Tag Archives: Breads

Naan Bread

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I did NOT grow up eating Indian food, to say the least. In fact, I don’t think I could have named a traditional or popular Indian dish if a gun was held to my head. I was aware of the country India, and yes, I assumed they had food of course, but that’s about all the thought I gave to the issue. What can I say, Indian food just wasn’t a thing in Dallas suburbs in the ‘80’s.

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Since moving to New York, I have discovered Indian food, and have fallen in love. There’s an Indian take-out place in our neighborhood we frequent, we eat out at Indian restaurants from time to time, and I’ve started cooking it at home. And though I didn’t know naan bread from a hole in the wall growing up, now I simply cannot eat Indian food without it. It’s become one of my favorite things on earth.

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So when I made these delicious Tandoori Chicken Drumsticks a couple weeks ago, of course naan bread had to accompany them, and I decided to be brave and make it myself. I’m extremely comfortable baking with batters. I grew up occasionally helping my mom make her banana bread, and when I first got into cooking and baking, I definitely gravitated toward easy cakes and quick breads. Yeast breads? That’s another story.

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Those have come into my culinary repertoire much later. With practice I’m definitely feeling more and more like a boss of the yeast these days, but trust me, it didn’t start out that way. Oh, I have some screw-up stories. But this naan bread is not one of them. It turned out looking and tasting authentic and amazing. I was very proud.

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A few recipe notes: I don’t have a tandoor oven. (Shocking, I know.) A grill heated to very high will work just fine, indoor or outdoor. Don’t skip the brushing with butter part, or your naan won’t be as authentic. If you have leftovers, reheat them in the microwave. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you reheat them in the oven or on the grill, they dry out a little. The microwave will give you that soft texture that will be *almost* like fresh off the grill.

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Source: lightly adapted from Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
1 (1/4 oz.) packet active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tbs sugar
3 tbs Greek yogurt
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp kosher salt
4 to 4 ½ cups bread flour (sub in all-purpose if desired), plus more for dusting and kneading
Canola oil
8 tbs unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer for about 10 minutes, until frothy. Add the sugar, yogurt, egg, salt, and 4 cups bread flour. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium-low speed, just until combined. Switch to the dough hook attachment and knead for 6 to 8 minutes. Put the dough in a well-oiled large bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside to rise for 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
Gently press down the dough and pinch off the dough into 8 even pieces. Roll those pieces into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size again, 30 to 60 minutes. (Recipe says 30 minutes, I let mine go closer to 1 hour).
Once the dough is ready, preheat your grill or grill pan to high (for direct grilling, if using an outdoor charcoal grill).
Roll out 1 ball of dough into a thin circle. If using an outdoor grill, lightly oil the grates. If using an indoor grill pan, this step isn’t necessary.
Brush the dough circle on one side with some melted butter. Put the dough on the grill surface buttered side down, and cook for 2-3 minutes, until puffy and lightly browned. While it’s grilling, brush the uncooked side with butter. Flip the bread and cook until browned another 2-3 minutes. Remove the bread from the grill and continue until all the naans have been grilled. Serve immediately for best results.

Nutella Zucchini Muffins

Nutella Zucchini Muffins

Don’t you love healthy(ish) baked goods that don’t taste the least bit healthy? And isn’t it an even bigger plus if said baked goods are very easy to make, and don’t have any weird ingredients you have to get at a special health-foods store? And the biggest win of all – don’t you love it when baked goods involve Nutella, one of the more awesome creations ever made by a human being? Obviously, these muffins fit the bill on all counts!

making Nutella zucchini muffins

So, confession time – I never had Nutella growing up. My husband introduced it to me. He is an absolute Nutella fiend. I could probably smear it on his gym shoes and he’d eat them with a smile. I have since developed a love for the spread too, and it’s rare you won’t see a large jar of it in our pantry.

making zucchini muffins

So when my food blogger friend Kirsten posted these, I knew they were gettin’ made – SOON! Genius idea. They were delicious – moist and tender, a bit cakey, with that Nutella flavor we all love. And these are a great excuse to use up some zucchini while it’s still in season. Try them soon, they are soooo yummy!

Nutella Zucchini Muffins

Source: Farm Fresh Feasts

Ingredients:
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup Nutella
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray, or line with muffin liners.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, oil, Nutella and sugar. Add zucchini. Stir until thoroughly combined. Add flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until just moistened.
Fill muffin cups 2/3 full (I use an ice cream scoop for this). Bake for 15 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Cool in pan a few minutes, then turn onto a rack.

