Marbled Banana Bread

I think of banana bread as a “free” recipe. Overripe fruit, otherwise trash, is transformed into a quick little bread using items you probably have in your pantry. I have a few variations of banana bread in rotation – Melissa Clark’s version is particularly good.

Last Sunday afternoon, in a vain attempt for something sweet that a) involved chocolate b) did not use the 2 eggs destined for breakfast, I concocted this (full disclosure) vegan version. “Vegan?!” you say. Hear me out. People have been making cakes without butter or eggs for years. One of my family’s favorites, nanny’s hot water chocolate cake, relies on a few WWII-era tricks to keep it moist, using, you guessed it, boiling water.

If you like cake that masquerades as breakfast food, you’ll love this. After polishing off a good portion of it, I realized you could take this into full dessert territory with frosting. I have big plans for a peanut butter glaze next time. Nanny hated PB, but I’m sure she would approve.

Marbled Banana Bread

Ingredients

1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 4 small bananas)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup almond milk (or any other milk) + 1 tsp. vinegar (this mimicks buttermilk)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour or spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water, divided

Directions

Heat oven to 350 F. Prepare boiling water (no need to measure). Lightly grease an 8×4 loaf pan.

Mash the banana in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugars, olive oil, milk and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and salt. Add to the banana mixture, folding gently until combined (it’s OK if its lumpy – don’t overmix).

Scoop one cup of the batter up and transfer it to a separate mixing bowl. Now, in a small tea cup mix the cocoa powder with 3 tablespoons boiling water and stir vigorously with a fork until the chocolate is dissolved. Add this chocolate mixture to the one cup of banana and mix until the chocolate is thoroughly smooth and incorporated.

Add 3 tablespoons of boiling water to the regular banana mixture and mix the batter just until relatively smooth.

Scoop alternate 1/2 cupfuls of chocolate/banana batter into the loaf pan. Once all of the batter is in, swirl it with a knife or long skewer.

Bake for 55 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing. I store mind wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then tin foil.

-Recipe adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

Creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup

When you are surrounded by food all day, it’s sometimes hard to decide what to feed yourself. The food I prepare for my clients ers on the side of traditional: proteins, veggies, starches. There are a lot of requests for boneless skinless chicken breasts, quinoa and freezable meals. At the end of the day, the thought of turning on the stove, well, turns me off. I liken it to people who spend all day on a computer – you just want to do something (anything) else when you get home. This soup is the exception. I make this creamy (creamless) carrot-ginger for clients, in some shape or form, all the time. It can be made in advance and reheats well, so it’s perfect for dinner parties (or lazy Wednesdays on the couch). A few tips:

  • Don’t stress about chopping the onions and ginger perfectly. All of their imperfections will be forgiven once blended.
  • Depending on my mood, I add curry or garam masala – or not. It’s delicious either way.
  • This can be made entirely vegan by using vegetable stock or water and subbing the yogurt drizzle for my new favorite thing – cashew cream (as pictured above).
  • Yes, you can freeze this one.

Creamy Carrot-Ginger Soup

Makes about 8 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (olive, grapeseed or my favorite coconut oil)
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 2″ piece ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp. curry powder or garam masala (optional)
  • 1 large bunch carrots (about 7 medium-sized carrots), peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups or more vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
  • 1-2 cups coconut milk
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • For serving: plain yogurt (thinned with a little water) or cashew cream(optional)

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, curry powder (if using) and a large pinch of salt. Cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes (you just want to sweat them, no color). Add carrots and cover with stock and/or water. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Simmer until carrots are very soft, about 30 minutes. Add 1 cup coconut milk. Let cool slightly. Puree in a blender, adding more coconut milk or stock to thin out. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper, for a little heat. Serve with a swirl of plain yogurt or cashew cream.

Swiss Chard with Golden Raisins and Spiced Squash Seeds

We all learned to love spinach. Then we went kale-crazy. Now, Swiss chard is taking over as the new green on the block. Hearty and nutrient-packed, Swiss chard is a welcome respite from the cold veggies of summer. I upgraded the basic saute with a handful of sweet golden raisins and crunchy, spiced squash seeds leftover from a butternut squash (which I used to make gnocchi – more on that one soon!) The perfect fall side to roasted meats or as a vegetarian main with couscous or cornbread.

