined deliciously with, and helped combat, the richness of the duck and the creamy egg yolk. I could have eaten a whole ‘nother plate.



serves 2 (or one really hungry person)

Because this is a dish with very few ingredients, the quality of those ingredients is extremely important. Sub-standard prosciutto and factory-farmed eggs will not provide a tasty finished product. Splurge.

Mustard Vinaigrette
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
really good salt
fresh cracked black pepper

2-3 handfuls arugula
1-2 ounces thin sliced duck prosciutto (ham proscuitto would be good too)
2 eggs
1/4 baguette, sliced thin on the diagonal
olive oil

If you have the ability to cook sous vide, cook two eggs at 64.5° c for 50 minutes. Otherwise, poach two eggs (timing them to be done once the rest of the salad components are complete).

Drizzle the baguette slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper then toast in the oven.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Gently toss the arugula in the dressing and divide it between two plates. Cut several thin slices of prosciutto and add them to each plate next to the arugula. Top arugula with sous vide or poached eggs. Finish the plate with toasted baguette slices.

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Cucumber-Mint Tea Sandwiches: A Tribute to Betty

As a personal chef I am often alone in the kitchen. Many times I will meet a new client, spend 45 minutes talking to them about their food needs, get a key to their house and then never see them again. I had a client for a while that even though I had been in their house every two weeks for over three years, I had only seen them twice.

However, on occasion, my clients are home when I am in their kitchen. They might work at home or be a stay-at-home parent but usually they are elderly.

I cooked for Betty almost every week for five years. When I was there I could always count on two things. One, the kitchen would be a little messy when I arrived and two, the TV would be on and tuned to either the news or a judge show.

Over the years we talked a lot. At first it was mostly about food, where we had eaten over the weekend, what she might like for me to make the next week. In time we started talking about more, politics, vacations, Project Runway, the big news story of the day. Her favorite topics, however, were gardening, her pets and especially her family.

In the summer, we would go out together into her garden so that I could harvest fresh vegetables to use for her meals. She was always concerned about my safety as I stepped over fences (designed to keep the rottweilers out of the garden) to pluck tiny carrots from the ground.

When we met, Betty was in fine health. I watched over the years as her legs started to fail her, going from needing a cane, to a walker until she eventually needed a scooter to get around. I never once heard a complaint. I could always tell when she was anxious about something because she would “pace” in her scooter, rolling from the back door to the living room over and over again. I always wondered how long she could keep that up before she would have to plug it back in.

One of Betty’s favorite things was throwing a party. Any excuse to have her family over (especially in the summer so they could be in the garden) was welcome. Often, rather than making meals for the week I would make hors d’oeuvres for an upcoming party. One of her favorites to include was tea sandwiches, specifically cucumber-mint tea sandwiches. Over the years my recipe changed a bit, honed for her tastes. The recipe started with all butter, went for a time to all cream cheese before finally settling on a combination of the two.

Betty passed away last week at the age of 91. As I sat, thinking about our time together, I was reminded of a time when she told me that the day after her last party she had enjoyed leftover cucumber tea sandwiches and a martini for lunch. I loved seeing the absolute glee in her eye as she described this slightly naughty thing she had done.

So today, as I reflect on, and write about Betty, I am munching on her favorite, Cucumber-Mint Tea Sandwiches. And of course, toasting her memory with the perfect vodka martini. Cheers to you Betty, you will be missed by all who knew you.



C U C U M B E R – M I N T   T E A   S A N D W I C H E S
Makes 4 sandwiches (16 triangles)

Tea sandwiches are not tea sandwiches if you don’t cut the crusts off of them. While this may seem wasteful, I can admit to making more than one lunch out of tea sandwich crusts. If you make these in advance be sure to cover them well as they will dry out if they sit for too long.

4 Tablespoon butter, softened
4 Tablespoon cream cheese, softened
4-5 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint
8 slices potato bread
1 cucumber, sliced thin

Stir together butter, cream cheese and fresh mint. Taste for seasoning and add a pinch of salt (or two) if necessary. Spread the mixture on all eight slices of bread. Distribute cucumber slices evenly over four of the pieces of bread and then top with a second slice of bread to make the sandwich. Carefully cut the crusts off of each sandwich then cut each sandwich diagonally into quarters.

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Brisket with Savory Corn Bread Pudding

I have been asked by my church to create a Seder meal to be enjoyed by 80 or so congregation members the week before Easter. The good things about being Lutheran at Easter time are A) I don’t have to give up anything for Lent and B) I don’t have to keep the meal kosher (which provides many more options).

Last year I made braised lamb with couscous for the meal. Braises are great for a group because once you get them started you can just pop the pan in the oven to cook for a few hours while you work on the rest of the meal. Plus, they are really hard to ruin. And couscous is the easiest thing on the planet to cook (pour couscous in pan, add seasonings if desired, add boiling water to just above the couscous, cover for five minutes, fluff).

I obviously can’t make the same things two years in a row but I think I’ve got a plan for a fairly low stress, really tasty meal.

I definitely want to stick with a braise (see above for my reasons) so I decided to do a brisket. I asked some friends if they had any great brisket recipes and this was my first response. It sounded really good so I decided to give it a test. I’d like to give credit to the author of the recipe but my friend said that she got it from her mom who probably got it from a magazine, or a Web site, so the origins of the recipe are unknown.

The original recipe calls for an 8-10 pound brisket. However, since this is just for husband and myself I halved the recipe for testing purposes. I know I will still have tons of leftovers, but I am not mad about that.