Blueberry Bread

Blueberry Bread

Happy Friday everyone! Oh, and how is it already August? That’s just a tad crazy. I’m really hoping to make it to the beach this weekend, so fingers crossed that the weather holds.

blueberry bread batter

blueberries

Let’s talk blueberries. Who doesn’t love ‘em? I haven’t run the numbers or anything, but I would hazard a pretty confident guess that muffins are the most popular and ubiquitous blueberry baked good out there. And I think for good reason – I just love a good blueberry muffin. But it got me thinking, if you can make muffins, then you can make a loaf of quick bread, and you don’t see blueberry bread all that often. So I adapted a muffin recipe into a quick bread recipe and everyone loved it. I hope you will too!

blueberry bread

Blueberry Bread

Blueberry Bread, sliced

slices of blueberry bread

blueberry bread

{One year ago: Creamy Smoked Trout on Pumpernickel Toasts and Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter Brittle}

Source: adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
8 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup half-and-half
2 ½ cups fresh blueberries
2 tsp turbinado

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a 9×5” loaf pan.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and baking powder, then add flour alternately with half-and-half, beating well after each addition. Add the blueberries and fold them in with a spatula.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top with the turbinado. Bake in the oven for about 65 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove, let cool in the pan at least 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Banana Dark Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins

Banana Dark Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins

Happy Friday everyone! Is anyone else as ready for a weekend as I am? Yeesh…

making banana mini muffins

banana mini muffins, before baking

I made these little cuties on a whim a few weeks ago when I went on my insane baking bender. I had some overripe bananas sitting there, demanding to either be baked or tossed into the trash. For me, that’s an easy decision!

before baking

Also, I realized I hadn’t used my mini muffin/cupcake tin in a while, and I’m sure it was feeling neglected. 😉 These turned out very nicely, soooo easy to just pop in your mouth thanks to their small size. I’m a huge fan of dark chocolate (and apparently it has some impressive healthful properties) but you could sub in semi-sweet if you would rather. Enjoy these! Everyone have a safe, fun and delicious weekend!

Banana Dark Chocolate Chunk Mini Muffins

eating a mini muffin

Source: adapted from The King Arthur Flour’s Baker’s Companion

Ingredients:
8 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
2 medium-size overripe bananas, peeled and chunked
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 (12 oz.) bag dark chocolate chunks

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 mini muffin tins with mini cupcake/muffin liners. If you don’t have any liners, then just grease the pans well.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until they’re smooth. Scrape the bowl down, then beat in the egg, spices, banana, and milk.
In a separate, small mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add them to the butter-sugar mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.
Using a cookie scoop, spoon the batter evenly into the muffin liners. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven, let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Tomato Scallion Short Cakes with Whipped Goat Cheese

tomato scallion short cakes with whipped goat cheese

When it comes to short cakes, why do sweets get to have all the fun? Well, they shouldn’t. And now they don’t.

unbaked biscuits

Holy field cows, were these ever freakin’ amazing. I whipped them up as an appetizer – and I don’t remember what we had for dinner, what does that tell you – so we only ate one each. You know, to save room for dinner. And the whole time dinner was being prepped, Matt and I kept looking at each other with sad, puppy-dog eyes, silently and pitifully communicating our strong desire to eat, like, three more short cakes. Each.

tomato scallion short cakes ready to be assembled

While these require three separate steps, it’s really quite the easy dish to pull off. Making the biscuits was the most time-consuming part. I’m categorizing these as an appetizer, mostly because that’s how I served them, but I could see them being part of a brunch spread. Or possibly a stand-in for the salad course. And I certainly wouldn’t judge anyone for eating just these short cakes for dinner (or any other meal, frankly.) I can’t rule out the possibility of doing that myself sometime in the near future…

ready to eat savory short cakes

Make these soon – tomatoes are fresh and in season, everyone’s eating sweet short cakes anyway, so I suppose ’tis the season for savory short cakes, too, right? They really are the perfect summer treat!

Tomato Scallion Short Cakes with Whipped Goat Cheese

Recipe notes: the original recipe called for goat cheese and that’s what I used. If you really don’t groove on goat cheese, I suppose I would sub in ricotta. But you need something that will whip with a hand mixer, so keep that in mind. Secondly, I used heirloom cherry tomatoes because my store had them and they’re pretty. But any cherry tomato variety will do. Just get what looks best that day.

