Tag Archives: breakfast

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?

Advertisements

Irreconcilable Differences: Huevos Divorciados

26 Jul
They remain good friends

My Summer of Spice continues with its Latin bent and a simple, savory and piquant way to start your day. Or end it (breakfast-for-dinner is always a welcome change of pace for me).

Huevos Divorciados (“divorced eggs”) is a close cousin of the familiar huevos rancheros available at most breakfast joints across North America. I stumbled upon the dish as I looked for a way to use up some of the extra salsas that take up half of my fridge at any given time. Inspired by other Mexican dishes that feature bright-colored red and green sauces, huevos divorciados pits one egg, smothered in salsa roja (Team Red) against its embattled mate, doused in salsa verde (Team Green). The tangy bite of the salsa verde serves as a nice counterpoint to the savory roja. While they might not appear to be on speaking terms, they reunite in your mouth to remake the magic that put them on the same plate in the first place.

Huevos Divorciados

Ingredient Rundown (per serving):

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium potato, thinly sliced
  • 1 half small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • chorizo, either one small link or 1/2 cup of ground and browned
  • spices (Penzey’s Northwoods Fire or other spicy blend, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper)
  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • tortilla
  • olive oil/bacon drippings for frying
  • cilantro, chopped
  • guacamole (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • refried beans (optional)
  • shredded cheese (optional)

How I do it:

  1. Season and fry sliced potatoes until mostly cooked, 10-15 minutes on medium.  Add chorizo, onion and red bell pepper, continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until tender.
  2. Fry 2 eggs, leaving the yolk runny. Over-easy works for me.
  3. Briefly warm tortilla in skillet until lightly crisped.
  4. Place tortilla on serving plate and top with fried potatoes, vegetables, chorizo and optional beans and cheese.  Top with fried eggs, side-by-side and garnish one egg with salsa roja (red), the other with salsa verde (green) and plenty of cilantro.  Seperate with optional guacamole and sour cream.  Buenos dias!

This is a great excuse to use up leftover salsa or a reason in itself to whip some up.  Fresh homemade salsa is one of summer’s simple pleasures and you should always have some on hand.  Say no to that jarred spaghetti sauce stuff!  This dish works great as intended — a simple, bold, and hearty breakfast — and as an admitted lover of breakfast-for-dinner, I have been known to eat this meal at all hours.  It’s never not a good time for anything with a fried egg on it.

You never forget your first: Fried Chicken and Pecan Waffles with Apricot Syrup

13 Oct

Chicken and Waffles

The first time I heard about a culinary phenomenon called fried chicken and waffles, I must admit to being a little perplexed by the combination.  Sure, both things are great in their own right, but I wouldn’t think to pair them in a single meal.  This confusion is largely tied to my region of birth.  Chicken and waffles traces its roots to the soul food traditions of The South though its specific origin is somewhat murky.  One account has Thomas Jefferson bringing a waffle iron back to America from France in the 1790’s with the combination becoming commonplace shortly thereafter.  Others describe the dish as a delicacy stemming from mid-Nineteenth Century slave culture where both poultry and waffles would have been rare treats reserved for special occasions – a tradition commonly maintained by modern African American food culture as a special Sunday family meal.

The beauty of the dish lies in its versatility.  Another legend from the Wells Supper Club in Harlem spells its origins as a dish served to late night patrons who were too late for dinner but too early for breakfast.  I’ve always been a fan of breakfast for dinner as I love heart breakfast food, but rarely have the time or appetite to make or eat it in the morning.  As I mentioned in my earlier post on Curried French toast, my tolerance for sweet, bready breakfast foods is low, so the savoriness of the fried chicken plays a great foil for the sweeter waffle.  This was my first time making waffles from scratch and I must say they turned out amazing.  The pecans and apricot syrup proved to be a great match for the savoriness of the fried chicken.  This really is a meal that hits all the right spots, any time of day.

Dish: Fried Chicken and Pecan Waffles with Apricot Syrup

Ingredient Roll Call (Serves 4):

Fried Chicken –

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 egg, beaten with a splash of water
  • ~1/2 cup all purpose flour, seasoned, for dredging
  • ~1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • enough vegetable/canola oil to coat a medium/large fry pan with ~.5cm layer

Waffles –

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal (optional)
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated or brown sugar (I used 1 tsp of each)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
  • ~1/3 cup chopped pecans

Apricot Syrup

  • 4 tbsp apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • ~1/3 cup water
  • dash of cinnamon

How I do it:

  1. Prepare chicken for frying by dipping in egg wash, then seasoned flour, again in the egg wash, and finally in the breadcrumbs, coating evenly
  2. Prepare waffle batter by combining flour, cornstarch, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl.  In another bowl whisk together egg yolks, milk and vanilla until combined.  In yet another bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks, add sugar, then whisk again to stiff peaks.  Slowly add milk/egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture, whisking lightly until most big clumps have been eliminated, then stirring in melted butter.  Finally, carefully fold in egg whites making sure not to over-stir.
  3. Prepare syrup by combining preserves, honey, sugar, water, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over high heat.  Mix together and boil for a couple of minutes until sugar is dissolved and liquid reduces to a syrup like consistency.  Set aside to cool.
  4. To make waffles, preheat waffle iron per its directions.  Lightly grease both surfaces with oil or spray and sprinkle a light coating of pecans over lower surface.  Add enough batter to fill lower mold (obviously, this will vary depending on your machine, but is likely between 3/4 cup and 1 1/2 cups per waffle as pictured above).  Cook waffles to preferred doneness, againm per the directions that come with your waffle iron.  I prefer mine dark golden brown with a healthy crisp outside and soft interior.
  5. While waffles are being made, heat oil in large frying pan over medium/medium-high heat.  Fry breaded chicken thighs until golden brown, approximately 4-5 minutes on each side.
  6. Waffles and chicken can be kept warm on a wire rack in a 250 degree oven depending on how quickly they are made.
  7. To serve, butter a waffle, cover in syrup, then fried chicken, and more syrup.  Chow down.
  8. Extra waffles can easily be frozen for later consumption and keep and reheat really well. Just pop them in the toaster like you would a store-bought frozen waffle, except these are, you know, like way better.
%d bloggers like this: