The Best Fresh Blueberry Muffins

Fresh Blueberry Muffins 3
Sorry for the delay in posts.  I can’t really blame it on anything except feeling bloated, it’s 100 degrees outside, I don’t feel like cooking anything that’s picture-worthy and I’m rearranging my entire house to make room for a little human that will only weigh about 7 pounds.  So here’s another indulgent baked goods recipe that both me and my little growing baby demand in spades these days (hey, I passed my glucose test almost too well.  This kid needs sugar!)
Blueberries are $1.30 for a pint at our local supermarket!  I bought a couple pints and plan on freezing some for those lonely winter months without a fresh berry in sight.  Plus, I need to start thinking about literally storing up for winter as we will have a brand new baby to feed around the clock during the holidays, on top of everything else that will need to be done!  I’m thinking these muffins will be perfect to freeze and gently warm in the oven when we need breakfast, yet don’t have the brain capacity to read a recipe.
Fresh Blueberry Muffins 2
I made these last week  from the New Best Recipe cookbook and they turned out magically perfect.  I used fresh instead of frozen, as the recipe suggests, and I indeed had “explosions of tart berries throughout the muffins” but I certainly didn’t mind.  Because the recipe was testing in the winter when blueberries were out of season.  The blueberries in the store now taste like…blueberries!  So grab them while you can and whip these up for breakfast tomorrow morning!  I brushed these with melted butter and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar for a little extra love.  Fresh Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

The Best Fresh Blueberry Muffins*
makes a dozen

10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached AP flour (Gold Medal makes a softer muffin because it doesn’t have as much protein as King Arthur.)
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sour cream
7-8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) frozen or fresh blueberries

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with papers, like I do, because I live in terror of baked goods sticking.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk the egg in a separate medium bowl until well combined and light colored, about 20 seconds.  Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss until they’re all coated.  Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed, 25-30 seconds.  Don’t overmix, some spots of flour will remain.

Scoop into the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake until muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through baking time.  Dump the muffins onto a wire rack, stand the muffins upright and let them cool 5 minutes.  Serve as is, or brushed with butter and dipped into cinnamon sugar.  You win either way.

*taken from The Best New Recipe.  This cookbook will make you look so, so smart.

Rustic Vichyssoise (potato and leek soup)

Vichyssoise 2
Too hot outside for another soup recipe?  What if I told you it was a cold soup?  Would that change your mind or keep you further away?  We are okay with gazpacho so why not potato and leek?  Maybe if it had a fancy French name?  Vichyssoise (pronounced vishy-swah) is a silky potato soup, cooled down with cream and it might just become your new favorite soup.

A French chef at the Ritz in the 1950s, Louis Diat, was credited with this soup’s [cold] invention.  He said as a boy, he and his brother would cool off the potato and leek soup his grandmother would make, by pouring milk or cream into the hot soup.  He loved the experience so much, he wanted to create a soup for his patrons at the Ritz similar to the soup he had as a boy.

I haven’t quite gotten behind the cold version, yet.  I think the silky potato soup is amazing hot and it has so much depth.  For a dish that has so few ingredients, it tastes like it has a dozen. The potato/leek combination is rather magical in and of itself.  Matt loves the cold version (chill the soup first, then add cream, or you’ll just end up with lukewarm soup if you add cream to hot soup) I love it hot, Olive loves it somewhere in between and once again, this is a great way to provide vegetables for a great little eater who is otherwise distracted by the experience of being two :)

I, of course, defaulted to my favorite French cookbook for the recipe – Winnie never steers me wrong!

Vichyssoise 1
Rustic Vichyssoise* (rustic because I forgot to peel the potatoes first)

2 TBS unsalted butter
2 medium-size leeks (or one Texas size – white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed and chopped, about 1 cup)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I had beef broth on hand and it turned out great)
1.5 lbs yellow or white potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped(or unpeeled if you forget and want to call it rustic :))
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 TBS heavy cream
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives for garnish

Melt the butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until tender but not brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Pour in the broth slowly and then add the potatoes and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and cook at an active simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Blend in the pot with an immersion blender until no chunks of potato remain (or, working in batches, puree in a blender).  Stir in the cream and season with extra salt and pepper, if needed.  Garnish with fresh chives and add extra cream to your liking.  For making traditional Vichyssoise, chill the soup for a few hours and then add about 1/4 cup cold cream or half and half to each serving.  Re-season as needed.

