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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Hurray for Apple Dumplings

In my family, while growing up, when Mom made Apple Dumplings they were our supper, not a dessert. I guess Mom and Dad felt the sheer volume of calories and such were worthy of consideration as a "meal." For me, that was never enough. I have mentioned my sweet tooth in past, but it is still going as strongly today as I am approaching age 70 as it did at age 10. Mom made enough that we all had one. Possibly, Dad was allowed two, though I am not certain. But I always wished there were more, because they were one of my favorite of favorite desserts.

These days, I know how much time it takes to prepare them, and just how far they (don't) go. I can certainly sympathize with Mom's efforts to feed a big family. But, I don't think there has ever been a time when I didn't wish for more than there were. These days, if I don't keep a close eye out, my husband will just polish off the whole of the remaining dumplings in the pan. Horrors! Because that means I won't get another one!
Apple Dumplings
Apple Dumplings

Okay, I might be exaggerating. A little. Well, a teensy bit, maybe. But I just love Apple Dumplings. 

Rice Pudding

Coconut Milk and Saffron Rice Pudding
Coconut Milk and Saffron Rice Pudding
There are other things Mom made for us, that still, to this day, I crave and make. I recall Mom making rice pudding from leftover "Minute Rice." She used tapioca for the thickening. I love rice, and I love rice pudding. I do not use "Minute Rice," but when I have leftover rice (usually with saffron in it) I make rice pudding. For myself only, as my husband is not at all fond of plain rice, and something about rice pudding (despite the fact that he has a sweet tooth nearly as big as mine) is a no-no for him. So, I do not have to share, when I make rice pudding. I do, however, have to make sure there is something else that he will eat, for dessert. 

To make my version of her rice pudding, Combine about 2½ to 3 cups of milk (or substitute a can of coconut milk, adding enough water to make the amount of liquid needed) in a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of minute tapioca and ½ cup of sugar. Let stand for a few minutes, then stir and combine with 2½ cups of leftover rice. Bring the mixture to boil, stirring and once boiling, reduce to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool. Optional is adding in raisins, or cinnamon, or cinnamon stick while cooking. Add in vanilla, if desired, once off heat.

Potato Pancakes

Potato Pancakes
Potato Pancakes
Mom also made what she called "Potato Pancakes," when she had leftover mashed potatoes. They were more like a freshly hand-patted corn tortilla in texture and style. Certainly they bore no resemblance to what is termed "Potato Pancakes" in restaurants. These were made and to me, were a most particularly special treat for lunchtime next day. As we grew older, my sisters and I would beg Mom to make lots of extra mashed potatoes, so we could have Potato Pancakes for lunch next day. And preferably, more than just a couple! She served these to us first, just sprinkled with salt. Then as "dessert" a second with jam spread in the center and rolled up.Yum!

But Apple Dumplings? Oh me, oh my!


Apple Dumplings
Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings


Makes 6 Dumplings

SYRUP:
1½ cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 - 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DUMPLINGS:
pie dough recipe for double crust pie
6 medium sized baking apples, pared, cored
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut in 6 pieces 


For the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and bring to a boil, ensuring the sugar is dissolved completely. Add the butter and set aside.

For the dumplings:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pie pastry as for pie, keeping it in a relatively rectangular shape. Cut the pastry into six (7 to 8-inch) squares. Set one apple onto each square. 
 
In a small bowl, combine the ¼ cup granulated sugar, teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg, tossing well to evenly distribute the spices. Using a small spoon, place about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the cinnamon/sugar/nutmeg mixture into each core of the apples. Place one small pat of butter on top of the sugar mixture in each core. Have a small bowl of water at hand. Bring one corner of the pastry to the top of the apple (I usually start with a corner that may not be quite perfect). Dampen the top, then bring up the next corner of the dough and press into place. Repeat with the last two corners of the dough. Repeat this for the remaining 5 apples. If desired, cut little leaves out of the dough scraps and dampen the backs to adhere and decorate the tops of each dumpling. Set the dumplings, preferably not touching, into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Pour the syrup over all. 

Bake the dumplings for approximately 45 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden. Serve the dumplings warm or cold, plain, with milk or cream, or with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Amazing Spices and Herbs You May Not Know

Here are some very interesting Spices you might like to get to know. I am always on the lookout for something new in the spice world, always wondering what new flavor might become invaluable. I probably have amassed more spices than most people on the planet have in one place, but I tell you, it has been a most wonderful journey!