Here’s the ingredients for the brisket

4-pound brisket
salt and pepper
1 Tbls oil from sun-dried tomatoes (see below)
2 onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and sliced (oil reserved)
2 bay leaves
8 sprig fresh thyme (the recipe called for dried thyme but I had the fresh in the herb garden so I used it instead)
1 cup beef stock
1 cup dry red wine

Plus my brand-spanking new dutch oven (it was on clearance at the grocery store for $34.99, I had to buy it)

The brisket was pretty big so I cut it in half so that I could brown it in the dutch oven (plus I have a plan to try a method of reheating the brisket in a couple of days and I wanted to be able to split it evenly). I seasoned it really well with salt and pepper and then browned both pieces on both sides one at a time (I didn’t want to crowd the pan because that leads to boiling not browning). I took the meat out of the pan then deglazed the pan with a little bit of the beef stock.

I added half the onions, half the sun-dried tomatoes, a couple of sprigs of thyme, the garlic and the tomatoes. Then I added the brisket and topped it with the remaining onions, sun-dried tomatoes and a couple more sprigs of thyme. I poured the rest of the beef stock and the wine over the top and then pushed the bay leaves down into the liquid.

I brought this up to a simmer, covered the pan with foil, added the lid and popped it all in a 350 degree oven for 4 hours.

While this was in the oven I started on the Corn Bread Pudding. I had some leftover corn bread in the fridge and this seemed like a very good use of it.

Here’s the ingredients for the Savory Corn Bread Pudding

1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6″ x 9″ square of cornbread, cut into large cubes
3 eggs
1 cup milk
8 cherry tomatoes, halved

I started by sauteing the onion and red bell pepper. Once they were done I combined them with the cornbread in a large bowl then poured this into a 9″ x 9″ dish. I whisked together the eggs with the milk and poured this over the cornbread. I then arranged the halved tomatoes over the top then popped this into the fridge for a couple of hours. When there was about an hour left in the cooking time of the brisket I drizzled a bit of olive oil over the dish, seasoned it with salt and pepper, then added the dish of corn bread pudding to the oven.

Smellovision would be good here because the smells coming out of the kitchen were so good. The brisket was falling apart and the onions and sun-dried tomatoes had kind of melted together into a tasty gravy.

The corn bread pudding was a really good accompaniment (and I think it would be really easy to prepare for the group).

The pudding had a nice crispy top which was good texturally with the brisket. My leftover cornbread happened to have corn and chipotle peppers in it. I think I will probably keep the corn but I will get rid of (or at least reduce) the chipotles (a lot of people really don’t like spicy food).

The vegetable on the plate is steamed snap peas with a champagne vinegar and lemon buerre blanc sauce.

Tonights dinner was really good. On Wednesday I’m going to experiment with a method of reheating the brisket and a couple of different side dishes (so I can compare and contrast). I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Savory Bread Pudding

I had no ideas for dinner last night, none at all. I took a look at what was left in the crisper drawer and was not inspired at all. Luckily I happened to peruse one of my favorite Web sites, Serious Eats where I found my inspiration, a link to an article titled “What to do with Leftover Bread”. Without even reading the article I had my inspiration.

Bread pudding is a versatile dish that can be made sweet or savory and with just about ant ingredients you like.

Here’s what I used

10 or so slices of stale sourdough bread, cubed
1 zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 leek, chopped
1 handful arugula, chopped
4ish ounces Parmesan cheese, divided
3 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
2 Tablespoons pesto (not pictured because I added it at the last minute)

Once I chopped all my ingredients I tossed together my bread, zucchini, red bell pepper, leek, arugula and half of the Parmesan as well as some salt and pepper and a few red pepper flakes.

I put all this into an 8″ x 8″ dish that I had sprayed with cooking spray.

Next I combined my eggs, milk and ricotta cheese. While I was working I kept thinking that the dish could use some herbage. I thought about tarragon or thyme (because that is what I happened to have) but realized that what I really wanted was basil. So, I busted out a couple of cubes of my homemade pesto out of the freezer, thawed them in the microwave and added it to the egg mixture (along with a touch of salt and pepper). I then poured the egg mixture over the bread mixture.

The great thing about bread pudding is that it needs to sit for awhile (it’s often better if it sits overnight) so if you want to make something for, say, breakfast, you can prep it the day ahead and then just pop it in the oven in the morning. However, since I decided to make this at about 2 p.m. I needed to speed up the bread/egg soaking process so I covered the pan with cling wrap and weighted it with my grill pan to make sure all the bread stayed submerged.

I popped this in the fridge for about 2 hours. When I started getting hungry, I heated up my oven to 350 degrees and I took the dish out of the fridge. Once the oven was warm I put my dish in, uncovered, to bake for an hour adding my remaining Parmesan at the 30 minute mark.

While the bread pudding cooked I threw together a little salad with a few things I had on hand. I combined a clementine, a few cherry tomatoes and a bit of fresh thyme and tossed them with a touch of olive oil and a splash of Spanish Golden Vinegar (apple cider vinegar that I infused with basil, thyme, chives, oregano, garlic and hot peppers).

The bread pudding came out nicely crisp on the top and was filling and delicious, especially on a cold, snowy night (by the way, it’s March and I am done with snow, enough already). The pesto was a very welcome addition so I’m glad it occurred to me to add it to the dish. The Orange-Tomato Salad had a nice tang that contrasted well with the richness of the bread pudding. The husband also liked it very much, even helping himself to seconds (a surprising outcome knowing his feelings about both zucchini and arugula).

This is a dish that can be made in hundreds of different combinations with whatever veggies, cheeses and meats you happen to have on hand. If you come up with a great combination pass it along, I always like to have new ideas.

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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