*slightly adapted from the Bonne Femme Cookbook

Hot Chicken!

Hot Chicken
Guest Post from The Bread Man, today:

When we went to Nashville to visit my family this summer I knew I had to try some hot chicken. I asked my brother and my cousin if they had been to Prince’s, and both replied that they would like to, but hadn’t found anyone willing to visit that part of town with them. Problem solved. We took my grandparents’ Buick to a little strip mall in east Nashville, and after a quick trip to the ATM (Prince’s is cash only) we ordered a bunch of chicken in heat levels ranging from mild to extra hot. We waited for our order for something close to an hour, with the kitchen constantly calling out orders. The room was always crowded, even on a weeknight, but I think I only saw one table where people were eating – everyone seems to order carry out. You can call ahead, but I got nothing but a busy signal whenever I tried.

When we got home everyone dug in. The chicken isn’t saucy like Buffalo chicken, the heat comes from a mix of oil and spices (notably cayenne) that is brushed on the chicken after frying. The bread each piece was packed with had soaked up the excess oil, making the chicken a relatively clean meal. Bread is a good idea too – or potato salad, or anything else you can find to tame the heat! I love it when I get something with just the right amount of heat – it builds until it seems too much, but a couple of minutes later I’m reaching for another piece. The crust on Prince’s chicken is super crunchy despite the oil, the chicken was juicy, and the spice is great – garlicky with a hint of sweetness. The “hot” chicken was about perfect for me, but even the medium is respectably hot. The mild was tame enough that my notoriously heat-averse grandfather enjoyed it. The extra hot? Too much for me. I know a couple of people that would probably enjoy it, but I couldn’t handle more than a couple of bites.
I loved making hot chicken at home. The oil and spice mix is a great technique – we made some cayenne-free pieces for Olive and the flavor of the brown sugar and garlic stands out so much more when brushed on after frying than it does when the spice is in the flour. Even if you aren’t making hot chicken, this trick is worth stealing. I encourage you though to be brave and mix entire tablespoons of cayenne into the oil – when do you ever get to put even a single tablespoon of cayenne in anything?. Get a jar of pickles, a side of potato salad, a stack of soft white bread, and find that sweet spot.

Hot Chicken Dinner
Seen here with a side of corn slaw and sweet pickles.  Perfect!

Hot Chicken*

2 – 3.5-4 lb chicken, each cut into 10 pieces (breasts halved)
1 TBS fresh ground black pepper
2 TBS  plus 4 tsp kosher salt
4 eggs
2 cups buttermilk or whole milk
2 TBS vinegar-based hot sauce
4 cups AP flour
Vegetable oil (for frying – about 10 cups)
6 TBS cayenne pepper
2 TBS dark brown sugar
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika

Toss chicken with black pepper and 2 TBS salt in a large bowl.  Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

Whisk eggs, buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl.  Whisk flour and remaining 4 tsp salt in another large bowl.

Fit a Dutch oven with a thermometer; pour in oil to measure 2 inches up the side.  Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 325F. Pat chicken dry.  Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess, then dip in buttermilk mixture, letting excess drip back into bowl.  Dredge again in flour mixture and place on a baking sheet.

Working in 4 batches and returning oil to 325F between batches, fry chicken, turning occasionally, until skin is deep golden borwn and crisp and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 160F for white meat and 165 for dark, 15-18 minutes.  Transfer to a clean wire rack set inside a baking sheet.  Let oil cool slightly.

Whisk cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder and paprika in a medium bowl; carefully whisk in 1 cup frying oil.  Brush fried chicken with spicy oil.  Serve with bread and pickles.

*taken from the July issue of Bon Appetit magazine

 

Homemade Banana Meringue Pudding

Banana Meringue Pudding
I’ve had a long-standing love for banana pudding.  Between it and Bananas Foster, I have a hard time choosing my favorite.  At one point, it was my favorite dessert on earth.  I bounce back and forth, now, between Sticky Toffee Pudding or Bananas Foster.  Or anything with lemon.  Or chocolate.

