Tag Archives: apples

Obviously You’re Not a Baker: Banana-Apple-Pear Bread

27 Sep

Sometimes you eat the bread, and...well, sometimes the bread eats you.

I may be a lot of things, but a baker has never really been one of them.  I don’t really like recipes.  Too confining.  I don’t like to measure.  I’m like your grandma – pinch of this, dash of that.  What’s in my fridge?  What’s in my cupboards?  What can I throw together?  That’s how I operate.  As such, the precise chemistry of baking – along with the fact that I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth – has meant that my oven is more often filled with meatloaves than bread loaves.

The rare exceptions have been the occasional batch of brownies, lemon curd bars and slightly more often – banana bread.  Not too sweet.  Good for breakfast or as a snack.  A good way to use up over-ripe bananas.  Utilitarian.

Never content to leave a good thing alone, you know I have to embellish and tailor everything to my tastes.  I found a pretty tasty-sounding recipe for an Banana and Apple bread on FoodandWine.com and I just so happened to have a couple mushy bananas, a Granny Smith and a pear that needed using.  So on a typical fall Sunday, in lieu of a pot of chili bubbling away on the stove, I had a loaf of delicious Banana-Apple-Pear bread rising in my oven.

Banana-Apple-Pear Bread

(adapted from Melissa Murphy’s recipe at FoodandWine.com)

Ingredient Rollcall:

  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple and one pear—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 shots of espresso (optional)
  • 1 dash of Triple Sec (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of plain or vanilla yogurt (optional)

How it’s done:

  1. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter with the brown sugar. Add the apple, pear, espresso, and triple sec and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until tender and golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of the vanilla and set aside to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-by-4 1/2 inch loaf pan. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the remaining stick of butter with the granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until smooth. Add the mashed bananas, orange juice, yogurt and the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the dry ingredients in small increments and beat on low speed until smooth. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apples and pears.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; cover loosely with foil if the loaf becomes too dark. Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack to cool completely.

Cooking the apple and pear in espresso and triple sec adds an extra depth of flavor to the fruit and the yogurt contributes a little tang and moistness to the bread.  See, Travis, you can bake and improvise!  Really!  The more I can tell myself that, the likelier I am to step out of my banana bread comfort zone and get more than my toes wet in the deep end of baking.  Everyone starts with water wings, right?

Cookout Co-Pilot: Broccoli-Apple Salad

3 Sep

With summer cookout season winding down, I joined fellow Forkfuller Lindsay and an assemblage of Madison’s W.A.S.T.E.D. crew for a wine tasting themed on pairings with grilled meats and veggies (Verdict: anything from Torrontes to Brut Rose Cava to Shiraz hits the spot with heat and meat).   The grillables – including t-bone steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops (YUM!) and a host of veggie-friendly items – were graciously provided by the host, so we guests were tasked with summery sides.  Lindsay brought an amazing heirloom tomato salad with a creamy dressing spiked with blue cheese while others notable sides included a spinach salad, carrot-ginger salad, and creamy white-bean hummus.

Earlier this summer, I took my first crack at a broccoli slaw/salad similar to what I detail below (minus the apples) and was smitten by its sweet-savory, creamy-crunchy dichotomy.  Granny Smith apples bring extra crunch and a hint of sweet/tartness to the party while the addition of dried cranberries and walnuts act as a hat-tip to the comforting dishes the impending cool weather brings to my table.

Broccoli-Apple Salad

Ingredient Rundown:

  • 3 heads of broccoli, broken down into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced
  • 2 strips of bacon, minced
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup white or apple cider vinegar
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • dollop of dijon mustard
  • splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • dashes of tarragon, thyme, garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

How I did it:

  • Heat minced bacon in large skillet over medium heat until fat begins to render out.  Add broccoli florets, stems, and minced onion, season with salt, and heat for 4-5 minutes until broccoli just starts to soften around the edges.  Remove to large mixing or serving/storage bowl to cool.
  • Mix in diced apple, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts.
  • To prepare dressing, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and spices and whisk until smooth.
  • Add dressing with broccoli-apple mixture and stir until well-incorporated.  Refrigerate until cool and serve with your favorite flame-charred meats or un-meats.

Check out this post and lots of other fantastic foodie content at Forkful of News.

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