Tomato Scallion Short Cakes with Whipped Goat Cheese

Source: ever so slightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Ingredients:
BISCUITS:
2 cups plus 2 tbs flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbs baking powder
¾ tsp kosher salt
5 tbs chilled unsalted butter
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 cup whole milk

TOMATOES:
1 tbs olive oil
1 ½ tbs red wine vinegar
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ lb. cherry tomatoes, heirloom or otherwise

WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE:
3 tbs heavy cream
4 oz. goat cheese, softened
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

Directions:
First, make the BISCUITS:
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a large, wide bowl. Add the butter, and use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. If you don’t own a pastry blender, quickly chop the butter into pieces first, then use your fingers or a couple of forks to work in the butter.
Add the scallion and the milk and stir with a firm rubber spatula or wooden spoon until evenly moistened. Lightly flour your hands and knead 7 or 8 times until the mixture comes together and there are no floury bits on the bottom of the bowl.
Now dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat it out to about 1-inch thickness and cut into 6 or 8 (3-inch) rounds with a biscuit cutter (I only got 6, which was fine), reforming scraps as need be. Transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet, making sure to space them about 2 inches apart.
Bake until golden brown on top, for about 15 minutes.
While the biscuits are baking, make the TOMATOES:
In the bottom of a medium mixing bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, salt, sugar, and black pepper. Quarter the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and add them to the bowl. Toss the tomatoes with the dressing gently.
Now make the WHIPPED GOAT CHEESE:
In a separate bowl, use a handheld electric mixer to whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the goat cheese and beat until the cheese topping is light and fluffy.
To assemble, split each warm biscuit in half, and generously spoon the tomato salad onto the bottom halves. Dollop some whipped goat cheese on top of the tomatoes, then top with the biscuit tops. Serve at once.

Jerk Chicken Fry Bread “Tostadas” with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw

jerk chicken fry bread "tostadas" with cabbage-jicama slaw

This is one of my few “repeat meals”, meaning I consistently make it about once or twice a year, and I’ve made this one for the past four or five years running. This is one of Matt’s favorites, and I sometimes wonder if he would revolt if I didn’t make it at least once a year!

fry bread dough

I go crazy for Jamaican jerk anything, so this chicken is right up my alley. It’s very hot and spicy, but that wonderful slaw really cools it down. The most unusual thing about this recipe is the Navajo fry breads. I would have never thought to pair jerk chicken with an old Native American staple, but it’s delicious.

frying Navajo fry breads

Now what’s really unusual about this dish is that I don’t just make these fry breads for snacking just whenever. Because in my book, it doesn’t get much better than fried dough, and that is exactly what these are. It’s sort of like beignets meet pancakes, only they are savory instead of sweet. They’re crunchy and satisfying and soooo delish. Where the willpower to not make these all the time comes from, I really couldn’t tell you.

grilling jerk chicken

This is originally a Bobby Flay recipe, from his Mesa Grill cookbook, and I’ve streamlined it quite a bit. If you’re familiar with his recipes, then you know they have about 17 different parts, and well, sometimes I get a little tired of that. He calls for a mango habanero sauce that I have always left off. It’s delicious without it; I’m sure it’s outstanding with it, but I don’t know what I’m missing, so why do I care, you know? I think there’s already plenty of heat in the spice rub on the chicken, so you don’t need any more habanero. But if you wanted to add some diced mango to the slaw, that would probably be great. Maybe I’ll do that next year and report back.

sliced Jamaican jerk chicken

As written, you’ll have leftover jerk rub, which is great! Store it in your freezer and it will last a very long time. But you can scale the recipe back, or just use your favorite commercial jerk rub seasoning to make the recipe even easier.