My favorite type of banana pudding, however, is the one that has the sweetened condensed milk and sour cream and extra Nilla wafers and all that awesome goodness, but I’m always up for trying a new version. (Matt made this version pictured, by the way).  I’ve seen pastry chefs putting meringue on more than just pies for a while.  So when we saw a meringue on top of a banana pudding in the latest issue of Bon Appetit, we knew it had to be a winner.  And it was!  However, I immediately knew a few tweaks I wanted to do to it once we tasted it.  First, the base custard just wasn’t banana-y enough.  We always keep a few black bananas in our freezer – when you want banana flavor, nothing beats an over-ripe banana.  It’s so concentrated that just one will do to amp up the flavor in a vanilla pudding to make it burst with sweet banana flavor.  Also, I would use a cooked meringue or a brown sugar meringue instead of the one from this recipe because the meringue wept too much, filling the leftovers up with water.  Ick.  Cooking your egg whites and sugar before whipping takes care of this problem.

However, for a eat-in-one-sitting recipe, the Bon Appetit version was great (but not banana-y enough, and leftovers got weird).  So as long as you have a crowd, this dessert will impress and satisfy!  (for the recipe below, I’ve included my favorite meringue and I’ve added a super-ripe banana, pureed into the base).

Banana Pudding with Meringue
Banana Meringue Pudding

4 large eggs
cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 super ripe (black) banana
Pinch of kosher salt

 

Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl just to blend. Whisk sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk milk into sugar mixture and heat over medium heat, whisking often, until very warm to the touch. Gradually whisk half of hot milk mixture into eggs, then whisk egg mixture back into milk mixture in saucepan.

Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and whisk leaves a trail in pudding (it should be the consistency of mayonnaise), about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter, vanilla, a super-duper ripe banana and salt and puree with an immersion blender until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.

 

Cover pudding with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface. Chill until cool, about 2 hours.
For the meringue:

3 large egg whites (room temp)
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Place the brown sugar in a medium, heavy saucepan with high sides (that sugar will boil up and scare the meringue right out of you if you have a small pan), add water to cover, attach a candy thermometer to the pan, and turn the heat on high. When the sugar is at about 240 degrees, start whipping the whites on high speed (they should be foamy and starting to thicken before you add the sugar). When the sugar is at the high soft-ball stage (245 degrees), remove the thermometer from the sugar and, with the mixer still running, carefully avoiding the whip, pour the sugar into the egg whites in a thin stream. When steam starts to come off the whites, add the sugar more quickly. When all sugar has been added, continue whipping until firm but soft peaks form.

For Assembly:

1 box Nilla wafers
3 ripe bananas, sliced

Spread one third of the banana pudding into a casserole dish (9×9 or 9×13 will do fine).  Top with a layer of alternating bananas and cookies, then more pudding and repeat until most or all of your ingredients are used up.  Top with meringue and torch with a blow torch if that’s how you roll, or under a broiler with a very watchful eye (as in, don’t take your eyes off it).

Peperonata – new uses for old things

Peperonata with Cajun Shrimp and Cornbread
I love learning new ways to use vegetables.  I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know much to do with most vegetables except roast them or turn them into soups.  Granted, those are two very easy and tasty options, but it lacks…creativity.  And in order to keep eating my vegetables, I need variety!  I have a new friend who is vegetarian and gave me the suggestion to purchase the Moosewood Restaurant cookbook, a book based off the recipes served at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, NY.  She said it was one of the best books for vegetarianism and had so much variety and the recipes were so easy, it was always her go-to for what to cook.

Matt dog-eared the recipe for Peperonata, a bell pepper and onion saute that can be used on just about any meal as a garnish or side dish.  Much like the Romesco sauce I posted about a few weeks ago, this dish is full of flavor and extremely versatile.  The night I cooked it, I made our favorite cornbread recipe and served the pepronata on top of a cut and buttered piece of cornbread and added some cajun broiled shrimp as more of the side dish and let the vegetable be the main course!  I like to flip-flop proportions every now and then to get more into the habit of seeing vegetables as the star of the show instead of the 30 second commercial.

First recipe from Moosewood: win!  I am excited to dig through and learn more as I go!

Peperonata with Cornbread and Cajun Shrimp

Peperonata*
makes about 6 cups

3 red bell peppers
3 green bell peppers
2 large white or red onions (about 3 cups sliced)
2 TBS olive oil
1 cup canned plum tomatoes, or 2 fresh tomatoes (don’t drain the can)
2 TBS red wine vinegar
salt and ground pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar

Slice the peppers and onions lengthwise into strips.  Heat the oil in a large (LARGE) skillet over medium heat.  Add the peppers and onions and saute, stirring frequently, until tender and slightly browned.  This took me about 20 minutes.
Stir the tomatoes and vinegar into the peppers and cook for about 5-10 minutes more, until the liquid evaporates.  Add the salt and pepper to your liking and sugar.
Serve over buttered cornbread, in pasta, tucked in an omelet, as a garnish on a hamburger, a topping for hotdogs – it’s really endless!