GRAINS OF PARADISE 

or Melegueta Pepper, (Aframomum melegueta)

Grains of Paradise
Grains of Paradise

Grains of Paradise are a species in the ginger family and related to cardamom (not at all related to pepper). Sometimes known as Guinea Pepper or Melegueta Pepper, this spice has been out of vogue for a long time. In the 14th and 15th centuries, production of the spice was so important that the Gulf of Guinea coast became known as the Melegueta Coast. The ease of access to Europe made this spice a popular substitute for pepper from far away Asia.

Grains of Paradise are actually small reddish brown
pyramidal shaped seeds that are found in 2 – 3 inch long pods, whereas pepper comes from the berries of the pepper plant. The seeds have long been used as a stand in for pepper and are known to be less irritating for the digestion. In taste, these Grains have an inviting heat, though gentler than the harsher heat of pepper. There is an herbaceous and citrusy character with warm spicy undertones of cinnamon, cloves or cardamom, though the components that make up the flavor of cardamom are present only in traces. The pleasant heat lingers for a while on the finish.

Largely unknown these days in cooking outside of the West African Coast, some popular chefs have once again begun making Grains of Paradise a sought after spice. It is sometimes used in the spices flavoring Scandinavian Aquavit, as well as some popular beer. The intriguing flavors lend themselves to flavoring foods both sweet and savory. They are a great addition to a gingerbread or spice cake, with the gentle warmth. Grains of Paradise work well with other herbs such as rosemary and thyme, or lemon thyme to pick up the citrusy note. It can be used in most any place pepper is called for, though the flavor is not that of pepper.  They are generally an addition to the Moroccan Spice mixture called Ras el Hanout, loosely meaning "Best of the Shop"; great used as a spice rub for pork, beef, lamb or chicken before grilling, and adding into Moroccan tagines or other long braised stews. 


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GALANGAL, GALANGA

(Alpinia officinarum)
Dried Galangal Slices
Dried Galangal Slices

There is a greater galangal and a lesser galangal, and looks very much like ginger root. It is related to ginger, and is also a rhizome,
or underground stem, but there the similarity ends. It is sharper and hotter and more like mustard than ginger. It is one thing that gives Thai cooking some of its heat.
Used in most of the Asian cultures, Galangal grows in East and Southeast Asia, and also in the East Himalayas and South India. As there are various types of galangal, some countries use one variety and other countries another. China uses a different type of galangal than Thailand, for example. The Polish use galangal to flavor vodka and the Russians still use it to flavor vinegar and some liqueurs. The oil produced from galangal is common in India. A common Southeast Asian use for galangal is making a paste with the root along with shallots, garlic and chiles. This paste is used to flavor seafood or meat curries. 

Fresh Galangal root is of harder fiber than ginger and will require a sharp knife to cut. The inside is also much more creamy white than ginger. If using fresh galangal, find a young root, as they toughen with age. Pounding the root helps to release more of its flavors. Its strong flavors blend well with the use of coconut milk, such as in coconut based soups. If using fresh, uncooked root in a hot and sour salad for example, slice the root extremely thinly as it is intensely aromatic and pungent.

As fresh galangal is not available in many places, the alternative is the dried or powdered variety. Dried galangal (more accessible in the US) has a muskier and rootier flavor than the sharp bite of the fresh root. Once ground, it loses flavor easily, as with most ground spices. It is used in some Indian dishes, and sometimes in the spice mixture called Ras el Hanout from East Africa. If you find galangal, try it in Thai Red Curry Paste.

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MAHLAB

Mahleb, Mahalabi, Mahlepi, Mahiepi (Prunus mahaleb)

Outside of Turkey, the Middle East and Greece where it grows wild, Mahlab is little known. This spice is the inner kernel of the pit of the St. Lucie Cherry, Prunus mahaleb. The fruits are small, only up to about ⅜-inch in diameter, turning black when ripe.


Mahlab
Mahlab

The tiny inner kernel of Mahlab is an oval, 3/16 inch long, buff or tan colored with wrinkled skin and a creamy colored interior. The scent is a pleasant mix of sour cherries, bitter almonds and a hint of rose, lending most greatly to baked goods such as breads, cakes and cookies. Biting into a kernel raw will leave a bitter note, but once baked the flavors transform to fruity and rich, but subtle. A little can go a long way. Think of nutmeg when using Mahlab. A spare hand will yield excellent flavors, but it can make all the difference between a plain dessert and something uniquely alluring.