Swiss Chard with Golden Raisins and Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

For Swiss chard:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 bunches Swiss chard
  • 1 medium yellow onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For spiced pumpkin seeds:

  • 1/4 cup tablespoons pumpkin or butternut squash seeds, fresh* or store-bought
  • 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cumin
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

For Swiss Chard:

  1. Thoroughly wash and dry the Swiss chard. With a sharp knife, separate the leaves from the stems. Finely dice the stems, set aside. Stack the leaves and roll up like a cigar; thinly slice the leaves into a fine chiffonade; set aside.
  2. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the grated onion and a pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds. Add the stems, 2 tablespoons water  and cover, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add leaves and stir. Cover and cook until leaves are wilted, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in golden raisins. Top with pumpkin seeds.

For Spiced Pumpkin Seeds:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °. Toss the seeds with 1/2 teaspoon canola oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cool.

* Don’t throw away the seeds from fresh squash.  Rinse away squash flesh and pulp and thoroughly dry before roasting.

What’s In Season Now?

As the season’s change, you might be asking yourself “what’s in season?” Early fall is a great time for produce. Here is a rundown of what’s fresh in New York + recipe ideas (for all other areas, visit the Peak Season map on Epicurious):

What’s In Season

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Plums
  • Raspberries
  • Tomatoes
Recipes

Creamy Dill Hummus with Crunchy Cucumbers

Sour cream dill dip with pumpernickel bread was a favorite growing up in Upstate New York. Thick, creamy, rich yet refreshing, the dip was plopped in a scooped-out round pumpernickel loaf. The hollowed-out pieces were used for dipping. When the bread pieces were gone, we ate the bread bowl, too. I channeled the dill dip experience here, using fresh ingredients. My standard hummus recipe is jazzed up with a handful of dill, while cucumbers add a satisfying crunch and pickle vibe. Other good dippers: toasted whole grain pita, carrots, endive, jicama and cherry tomatoes.

Creamy Dill Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (liquid reserved, optional)
  • 2 T. tahini
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • Handful fresh dill, washed and roughly chopped (leaves only)
  • 2 tablespoons water or reserved liquid from the chickpeas
  • Extra Virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne
  • Sliced cucumbers, for serving

Directions

In a food processor, combine garlic, chickpeas, tahini, a few tablespoons lemon juice, dill and a pinch of kosher salt and cayenne. Pulse to combine. With machine running, stream in a little water or reserved bean liquid until you reach a creamy consistency (this may take a couple minutes), scraping down sides. For an even creamier dip, stream in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and adjust with additional salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Chill before serving. Serve with cucumbers.

Vegetable Coconut Masala

I am a relatively new coconut oil convert. Full of omega-6 fatty acids, extra virgin coconut oil has been touted to support health (check out this Huff Po article.) Its delicious flavor and aroma is a cooks best friend, lending itself to Thai, Indian and Carribbean dishes (to name a few). It’s high smoke point is a dream for stir-frying. Liquid at room temperature and solid if cold, coconut oil is generally sold in tubs; I like Whole Foods 365 brand Expeller Pressed Virgin Cocnut Oil, a steal at $9.50/16 fl. oz. Yes, this is a little more expensive than say, Pathmark brand corn oil, but the flavor and versatility are unmatched.

This veggie-packed curry is keeper because cauliflower and sweet potatoes are available year-round. In the winter, simply sub high-quality canned tomatoes for the fresh. Curry in a hurry!

Vegetable Coconut Masala

Ingredients

  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 T. Garam Masala or high-quality curry powder
  • 1 T. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes (or 1 15-0z. can diced tomatoes)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Salt
  • Sriracha or other hot chile sauce

Directions

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut oil. Add the onion and ginger and cook until translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and Garam Masala and stir to toast, about 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes and sweet potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes (use a spoon to lightly mash the tomatoes). Season with salt. Add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Add the coconut milk and cover the pan. Cook until the cauliflower is crisp-tender, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Season to taste with salt and Sriracha. Garnish with cilantro.