Jerk Chicken Fry Bread "Tostadas" with Cabbage-Jicama Slaw

Source: adapted from The Mesa Grill Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:

NAVAJO FRY BREADS:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tbs dry milk powder
Kosher salt
¼ cup lard or vegetable shortening, chilled
Canola oil, for frying

JERK CHICKEN:
2 tbs ground coriander
2 tbs ground ginger
2 tbs light brown sugar
1 tbs onion powder
1 tbs garlic powder
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs habanero chile powder
2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed
2 tbs canola oil

CABBAGE-JICAMA SLAW:
½ cup fresh lime juice (from 4-5 limes)
1 tbs ancho chile powder
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 tsp honey
¼ cup canola oil
¼ small head of red cabbage, thinly shredded
1 small jicama, peeled and thinly shredded
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
First make the FRY BREADS. Combine the flour, baking powder, milk powder and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl. Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is crumbly. Add ¾ cup cold water and mix until the dough comes together. Place on a lightly floured surface and knead lightly until smooth. Cover with a kitchen towel and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
Heat a couple inches of canola oil in a large, high-sided skillet until it reaches 360 F.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll out each piece into a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fry the bread in batches in the oil until golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Remove to a sheet pan lined with paper towels and lightly season with salt.
Make the JERK CHICKEN. Make the jerk rub by combining all the spices in a small bowl. Rub the top of each chicken breast with 1 heaping tablespoon of the rub. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Place the chicken in the pan, rub side down and lightly season the non-rubbed side with salt. Cook until just cooked through, flipping once, about 6-8 minutes total. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before slicing each breast on the bias into ¼-inch thick slices.
Make the SLAW. Whisk together the lime juice, ancho chile powder, salt, pepper, honey and oil in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, jicama and cilantro and toss well to combine. Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 4 hours before serving.
To assemble, place sliced chicken on a fry bread then top with some slaw. Serve with lots of napkins!

Rhubarb Scones

rhubarb scones

A few days after thinking I was done with rhubarb for the season, I walked into my grocery store, all naïve and unsuspecting, to find some unbelievably gorgeous rhubarb staring at me. It taunted and tempted me for the entire five seconds I spent debating whether to buy it. Yep, I was powerless to resist the beautiful rhubarb and it went straight into my shopping cart.

stalks of gorgeous rhubarb

Matt had recently seen an article on NPR’s website about cooking and baking with rhubarb, and it featured some rhubarb scones. And since I haven’t made scones in a few months (e-gads!), I suddenly knew what I would do with the awesome vegetable that doesn’t taste one bit like a vegetable.

rhubarb scones, unbaked

These scones were quite delicious – everything you want in a perfect scone. I wanted to blog them today, in the hopes that it’s still rhubarb season where at least someone lives, so maybe at least someone can go out and make them very soon.

Rhubarb Scones

I’m not sure how much longer I’ll have access to the beautiful stalks myself. And if rhubarb is done for another year where you live, then by all means, bookmark or pin this recipe for next year. Because you absolutely should not miss out on these amazing scones!

Rhubarb Scones

Source: adapted from Food52

Ingredients:
3 full stalks of rhubarb, trimmed and thinly sliced into 1/4-1/2″ pieces (if your rhubarb is pre-trimmed, you’ll want about 14 ounces)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 tbs unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, toss rhubarb with 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Sift flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until butter is the size of small peas. Add in sliced rhubarb, vanilla extract, and cream. Stir together with a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms. Flour your hands and knead for about 1 minute, until the dough completely comes together.
Transfer dough to a floured surface. Pat it down to a rectangle about 1/2″ thick. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 roughly even rectangles. Arrange on prepared cookie sheet and sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of each scone. Bake about 18 minutes or until golden on top.

Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam Sandwiches

PB&J

Last night I had a version of my recurring nightmare. My recurring nightmare, which I have every couple of months or so, is that I’m back in law school (and that right there is quite enough to qualify it as a nightmare, trust me); so anyway, I’m back in law school, and exams are imminently approaching, and I realize that I somehow forgot I was in school and that I haven’t been to class all semester. Yet I paid for the semester, so I don’t want to just say screw it and no-show for the exams. So I’m studying like a maniac to test on subjects with which I’m not remotely familiar, and then I wake up as I’m sweating bullets through an exam I’m not at all prepared to take.

making rhubarb jam

Last night was another version of the same thing. I was a contestant on “The Voice” – team Shakira! – and somehow I’d made it to the final show. By the way, this is even funnier if you’ve ever heard me sing. So I was prepared for all the ensemble numbers, but somehow I’d forgotten that I would have to do a solo, and I hadn’t prepped a song for it. I figured I’d have to wing it, but I was terrified because I didn’t even know the words to the song I’d been assigned. So I sang it onstage in front of a huge audience, and did the whole elementary school choir “watermelon” trick on the parts I didn’t know. Except that doesn’t exactly work on a solo… I awoke as Matt was trying to find a diplomatic way of telling me that it had really sucked.