*recipe from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Roll - cross section
Good Sunday morning to you all!  This week has been a tough one for me.  I got sick on Tuesday and as anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, you can’t take the good meds when you’re sick.  So I had the usual, insulting cold in the middle of summer, had two weddings and one family shoot to edit, made a ginormous birthday cake for a friend which took up all of Tuesday AND my wonderful redhead decided to cut her usual nap time in half, so I had only one good hour during the day to get my photo work done (still got the wedding done in my two-week time frame – bragging, I don’t care, gotta throw that out there).

Blackberry Lime Morning Rolls
In the midst of my feeling like my head was stuck in a cloud and everything else, I felt it was the right time to make cinnamon rolls.  I don’t know – it was just therapeutic.  A few weeks ago, Matt made Joy the Baker’s first Baking Bootcamp recipe – a triple berry cinnamon swirl bread – and it was just outstanding.  Wonderful recipe and the flavors were so perfect.
Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
The day he made it, I knew I wanted to turn it into cinnamon rolls with some kind of citrus glaze.  I finally got around to it and…score.  They were so bright and comforting at the same time.  I will definitely make these again when I’m not afflicted with Taste Blindness (I’ll expound on that, later).  And you should make them, too!  They take about an hour less than typical from-scratch cinnamon rolls and can be used with most any fruit – so get creative!

Morning Rolls - Blackberry Lime

 

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing*

For the Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm
1 large egg yolk 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt a bit of olive oil for greasing the bowl

For the Filling: 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest from two limes
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

In a medium bowl stir yeast with sugar. Stir in  the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.  It should foam and froth. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start kneading it until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes more.  Dough ball should be smooth and damp, without being too sticky.  Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover.  Allow to rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.  Set aside. After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead twice.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches. Spoon the cinnamon filling over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the fresh blackberries over the cinnamon filling and grate the lime zest over everything.
Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls
(My blackberries were apparently from the Land of Canaan, so I had to cut them up). Start by rolling the longest side of the dough.  The roll will be a bit lumpy because of all the berries. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 1/2 inch rolls and place cut-side down.  Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before icing.

For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from one lime
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a good pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl and thin out the icing with more lime juice, or thicken it up with more sugar.  Easy as that!

Have a happy rest of your weekend :)

*I adapted Joy’s recipe for the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread a bit, but you can see her original and wonderful recipe HERE.

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls

Lemon Panna Cotta and Gingerbread with Blueberries and Thyme

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread and Thyme
When we were in Nashville last week, we had the joy of eating at Catbird Seat - an intimate restaurant with a unique seating that allows its guests to watch the chefs prepare each plate.  This restaurant combines the nuttiness of molecular gastronomy and the comfort of Southern cuisine.  It’s impressive without being too fussy.  The food was amazing and we left very satisfied!  We were served things like grilled morel mushrooms stuffed with chicken liver pate (my favorite),
photo 1
a yeast soup filled with smoked croutons and potatoes (tasted exactly like a loaded baked potato),
photo 2
and the dish that inspired today’s post: a lemon cornmeal cake with goat’s milk panna cotta and blueberries with thyme and marjoram.  Here’s a pic of the dish from the restaurant:

This was one dish that I knew I could conceivably recreate at home without any fancy equipment.  Watching them assemble this was mezmerizing and I took a few guesses as to what each component was before the chef handed me the plate.  Perks of being able to talk to the chef while they’re plating :)  When I got home, I dreamed up my own version.  I love lemon and thyme together, so I knew I’d keep that aspect of the dish.  Instead of putting lemon in the cake like they did, I infused the panna cotta with lemon and then made a gingerbread for the base because I love the flavors of gingerbread and figured it’d go well with everything.  And it did!  I happened upon some really great blueberries that actually TASTE like blueberries and the combination of all the flavors is delicate but powerful and the panna cotta is so smooth, it risks falling completely apart if moved too much.  I loved how this turned out and it really wasn’t that hard to make the components and assemble.  Next time you’re at a restaurant and love a dish – try to recreate it at home!  It’s a good way to learn to be creative in the kitchen!

