Banana Bread - AntiChef

If you have followed me on this blog thing, you may remember that once in a while I have an excess amount of very ripe bananas on hand. My two year old loves them, or at least the first couple of bites, so there are always opportunities for me to come up with creative ways to NOT lose the bananas. I don't do a lot of baking really. I guess I am just lazy...or, maybe it's a confidence thing. Whatever the case, I have recently overcome fear and laziness to turn what would otherwise be compost or smoothie prep into warm, wonderful and fragrant treats. I have a recipe for banana (nut) bread from an old family recipe box. This one in particular is credited to the firecracker wife of a "G-Man", Mrs. Jo King. I hope you enjoy this easy to make, and delicious recipe.


1/2 c. butter (softened)
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
(1/3 c. nuts, chopped)
3 bananas, mashed (about a cup =/-)
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder


-cream butter and sugar-
-add unbeaten eggs, nuts and bananas-
-add flour, soda, and baking powder
-cook in well greased pans @ 350 for 45 minutes plus
makes two medium or six miniatures

and that is it. As written. I have found that on baking time, I need about 55 minutes. You will notice the bread split on top as it nears readiness. Check the progress using a bamboo skewer or one of those actual cake testing metal rods like you may have seen in the movies, or in YOUR grandma's kitchen. Once this has been removed from the oven, cool the bread in pans on cooling racks for 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely on the racks.
I made this recently and sent some to my mom. She was very motherly in her critique. I made a loaf the morning my dad came down to inspect the newborn here. Dad is the official photographer/scout/infant inspector of my side of the family, as mom can't travel so well anymore...arthritis, evil stuff. Anyway, I cut the loaf in half to send some up to mother. She remarked that it was "delicious........but", and I knew. I had not let it "cure" or as she calls it "ripen". She explained to me that once the bread is cooled properly, you must wrap it in either wax paper, or plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil, and leave it alone at room temperature for about 24 hours. I knew this. It's just like with a fruit cake, she went on....and I just listened. See, I get it ...and I also often have quite a bit of sport made of me and of the fact that no matter what I am cooking, pot of chili, chowder, stew, banana bread, Christmas Liquor Tea...I always insist that it be not disturbed until tomorrow. Nobody wants to wait until tomorrow, once you have gone to the trouble and few hours time to make the house smell all nice and loved. Everybody wants it NOW these days. But please....do yourselves and my exceedingly loving and detail oriented mother a favor, wrap it and let it rest before you enjoy it.
Once you have gotten down the road a day, and you get into the goodness, try a few favorite tweaks of mine. I like to use it in place of French Toast...no need to really soak it in eggs, just throw slices of it into a hot frying pan with some butter, and dress with a little drizzle of honey, or not...for a nice brunch accompaniment. Or, go with my favorite, a nice one-upper for the peanut butter and banana sandwich....slice thinly and stuff with bacon and cheese and then hook it up like a grilled cheese....do it! My sister in law has made cakes from the recipe and covered them in cream cheese icing...and that sounds good too, or what about peanut butter butter cream frosting on there??? Just make some banana bread. Think about it anyway, the next time you see three over-ripened bananas laying there in the bowl...looking at you, ...- all sad.

Funny note about mom, who is one of the most humble and compassionate people I know. We were discussing recipes once. Some people are very guarded with them, won't share...or they will give you a recipe and leave an ingredient out somewhere. Not my mom. And she said to me once, regarding this fact: " If you ask me for my lemon pound cake recipe, I'll give it to you...there's nothing in there that's hard or mysterious...but you still won't be able to make it like mine". And she is right. She means to say that people don't spend the time nowadays to make something as good as it can be, or as good as it SHOULD be. Maybe that's why so many grown children still love to run home to their mothers, and to that comfort of home for any shred of calm or relaxation...and maybe why they plow gluttonously through every other facet of their chaotic lives in this modern fast lane. But I don't really know, so I say maybe a lot.


Crowd-Pleasing Baked Pasta -killertomato

The killertomato household was taken hostage by SNOWMG 2011, and we did a lot of cookin'. Making its appearance for the second time this winter was the type of dish I usually scrunch my face up at, and I've now coined The American Dream, involves your chili and your macaroni and cheese getting all mixed up in the same bowl. It does provide a certain comfort, particularly on the night it was 13 degrees outside and our heat was broken.

So, there was that, a vegetable pie with Greek pita dough which I had saved in the freezer, gnocchi drizzled with pesto, biscuits, country ham with red eye gravy, and poached eggs, buttermilk pecan waffles and hot chocolate, quite a few tacos, and some other cold day scratch-togethers that made it a deliciously cozy week.
This post concerns a very simple pasta dish since it seemed to go over the best, hitting the spot so well it was half eaten before it was done baking!

It was getting to the point where the roads were still icy as hell and I'd heard the grocery stores were depleted anyhow. Our house sits in sort of a valley between two hills, I kept having these horrific waking dream sequences where my car slid into a neighbor's and a hit and run wouldn't even be possible...anyway...we do have a store to walk to but that's not in the manifesto. The manifesto states: "Use what you have!"

We had:
leftover Bechamel
Parmigiano Reggiano, yeah the good stuff!
canned tomatoes
frozen breadcrumbs

See where I am going? If we think alike, you are thinking of that baked pasta thing you can get in the food court at the mall. Oh, yeah!

Here's my version:
Cook the macaroni. (I used about 3/4 o a 1 lb box)
Heat the Bechamel on low and stir it back to a smooth consistency, or make some. Look for Mario Batali's simple recipe at the bottom of this entry.*
Make your sauce tomato sauce:
Saute 2 garlic cloves and a small onion in a generous amount of olive oil. Add 1 lb canned tomatoes. Season with lots of salt and pepper, some dried oregano and dried basil.
(I have some nice, fragrant basil we dried at home last fall. Store bought dried basil is shit. If you can use fresh, put it in after you take the sauce from the heat.)
Bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Blend your sauce, and combine with the Bechamel.
Now, layer your pasta, lots of cheese if you can, sauce, and breadcrumbs and bake on 350 or 45 minutes to an hour. Where are my bread sticks at? I ordered bread sticks, dammit.

*Mario Batali's Bechamel Sauce:
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.


Giving The Turnip Its Due, Quickly -killertomato

I love the bitterness of turnips, so instead of trying to mask it, here's a quick and simple recipe that punctuates it. B brought home some lovely, tender brisket from work and so the addition of red wine to the turnips really worked with it. I also prepared some kale like collard greens, with onion, garlic, the ever-present chicken stock and seasoning.

You'll need:
olive oil
red wine

Heat the olive oil over medium and when it is hot, add the turnips, cover with paprika and a bit of salt and toss around until the paprika is evenly distributed and the turnips are browned on the edges. Turn the heat to medium high and add enough red wine until it comes about halfway up the turnips. Not covering them, but a generous amount. When the oil and wine start boiling, stir frequently until the liquid is reduced. The turnips should soften but still have a bite. This is really doing justice to the turnip!