white bread dough

I don’t know what’s going on with my subconscious. Sometimes it’s just better not to ask why. Did I mention that Rachael Ray was one of my competitors on Team Shakira? Yeah, I don’t want to know…

white sandwich bread from scratch

sliced white sandwich bread

Like with this sandwich. I’d just as soon you didn’t ask why I felt compelled to take the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, one of the quickest and simplest sandwiches to make ever, and turn it into the single most complicated sandwich I’ve ever made in my life by making the whole thing from scratch. Because honestly, I don’t know, and finding out might be rather frightening. So I figure, best to just leave it be and enjoy the sandwich!

peanuts

homemade peanut butter

This was the typical PB&J, with only the three ingredients, but for whatever reason I insisted upon making all three elements myself, from scratch. I have to say, it was the best PB&J I’ve ever tasted; it’s amazing how much extra sugar and salt is added to store-bought peanut butter! I’ll definitely keep making my own nut butters.

peanut butter spread on bread

homemade rhubarb jam

And I suppose I’m glad I did this at least once. Enjoy this recipe, whether you decide to make all of it, none of it, or any one part of it!

Peanut Butter and Rhubarb Jam Sandwich

WHITE SANDWICH BREAD:

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tbs lukewarm water
3 tbs sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 generous tbs kosher salt
4 tbs unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup nonfat dry milk powder
Cooking spray

Directions:
In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Let it proof for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt, melted butter, and milk powder to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.
Once the yeast has proofed, add the mixture to the stand mixer bowl. Turn the mixer on medium-low and let the dough hook knead the mixture for 5 to 7 minutes, until the dough becomes soft, pliable and smooth. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon or so of flour, and if it is dry enough that it’s taxing the mixer, add a tablespoon or so of room temperature water.
When done kneading, cover the bowl with a clean, damp dish towel and let it rise for 1 hour, until about doubled in size.
Spread a thin film of oil or cooking spray on your rolling surface (counter or cutting board). Grease a standard loaf pan and set aside.
Transfer the dough to the counter and roll it into a 5×8-inch rectangle. Starting with the narrow end, roll it into a log and pinch the seam closed. Make sure the ends are tucked in nicely and evenly. Transfer the log to the prepared loaf pan. Lightly grease a sheet of plastic wrap, lay it over the dough and let it rise until it is 1 inch above the rim of the pan. This can take up to two hours, possibly longer. I got impatient and probably should have let mine rise more. Oops.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Remove the plastic wrap and bake in the center of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, turning the pan halfway through baking. It is done when the top is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped. Turn over the pan to release the loaf immediately and let cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

PEANUT BUTTER:

Source: adapted from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

Ingredients:
1 lb. shelled raw peanuts, preferably not organic*
½ tsp kosher salt, or more to taste
2 tsp honey, or more to taste
4 tbs canola oil

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, or just until they begin to brown. You’ll smell them. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow them to cool slightly.
Place the peanuts, salt, and honey in a food processor. Blend for 20 seconds. With the motor still running, drizzle in the oil through the chute, and process for another 30 seconds. Stop the motor and check for seasoning. Add more salt and/or honey, then process for another minute or so to reach your desired consistency.
*Matt was reading the other day that organic peanuts have a fungus that naturally grows on them that can be harmful if consumed too often or in too high a dose. Best to be safer and buy non-organic, since those peanuts will be treated with an anti-fungicide.

RHUBARB JAM:

Source: ‘wichCraft by Tom Colicchio

Ingredients:
4 cups diced rhubarb
2 cups plus 1 tsp sugar
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp powdered fruit pectin

Directions:
In a bowl, combine the rhubarb, 2 cups sugar, and lemon juice. Refrigerate overnight in a tightly covered container. The next day, in a small saucepan, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the pectin and remaining teaspoon of sugar. Temper it by adding small amounts of the hot rhubarb mixture and quickly stirring it. Add it to the rest of the rhubarb and return the saucepan to the heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and place into a clean container with a lid. Once it has cooled down, close the lid and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
This makes probably way more jam than you’ll need for a few sandwiches. Don’t worry, I’ll be sharing next week what you should do with the leftovers. And it’s really yummy, so don’t miss it!