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread

Lemon Panna Cotta with Gingerbread

For the panna cotta (to be done a day ahead)*:

1 cup whole milk, divided
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
Zest from two lemons, plus a wedge of the lemon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or one vanilla bean, scraped)

Pour 1/2 cup milk into a medium bowl; sprinkle gelatin over. Let sit until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, lemon zest and wedge, and remaining 1/2 cup milk in a large saucepan. Scrape vanilla seeds from bean into saucepan; add bean (or add your vanilla bean paste). Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
Bring cream mixture back to a simmer. Add gelatin mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain. Divide among eight 3/4-cup ramekins. Chill uncovered until panna cotta is set, at least 6 hours.  *adapted from Bon Appetit

For the gingerbread (to make a thin version like mine):

2¼ cups sifted (9 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon Dutch-processed cocoa
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
¾ cup mild or light molasses
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) sugar
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup milk
1 large egg

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large, rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice and coca in a medium bowl.

Beat butter, molasses, sugar, buttermilk, milk , and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer on low speed. Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth and thick, about 1 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Do not overmix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.

Bake until the top springs back when lightly touched and the edges have pulled away from the pan sides, about 20 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gingerbread can be wrapped in plastic, then foil, and refrigerated up to 5 days.

*if you want to make a regular pan of this, simply bake in a 9×13″ pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.   Adapted from The New Best Recipe.

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing
I have a wonderful friend named Katrina.  She is the mother of two, wild at heart, loves all things done from scratch and enjoys nothing more than giving things away for free that she worked hard to produce and for which she should be charging good money.  I try my best to pay her for her amazing pasture-raised, organic eggs, but occasionally she’ll leave a dozen on my porch because “she had too many to use that week.”  Look at these beauties!

free range eggs

free range and all that jazz
So a few weeks ago when I was blessed with an extra dozen eggs on my porch, I decided to sacrifice them to the baking gods and make a chiffon cake.  NOTHING whips up faster than a fresh, room temp egg white.  And when you have fresh eggs (we’re talking hours from the chicken) you do NOT have to keep them in the fridge.  And for baked goods, nearly all recipes will call for a room temp egg.  I was completely shocked the first time I used Katrina’s eggs when making a chocolate mousse and the egg whites beat into stiff peaks in about a MINUTE.  I’m not exaggerating.  Amazing.  This post is really just me bragging that I have a super cool friend who raises really great chickens who lay really amazing eggs.

For the recipe today, I give you a banana chiffon cake with salted caramel icing.  A chiffon cake is kinda like an angel food cake except not so angelic.  It uses both the yolks and whipped egg whites AND has oil.  But the texture is similar to an angel food cake except this cake is super moist.  When I was little, the only cake my grandmother would ever make (to my recollection) was an angel food cake, and I can only imagine that was because it has no added fat.  She was missing out :)

Banana Chiffon Cake

 

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing*

For the cake:

10 1/2 oz sugar
5 1/3 oz plain cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs; 2 whole, 5 separated, at room temp
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

For the icing:

1 recipe salted caramel sauce
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese at room temp

 

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk in the 2 whole eggs, 5 egg yolks (reserve the whites), water, oil and extract until the batter is just smooth.

Pour the reserved egg whites into the bowl of a sand mixer; beat at low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Add the cream of tartar, gradually increase the speed to medium-high, and beat the whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry (as little as 7 minutes in a stand mixer and as little as 2 minutes if you’re using eggs that are only 5 hours old) :) With a large rubber spatula, fold the banana mush into the batter, then fold the whites into the batter, making sure to not over mix, but being sure you get all the way down to the bottom of the bowl to incorporate whites into all the batter.

Pour the batter into an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity).  Rap the pan against the counter a few times to rupture any large air pockets.  If using a pan with a removable bottom, grasp both sides with your hands while firmly pressing down on the tube with your thumbs to keep the batter from seeping from the pan during this process. Wipe off any bbatter that may have dripped or splashed onto the inside walls of the pan with a paper towel.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes.  Immediately turn the cake upside down to cool (I’ll admit, this is scary, but have faith).  If the pan does not have prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan onto the neck of a wine bottle or funnel.  Let the cake cool COMPLETELY before inverting.

To unmold, run a thin knife around the pan between the cake and pan wall.  Use a skewer to loosen the cake from the tube.  Loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan with a knife and invert it onto a serving pan.  Hope for the best.  Half of my cake was hollow because I didn’t incorporate the egg whites sufficiently.  This is life.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides.