When using Mahlab, it should be ground just before use, as the flavors dissipate quickly once ground. It is easy to grind with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. If grinding by hand, use some of the sugar and or salt called for in the recipe, as the grains help with the grinding action on the seed kernels and yields a nice powder. To use, about ½ to 1 teaspoon per 2 cups of flour in a recipe is a good rule of thumb. Mahlab is a good addition to breads, sweet pastries, cookies and biscuits. It would also be a great way to transform simple pudding or rice pudding. The flavors lend themselves to milk based foods and cheese. 


As the spice is native to the Middle East, Turkey and Greece, most recipes that use mahlab are ones from these cultures. Sweet, rich egg doughs call for mahlab. Many recipes for Ma’moul on the internet do not call for mahlab, mainly because it is less known here in the States, but if you can find it, mahlab makes these authentic.

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CARDAMOM (Green)

(Elettaria cardamomum)

Green Cardamom
Green Cardamom
Cardamom is the third most expensive spice in the world, after saffron and vanilla, reaching Europe along the caravan routes. These days, outside of the Eastern and Middle Eastern countries where it is most known, the Scandinavian countries are the biggest importers of cardamom, using it to flavor their spiced cakes, pastries and breads.

There are different varieties of cardamom, although the smaller green cardamom, elettaria cardamomum, is the one being discussed here. There are other cardamom types, such as black cardamom which, while both are members of the ginger family, bear scant resemblance in flavor. Green cardamom is used for both sweet and savory cooking and baking, while black cardamom with its unique smoky quality, is used only for savory dishes and has developed a following all its own.

Native to India, green cardamom pods come from a perennial bush of the ginger family, growing wild in rain forests of southern India and Sri Lanka, though Guatemala is now the largest exporter of cardamom. The very best dried cardamom pods are pale greenish in color. Each paper-like pod holds approximately 12 to 20 dark brown or black highly aromatic seeds. It is best to buy either whole pods or whole seeds that have been removed from the pod. Once ground, it loses flavor too easily. Also, the pods themselves have little flavor and commercially, it is too easy to grind the whole pod together, thus lowering the price and the quality of the ground spice. Grinding the seeds is simple in a mortar and pestle or a small spice grinder, and one is assured of the quality of the product.

Many dishes in India call for whole, unbroken or only slightly crushed pods to be used. Anyone who has eaten Indian cuisine, or cooked Indian dishes, knows well how often cardamom is an ingredient. It is almost always used in a Garam Masala mixture, often seen as an ingredient in Northern Indian dishes such as rice Biryani

In addition to its use in savory dishes, green cardamom is used extensively in breads and sweets. Cardamom has a lovely flavor and aroma, quite penetrating and strongly aromatic. While it is one of the most expensive spices, very little is needed to impart flavor. An Indian dessert called Gulab Jamun uses the seeds ground in either the little balls of dough before frying, or in their syrup, or both. In northern European countries it is used in Stollen breads as well as many other cakes, pastries and cookies.

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STAR ANISE

Star Anise
Star Anise
(Illicum verum)

Star anise has been little used outside of its native Southern China and Vietnam. It has spread to wherever these cultures have gone, being taken along both to use and where possible, to grow. The shape of star anise is that of an irregular eight and sometimes up to twelve pointed star. In Chinese, the name means eight points. It is a very pretty and decorative spice, often used in crafts or floated in tea. The stars are the fruits and each point of the star is a pod holding one very shiny oval seed. The color of the pods is a deep rusty brown, and the shiny seeds a lighter caramel color. The brittle seeds are less aromatic than the fruit.

Star anise is the fruit of a small evergreen tree, Illicium verum. The fruits are picked while still unripe and then sun dried. Its flavor is anise like, though much more potent and with a heavier licorice flavor component than common anise seed, and with a distinctly sweet note. If using as a substitution for anise seed in a recipe, it is best to cut down the amount by a half to two thirds.

Star anise is a key ingredient in Chinese Five Spice Powder, below:

 

Five Spice Powder


1 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
8 inches of stick cinnamon or cassia
2 tablespoons fennel seed
10 whole star anise

Place all ingredients into a dry skillet over medium high heat and dry roast until fragrant. This releases the oils, making a more aromatic mixture. Put spices together into a small blender used only for spices and grind into a powder. Store in a cool place, in an air tight container.