Strawberry Banana Bread

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Summer is on the horizon, so we’re making vacation plans and storing our warm-weather clothes. I’m very excited for it to get here. It’s got me thinking about all my favorite things about summer, and isn’t it shocking that most of them revolve around food!

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Like eating sweet cherries on the beach. And putting berries in almost every dessert I make. Peaches – ‘nuff said! And grilling almost every night. Ice cold refreshing beverages. Lobster going on sale at my grocery store. Eating outside at restaurants in Manhattan. Lots of salads and seafood. And ice cream – lots and lots of ice cream, with some sorbet thrown in for good measure too.

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Most ice cream I consume these days is homemade, but that wasn’t the case until a few years ago. I can’t remember my mom ever making ice cream, and I’m pretty sure we didn’t own an ice cream maker. Some good family friends did though, and they brought that thing out several times a summer. I loved it. Their machine was the older hand-cranked model, and it made the softest, most delicious ice cream.

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I think there were several flavors in rotation (if I’m remembering correctly), but my favorite was always strawberry-banana. It’s such a great combo, but I don’t see it around the foodie webs much these days. Is it just done and overdone, or is it cliché at this point? I’m not sure.

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I still love it, and while I’m on no mission to single-handedly revive it, I will make this one contribution to the wonderful flavor combination with this quick bread.

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It was delicious and more cakey than bready. I found it on Joy the Baker, but couldn’t resist tweaking it quite a bit. It turned out to be lovely. Heads up – it’s best to let it cool for awhile. Matt and I decided we couldn’t wait, and the first two slices really fell apart on us. No matter, they didn’t taste any different!

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Oh, and I was figuring I would freeze some of this bread, but I blinked and it was gone. So good! Enjoy!

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Source: adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tbs) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain yogurt (any fat content)
3 medium overripe bananas, peeled and chunked
1 cup diced strawberries plus enough thinly sliced strawberry to cover the top of the banana bread in a single layer (I used 7 small and medium strawberries)

Directions:
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla, yogurt, and banana until well incorporated.
Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients. Fold together, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to reveal any hidden pockets of flour. Fold in the diced strawberries. Fold together ingredients, but try not to over stir.
Spoon batter into prepared pan and top with thinly sliced strawberries. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest in the pan for 15 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Biscuits

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With some practice over the years, I’ve become rather adept at making biscuits. Whereas I once felt totally incompetent at such a venture, and spent the entire time second-guessing myself and quadruple-checking whatever recipe I was following, now I can make a good biscuit in my sleep.

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So recently I’ve begun playing around with flavorings in biscuits. I used to stick to the classic buttermilk kind, but now that I feel so much more comfortable with the whole endeavor, it’s nice to branch out and try new things.

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Several months ago, I saw a mention of cream cheese biscuits (can’t remember if this was on Pinterest or Facebook). I thought that sounded interesting and delicious, and wondered if I could master-mind such a thing. So I intentionally didn’t google those words to find a recipe, and just used what I know of biscuit ratios to come up with my own version. I wanted to challenge myself, I guess.

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I figured that the cream cheese would be part of the fat in the biscuit, instead of an addition, like cheddar or parmesan would be. So I replaced half of the butter with cream cheese, making sure my cream cheese was well chilled first. But I still wondered how this would turn out. Would it change the texture any? Would you be able to taste the cream cheese at all?

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Yes and yes, and both for the positive. The texture was slightly softer than a regular all-butter biscuit, and you really could taste the flavor of the cream cheese. And may I just say that you definitely should split open a hot biscuit and slather some strawberry jam on it. Ohhhhh, lordy, that was pure bliss. Its taste was reminiscent of strawberry shortcake. Come to think of it, these biscuits would be PERFECT for strawberry shortcake! How did I not think of that until just now???!!! Aaaahhh! Okay, we’re doing that. And if you do as well, definitely let me know how it turns out. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tbs sugar
4 tbs chilled unsalted butter
4 tbs chilled cream cheese
¾ cup buttermilk

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the butter and cream cheese, and blend them into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. There should be some uniformity but still with clumps of fat. Add the buttermilk and stir to combine with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Flour your hands, then dump the dough out onto a well-floured work surface. Knead for just a minute until it comes together. Flour a rolling pin and then roll the dough out to about 1/2 an inch thick.
Stamp into rounds with a 2 ½ inch floured biscuit cutter. Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake at 400 F for 14 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Serve plain, with butter, or with strawberry jam.