To make the icing:

After making the salted caramel sauce, leave it in the pan and with a mixer or by hand with a whisk, whip the softened cream cheese until fully incorporated and no tiny lumps remain.  Let it come up to room temp and then beat again before pouring over the cake.

*cake recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook.  This book is endlessly tested and will never steer you wrong.

 

Brown Butter Honey Ice Cream in Milk Toast Bowls

Japenese Milk Bread Bowl with Brown Butter Ice Cream
This recipe is insane.  What’s more insane than each component is the sum of its parts.  Matt saw a recipe for Japanese Brick Toast a few weeks ago and I had seen a similar recipe on Pinterest that looked downright heavenly.  He said in Japan they put ice cream with buttery toasted sweet bread as a dessert (…which is doubtful – I’ve seen Japanese people.  They don’t look like they eat ice cream in bread bowls).  Why has no one thought of doing a bread bowl for ICE CREAM?!  It’s genius.  The bread soaks up the melted ice cream and you’re left with this spongy cake-like texture when you get to eating the bread part.  This dessert demands to be shared.  Because if you don’t share it, you’ll feel like a dadgum glutton.  I mean, LOOK at that thing!

For the ice cream, we look no further than Jenni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  I posted about her Brown Butter Almond Brittle ice cream last year.  I’m a broken record when it comes to browned butter.  I can’t help it.  We began making ice cream out of her book about four years ago and haven’t even wasted our time with a different method.  She’s perfected the texture of homemade ice cream, in my opinion.  So for this recipe, I used her browned butter ice cream base and added honey and vanilla bean paste.  It was perfect in our little ice cream bowl.  The bread deserves a post of its own and don’t you worry – we’ll blog about it, soon.  Matt loves it too much and loved the process too much to only make it once.  He can’t wait to try it, again.  For now, enjoy a truly amazing bowl of browned butter ice cream:

Milk Toast with Brown Butter Ice Cream, Bananas and Honey

Browned Butter and Honey Ice Cream

for the base:
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1.5 oz (3 tbs) softened cream cheese
1/8 tsp fine sea salt (I use kosher)
3/4 lb unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tbs vanilla bean paste

Raw honey to fold into the ice cream

 

Mix about 2 tbs of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.  Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a large bowl until smooth.  Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a 4 quart saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let bubble until the foam starts to subside and the butter is a rich dark brown (not black!).  Remove from the heat and let stand until the butter solids settle to the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Pour the clear butter oil into a storage container (once it solidifies you can use it as you normally would for cooking so it’s not a waste!) As you get closer to the butter solids in the bottom of the pan, use a teaspoon to remove as much liquid butter as you can.  You should have about 1 tablespoon of brown butter solids and a little bit of melted fat in the bottom of the pan (it’s impossible to remove all the fat).

Add the remaining milk, cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste and corn syrup to the butter solids, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry (you’ll need to stir it up again as it will settle and solidify some).  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula or whisk, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.  Pour the mixture into a 1 gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister of your ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy.  Pack the ice cream into a storage container, folding in drizzles of raw honey as you go.  Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface of the ice cream (this is important to avoid freezer burn and maintain a good consistency) and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Layer ice cream with sliced bananas and serve in boring porcelain bowls, or sweet bread bowls.  It’s up to you.  :)  (recipe for bread bowls coming soon!)

 

Banana Coffee Almond Shake

Coffee Almond Banana shake

Coffee, frozen banana, toasted almonds, milk and a squeeze of chocolate sauce.  How can you go wrong with that?!  This is an extremely simple, delicious and relatively low sugar pick-me-up for your hot summer afternoon!  I saw a recipe similar on Serious Eats and had to try my own version!  The only sweetness comes from the banana and a tablespoon of honey – not too shabby for something that seems pretty indulgent!  It was absolutely perfect for that mid-afternoon I-gotta-have-something-sweet attack that happens to me every day.  Enjoy and change up the ingredients as you like!
Coffee Banana Almond shake

Banana Coffee Almond Shake
makes one large or two small servings

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee, room temp
1/4 cup milk (any kind of milk will work)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1 frozen banana
1 TBS honey, agave nectar, whatever you like best
5 large ice cubes (about a cup of crushed ice)

In a blender, add the coffee, milk, almonds and banana and blend for about 30 seconds.  Then add the ice and blend for 30 seconds to a minute more.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce (or not – it’s up to you, but I had some in my pantry and, well, it was awesome) and serve!