Some suggestions for using Five Spice Powder are as a spice rub for fatty meats such as steaks, skirt steak, pork or duck. It can be mixed into a marinade. The flavors can be very strong, so start with a little and see how it goes with your taste. Add it to a stir fry, or to rice or anywhere you would like a real punch of flavor. It may be mixed with salt as a seasoning to be added at table. It can also be used in a spiced Chai. I have made a
wonderful recipe for Masala Chai Tea, with a few other spices.

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POPPY SEED

(Papaver somniferum)

Everyone knows that poppy seeds come from the opium poppy, Papaver
Black Poppy Seeds
Black Poppy Seeds
somniferum
. Opium comes from milking the unripe seed pods. Poppy seeds come from fully ripened pods, and while all parts of the plant can carry the opium alkaloids, the seeds contain an extremely low level of opiates and are safe for consumption. That said, be aware that if international travel or a drug test is on the horizon, one should avoid any foods with poppy seeds, as they can cause a false positive reading.

The opium poppy is native to the Middle East and has been known and used for nearly 5,000 years.
There are two main types of poppy seeds. Black poppy seeds, actually a slate blue in color, are most known as European, because they are the kind used most in western breads and pastries. White poppy seeds are known generally as Indian, Middle Eastern or Asian, as they are more often used in these cuisines. Both blue and white poppy seeds come from the same plant, though the white seeds come from a white flowering cultivar.

In the Western parts of the world, black/blue poppy seeds are used mainly in pastries and confections, although they are also added to noodles or pasta and vegetable dishes. They are best known sprinkled on breads or buns, in poppy seed cakes, and Danish pastries. Lemon poppy seed cakes and muffins are extremely popular and delicious. Poppy seeds and honey are a great combination. Hamantash, well-known Jewish pastries, are traditional during Purim. I had the great pleasure of tasting these cookie-like treats. White poppy seeds are most known in Indian and Asian cuisines, used ground as a thickener for curries and sauces. They are also used in some curry powder mixtures.

As my ethnic background is east central European, with my grandparents from Slovakia and what is now Serbia, I grew up enjoying poppy seed pastries. Most traditionally at Christmas time, my Slovakian grandmother made Slovak Rolls, a rich yeast dough rolled with a thick, sweet poppy seed filling. I have many fond memories of unrolling the pastry and eating small strips at a time, until reaching the center, where the filling was thickest. My Serbian grandmother made poppy seed strudel at any time of the year, but at Christmas she also made Bobalky. I have seen Bobalky described in many ways, but hers was made with small bread balls, soaked in water, with ground poppy seeds and honey added in. These two variations of poppy seed desserts have meant Christmas to me since my earliest years.



My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, helping pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Dishes Perfect for Fall

When Fall comes around, all the root type veggies are in full display. Sometimes, during Autumn, I begin to crave things that I did not have interest in, during the spring or summer. I am great with wanting beets at any time of year, but things like turnips or rutabaga? Not so much. 


Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips

Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips
Mashed Potatoes & Parsnips
Potatoes are always in evidence, but they are root vegetables, along with things such as parsnips. These two things are like a match made in heaven, and I make my mashed potatoes with up to half parsnips. Delish! I cook the vegetables (about 4 medium potatoes and one or two large parsnips) covered in water with about a tablespoon of Kosher salt. Then, with slotted spoon strain out the cooked potatoes and parsnips into a ricer, set over a bowl with 2 to 4 ounces of some kind of cheese (whether cream cheese, Boursin, Cheddar or other melting cheese) and some minced scallions and/or chives. The potatoes are riced straight atop the cheese mixture (which softens the cheese nicely for blending) and stirred in. I use some of the cooking water left in the pot to thin the potatoes to my taste.


Leeks are another great vegetable. I love leeks, but use them seldom. Yet there are just some recipes that taste great with leeks. Such as Potato Leek Soup.


Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup
Potato Leek Soup

Makes about six (1-cup) servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 leeks
2 - 3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon salt
a few grinds of white pepper
1 bay leaf
2 medium potatoes, peeled, cut in ½-inch dice
2 cups water
1½ cups milk, half & half or cream
 

Cut off the lightest part of the leeks, discarding the dark green tops. Cut off root ends and discard, and then slice down the center length of each leek. Hold the layers together with pone hand and fan the leek under running water to rinse out any mud or grit. Slice the leeks across the grain into about ½-inch slices. 

