Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My weekend originally appeared to be a bit of a slower one with a visit to the hometown and then a relaxing Sunday as the significant other was scheduled to be in Montana on a mini-break. However, due to "Acts of God," his flight was cancelled and I found myself back in the city with a very disgruntled non-traveler and the task of salvaging a bit of cheer.

In a moment of brilliance, I recommended a late dinner at Tango Sur, an Argentinian restaurant not far from our house. An incredibly popular place, we found out at 8:30 pm that the wait was still approaching two hours. Refusing to be deterred from the promise of BYOB wine, we hit a few local establishments first and suddenly the evening was on the cusp of capturing the joviality we experience in Paris.

Around 11 pm, we took our seats at one of the best seats in the restaurant with a single candle and high-spirited diners surrounding us. Wine was flowing freely at tables and the food was rich and delicious. It was exactly what made me fall in love with Paris in November.

Our journey was for made for four reasons:
  1. To eat our body weight in foie gras.
  2. To drink our body weight in cocktails and local spirits.
  3. To earn miles for a trip to Argentina in 2012. 
  4. To help me forget my ill-fated trip in 2001 which left a sour taste in my mouth.
Did we succeed? Absolutely! Some of the best three days of my life. Hands down. Viva la France!

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Banana Stand

With the news that "Arrested Development" has been picked up by Netflix for new episodes, I felt inspired by the prospect of more Banana Stand moments to use up some very black and very odd looking pieces of fruit chilling in my freezer.

I love quick breads and have a pumpkin bread recipe that I have made multiple times and can't imagine switching out. But a great banana bread has always alluded me. What is the secret ingredient that turns a ho-hum bread into something worth touting to the world? Yogurt? Nutmeg? Almond extract?

Many months ago I pinned a recipe from I Am Baker and decided to give it a go. I added 1/2 tsp of instant coffee since I firmly believe that this small addition made my Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip muffins (courtesy of Baked) so amazing.

And the verdict?

Disaster. Like my blueberry muffins of last weekend, the bread came out very dense. Also, because it takes so long to get the middle of the bread baked through, the outside gets too dark too quickly and in this case, caramelized. Although the crust is kind of yummy, I don't really like gnawing on my banana bread.

I was kicking myself for whatever mysterious thing I did wrong for about five minutes. I'm very careful not to overstir and my baking soda/baking powders are fresh.What curse has come over my baking these days?

Then I took a moment. And realized that in my haste to jot down the recipe for use in the kitchen, I didn't include the oil. Can I blame a case of the Fridays?

I will definitely be trying this recipe again with the proper ingredients as the taste is definitely there!

The original (with oil) recipe:

Perfect Banana Bread
Adapted from I Am Baker

2 eggs
1/3 cup vanilla yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup ripe mashed bananas
1 ½ cups white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ¾  cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½  tsp salt
½  tsp instant espresso powder

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and prepare chosen pan.
  2. Blend together the eggs, yogurt, oil, extract and bananas in mixer with low speed.
  3. Add in sugars and fully incorporate.  
  4. Add flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder and mix until just combined. 
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Start checking early as each oven is different, but mine took 75 minutes.