Sunday, January 27, 2008
Rainy Stay In and Cook Kind of Day- Banana Bread and Chicken Gravy Stew
Been raining all week. With a lot of free time this weekend because of the postponed backyard event, I decided to do a little cooking. G and I also took a couple of hours to go to the movies. We finally saw Sweeny Todd, and no, I'm not cooking any meat pies.
Yesterday, I cooked some chicken soup (sorry no pictures) mostly because chicken soup exudes warmth plus G was starting to develop a winter cold. Nothing like chicken soup to make you feel better. I didn't use a recipe but instead just added a little of this and a little of that based on what was in my refrigerator. Ingredients did include cut carrots, celery, green bell pepper, shallots, red onion, capers, garlic, fresh cilantro leaves, dried red chile, dried herbs including thyme, basil, parsley and oregano. One whole chicken with skin on was first brought to boil in water with a little salt. I removed the scum as it cooked. Once most scum removed, I added the veggies and herbs plus a little more salt and fresh ground black pepper. I reduced the heat to a simmer and a couple of hours later,it was ready. Rice on the side.
With the leftover soup from Saturday, I strained off the broth and used it to make a thick gravy (gravy made with olive oil, flour and chicken broth). Cooking of the gravy reduces the chicken broth and I didn't have to adjust the seasonings at all. I then returned the gravy back to the soup solids and added some of the rice. Yum, was that good. Sort of reminded me of the chicken and rice with gravy they served when I was in high school years ago. L.A. Unified recipe during the times when cafeteria meals were actually quite good. We use to look forward to the days when this was on the menu.
I also decided to do a little baking. I usually purchase bananas from Costco. For $1.30 you get quite a few bananas which I can never seem to finsh over the course of a week. Since they are so inexpensive, it doesn't hurt much to throw them out when too ripen. Today, I decided to make banana bread. I had 5 very ripe bananas which meant I had to double the recipe. I combined a recipe from a Pillsbury Complete Book of Baking cookbook I have and one from the Americn Test Kitchen Family Recipes cookbook. The components and amount of most of the ingredients was the same. The biggest difference was in using whole milk or plain yogurt. Since I didn't have any yogurt, I went for the milk. One recipe called for cooled melted butter, the other for softened butter. I used melted butter.
2 C flour
3/4 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 C butter melted
2-3 ripened bananas mashed
1/3 C milk
1/2 C coarsely chopped nuts (I had some leftover walnuts which I had toasted for 10 minutes and then coated with a small amount of butter and then tossed in some sugar to make candied walnuts.)
I mashed the bananas with the mixer. I added the eggs, vanilla and melted butter to this mixture. The dry ingredients were measured and placed in a separate bowl. I wisked the dry ingredients and then I then mixed the dry ingredients with the wet making sure to only mix til dry ingredients were incorporated. I then gently tossed in the nuts and folded to combine. (Note I used candied nuts but I didn't decrease the sugar in the base recipe because of this added sugar. It didn't adversely affect the sweetness of the bread either.)
The batter is fairly stiff. When I doubled this recipe, I had enough to fill three loaf pans (One standard size and two smaller ones). I baked it for about 55 minutes.
I was very pleased with the texture as well as the taste. Boy did my house smell great.