 Heat butter in a medium saucepan until melted and immediately add in the leeks. Cook them over medium to medium-high heat, stirring often, until they are relatively soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and toss to combine. Strip off the leaves of a few thyme sprigs and chop finely. Add to the pot and stir. Add in the salt, pepper, potatoes, bay leaf and water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for about 8 - 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. 

 Remove the bay leaf and pour the soup into a blender and process until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add in the milk (or half & half or cream, as desired) and heat before serving.

 NOTES: Stock may be used instead of water in the soup, although the salt will need to be adjusted. To make a pretty presentation, blend together 2 tablespoons of olive oil with another 2 - 3 teaspoons of fresh thyme leaves. Pass the oil through a very fine mesh sieve. Using a teaspoon, drizzle about ½ teaspoon of the oil in a circular pattern over the top.

VEGAN OPTIONAL: If a nut or seed milk substitution is made for the milk and a vegan butter substitute or oil for the butter, this recipe is easily made vegan.

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Every year, come Fall, I make a soup with a slew of root veggies, plus their greens. This has been a staple for a lot of years now, and uses carrots, parsnips, rutabaga and beets, though any other root vegetable will also be great in this soup as well. The best thing is the use of beet greens and either turnip greens, mustard greens or whichever greens are your preference. The use of red beets will color all the vegetables. If you want a cleaner look for the vegetables, consider using Chioggia beets or golden beets.


Root Vegetable & Greens Soup

Root Vegetable & Greens Soup
Root Vegetable & Greens Soup

Makes about 10 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, roughly chopped
4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 3 carrots. scrubbed, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 - 3 parsnips, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 - 3 medium beets, peeled, cut into ¼-inch dice
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
a few grinds of the pepper mill
6 - 8 cups beet greens, coarse-chopped in about 1-inch pieces
4 - 6 cups other greens, coarse chopped in about 1-inch pieces
 

Heat a large soup pot and add in the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden. Add in the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add in all the diced vegetables and the water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the soup for about 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add in the greens and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they are tender. 

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Sweet potatoes are available any time of year, but come Fall, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, they start to take a more center stage. I must confess: I rarely use mustard greens. They just aren't all that appetizing, to me, on their own in a dish, but with this particular combination, they are stellar. I feel positively virtuous when eating this side dish, and it could as easily be used as a main course for those who eschew meat.

Coconut Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens


Serves 6

2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, cut in half, then thinly sliced
Coconut Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens
Coconut Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 can coconut milk (I prefer Thai Kitchen)
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 cassia cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 cups sweet potato, peeled, in ½-inch cubes
4 - 5 cups mustard greens (about ¾ pound)
1 - 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and mustard seeds and saute for another 2 minutes. Add in the coconut milk, coriander, cinnamon stick and sweet potato. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until sweet potato begins to soften.

While sweet potato is cooking, wash the mustard greens and strip leaves off the stems. Discard the stems. Chop greens into bite-sized pieces. Stir in the mustard greens with the maple syrup and simmer, uncovered, over medium heat for approximately 15 minutes. The greens should be tender and the sweet potato soft. Adjust salt level; remove cinnamon stick. Just before serving, squeeze in some lime juice, or serve with a lime wedge.

NOTES: If sweet potato is not your favorite, other vegetables may be added or substituted, such as broccoli or cauliflower. Collard greens or spinach could be substituted for the mustard greens, though collards may take longer to cook properly.




My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, helping pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest

Thursday, September 26, 2019

A New Look at Some Old Favorites

I do not make dessert loaves too very often, but I do make them, and enjoy them. The oldest favorite of mine is Banana Bread, though as a child, Mom made hers with Bisquick®. I used Bisquick briefly when I first returned to the US back in the early 1980s, but after a 12 year hiatus, it just tastes too salty to me, so I do not use it. And now, everything is as "from scratch" as I can make it.

Of course if banana bread is good, then I had to tinker with it, and made Rhubarb Banana Bread. 😁

Then of course, when zucchini comes into season, and sometimes one ends up with a gigantic zucchini (my Dad was always so proud of his huge zucchini!), what can we do with it? Zucchini Bread, of course. I am not at all wild about zucchini, but it makes great Zucchini Bread, and then, as previously stated, I have to tinker. I just can never leave well enough alone. I guess ultimately that is a good thing, as it gives me the curiosity and ideas for new recipes. But thus was born Zucchini Tea Bread. 