Summer Sweet Corn Soup

Corn is on its A-game right now. I can’t seem to get enough of it – on the cob, off the cob, in salads, sautéed and now, soup. This sweet corn soup enlists a really splendid method of boiling the cobs to make a flavorful stock. A quick trip in the blender and you’ve got a creamy soup (without the cream). I originally planned on serving this hot, but it was surprisingly good cold the next day.

Summer Sweet Corn Soup

Ingredients

For the stock:

  • 4 or 5 ears corn
  • 1 small onion, quartered (or 1 leek stalk, cut into chunks)
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed lightly
  • Salt

For the soup:

  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • Thinly sliced scallion (for garnish, optional)
Directions

1. To make the stock, cut the kernels from the corn and set aside. Combine the corn cobs, onion, carrot and garlic in a large pot. Add 2 quarts water and bring to a boil. Season with a little salt. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Strain and return to a boil. Transfer to a smaller pot when reduced to about 5 cups.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot. Add the onion and salt and cook until tender. Add the corn kernels and cook a few minutes. Add the corn stock. Bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

3. Transfer 1/2 the soup to a blender or food processor (let cool!) Carefully blend until smooth. Return to the pot with the chunky soup, stir and bring to a boil. Adjust seasoning.

4. Serve hot or cold with a little scallion.

Recipe adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s Recipes for Health

Fava Bean & Couscous Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

Fava Bean & Couscous Salad with Tahini-Lemon Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fava beans, fresh, dried or canned (for how to cook, see this NYT article)
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 small tomato, cored, seeded and diced (I used a yellow tomato)
  • 1/2 cup couscous (any type), cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1 T. tahini
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced into a paste
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, gently combine fava beans, olives, tomato and couscous.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, cumin and garlic. Whisk in tahini and olive oil in a stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add dressing to fava/couscous mixture and toss to coat (be sure not to overdress). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving.

Corn and Black Bean Salad with Cilantro and Lime

The salads continue! New York has been blistering hot this week. A pressure cooker, you could say. Cold salads are the only thing palatable in this weather (with no A/C nonetheless!) I grew up eating this corn and black bean salad – it’s a mainstay on my Mom’s summer menu. I remember as a kid we would take day trips to Southwick Beach on Lake Ontario, about 45 minutes from where I grew up near Syracuse, New York. On the way home, we would always stop for fresh corn from roadside stands – the best! The corn was so delicious, you would barely need butter or salt (my Grandpa always ate it like that). While it’s still a bit early in the season for local corn, I couldn’t resist snagging a few ears for this salad.

Corn and Black Bean Salad with Cilantro and Lime

Yield: Approx. 6 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 small red or yellow tomato, cored and seeded, small dice
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, cleaned and finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1.  Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Add corn and cover, simmering until fork tender. Remove and cool.
  2. Meanwhile, combine red bell pepper, tomato, red onion, cilantro and black beans. Add lime juice and drizzle with olive oil, adding more to taste. Add cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper; mix thoroughly.
  3. When corn is cool, remove from cobs and toss with black bean mixture, adding more lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Chill 1 hour before serving.

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato and Black Bean Mole Chili

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!!!

‘Slow cooker’ sounds so much more lovely than ‘Crock Pot’, no? Over the past year I have grown rather fond of this old-school appliance. While I usually gravitate towards flash-in-the pan weeknight recipes, the weekend calls for dishes simmering low and slow. Vegetarian chili has many variations and is an economical (and tasty) way to pull together a meal out of your cupboard. As many of my friends will attest, I LOVE sweet potatoes (most notably in the French style…fried. Yeah, not so healthy). These orangey tubers are an unconventional addition to a your basic pepper-onion-bean chili. A dash of chili powder, cumin, cinnamon and cocoa (!) and this chili is elevated to mole status.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Mole Chili

Ingredients

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 T. chili powder

1 T. cumin

2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

kosher salt and black pepper

1 28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 15.5-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Directions

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker (Crock Pot), combine the onion, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Add the tomatoes (and their liquid), beans, sweet potato, and 1 cup water (or low sodium vegetable broth).

Cover and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the chili has thickened, on low for 7 to 8 hours  or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).

Serve with chopped scallions, sour cream, tortilla chips or cornbread.

-Recipe adapted from Real Simple