All these are old recipes of mine, and aside from Banana Bread, I haven't made them in some time. So, I am revisiting these recipes, here.

Banana Bread 
Banana Bread
Banana Bread


Simple and delicious!

Makes one 4 x 8-inch loaf

¼ cup shortening
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
*¼ cup sweet milk + ¾ teaspoon baking powder OR
*¼ cup sour milk/buttermilk + ¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup nuts, ground 


Cream together the shortening and brown sugar, then add in the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add in the bananas and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder or baking soda (depending on which kind of milk used) and salt. Add in half the dry mixture, blending till combined, then the milk, and the rest of the flour. Add in the nuts and combine.
Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow it to rest 10 minutes before turning out of pan. 


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Rhubarb Banana Bread


Makes three (9 x 5-inch) loaves
Rhubarb Banana Bread
Rhubarb Banana Bread


3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups sour cream
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon pistachio flavor (or use all vanilla)
2 over ripe bananas, mashed lightly
5½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ of a whole nutmeg, grated
2 cups rhubarb, thinly sliced
1 cup shelled pistachios, or other nuts of choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 on Convection). Lightly grease or spray with cooking spray three (9 x 5-inch) loaf pans. Set aside.

In a mixer bowl beat together the brown sugar and melted butter. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, eggs, flavoring(s) and bananas; add to the mixer bowl and beat to combine. In another bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add these ingredients to the mixer on very low speed to just moisten, then increase speed to just combine. Add in the rhubarb and nuts and mix to combine.

Divide batter evenly between the three prepared pans. Batter will be quite thick. Spread evenly in pans, and then bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out fairly clean. Allow the loaves to rest in the pans for at least 10 minutes before removing from pans. If they stick, run a knife around the edges of the pans. Cool completely on racks.

NOTES: These loaves, as with most fruit and nut loaves, freeze well. Once cooled completely, wrap in foil or place into zip top bags to freeze.
 


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Zucchini Bread



Zucchini Bread
Zucchini Bread
Makes two 4 x 8 or 5 x 9-inch loaves
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
2 teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 - 3½ cups all-purpose four
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup raisins
½ - ¾ cup chopped nuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat together the eggs, sugars, oil, vanilla and zucchini. Sift or whisk together the cinnamon, salt, flour and baking powder. Stir into the zucchini mixture. Stir in the raisins and nuts.

Grease two loaf pans and divide batter between the pans. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

NOTES: I substituted melted butter for the oil one of the times I made this, and another time I used melted coconut oil. All of these come out great! The amounts for the raisins and nuts is fluid - you decide how much to use, or IF to use. My mother-in-law left that optional in her recipes, writing in only "Raisins" and/or "Nuts". I added in the amounts here that I used, as a guideline.
GLUTEN FREE: This recipe, as well as most dessert loaf recipes I have tried, can easily be made Gluten-Free! Substitute your preferred gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, and add in 1 - 2 teaspoons of xanthan gum to the rest of the dry ingredients.
Zucchini Tea Bread
Zucchini Tea Bread

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Zucchini Tea Bread


Makes 2 larger loaves or 3 smaller; 5 x 9-inch pans

1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sour cream
3 eggs
2 cups grated fresh zucchini
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
½ teaspoon lemon oil (such as Boyajian brand) or grated lemon zest, to taste
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Matcha Green Tea Powder, optional
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup raw, shelled hemp seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two or three loaf pans with cooking spray, then line them with parchment. Do not omit this step, as these loaves will stick to the pans. Set aside

Place the melted butter and sugars in a mixer bowl and beat to combine. Add in the sour cream and eggs and beat well. Add the zucchini, ginger and lemon oil or zest (extract could also be used) and beat. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, green tea powder, baking powder and salt, then add in to the wet ingredients on low speed to moisten, then on medium to combine completely. Add the nuts and hemp seeds, if using and mix well.

Divide the batter between the pans evenly and bake for 50 minutes for three pans, an hour or more for two pans, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to rest in pans for 8 to 10 minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.

NOTES: I was given a few yellow squash by a friend, and used one to make this same bread. I left out the green tea powder completely and used the grated zest of a whole lemon, instead of the lemon oil. The result was just fantastic - similar, but just that little bit different. Since yellow squash are as available as the zucchini, this is just another way to use them, when they are in abundance.


My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, helping pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest.  

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