Banana “ice cream”

January 19, 2010

Have you tried The Kitchn’s banana “ice cream” recipe?  You know, the one where frozen bananas are supposed to magically morph into creamy perfection?  I had been meaning to give it  a shot for a while, and was finally propelled into action when faced with three sad frozen bananas during our empty-the-freezer-for-Mr.-Repairman process the other night.

It really is as simple as it sounds: you blend frozen bananas.  And, it’s rather decent.  I mean, it tastes just like you imagine it would: cold, fluffy ‘nanas that you can effortlessly tackle even if you accidentally leave your dentures upstairs by the sink.

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Vosges

December 26, 2009


Is it possible to resist a recipe that contains the line “beat the living crap out of it”?  If you are me, it most certainly is not.  So, reader Carrie, you had me at “crap” when you answered my cookie plea with your Funfetti recipe a couple of weeks ago.

But wait…  What was this Funfetti thing that I was supposed to purchase and beat into submission?  It sounded intriguing and entirely inedible.  This was clearly going to involve a trip to The Big Grocery Store, which I usually skip in favor of  shops where I can find mysterious animal parts, Buddah’s hands, and partially Americanized folk just like me.

And so I ventured  into The Big Grocery Store and found Funfetti (holiday version, even!).  But then I realized that I hadn’t brought Carrie’s recipe and had no idea what else I needed; oops.  So, I got some eggs (that’s what the Funfetti box suggested, both in writing and in pictures) and assumed I would be more or less set.

Wrong.  Apparently, I was supposed to get Cool Whip.   But I plowed on, figuring that the Funfetti mix would be difficult to offend (it looked so resilient! like something that would survive a nuclear holocaust).  And indeed, the substitutions that follow turned out to be just fine.

Funfetti cookies

  • 1 box Funfetti mix (set sprinkles aside)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup oil
  1. Combine everything and–you knew this was coming!–beat the living crap out of it.  (I sure hope you have a free-standing mixer, because you will essentially be handling wet cement.)
  2. Place teaspoon-sized drops onto a greased cookie sheet and drop some sprinkles onto each.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 375F.

Disclaimer: I did not contribute a single shred of creativity to this recipe.  (But, I did learn what Funfetti is.  And I made some tasty, tasty cookies.)

This was my weekend to tackle the cookie project.  You know: a south-European atheist, baking for the winter holidays?…  Yeah, there’s no cookbook for that.

I asked around.  I looked at pictures.  I googled and googled holiday cookies until I became cross-eyed, coming up with one artery-clogging, besprinkled interpretation after another.

But, reader, I was not feeling it.

Then I went to Fresh Market and just stood there, waiting for the muse to arrive.  …Turns out she had been  hiding in a bin of hazelnuts the entire time!

Hazelnut + chocolate + black lava salt cookies

  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
  • a pinch of black lava salt (optional, but oh-so-good)
  1. Mix sugar and butter.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Add flour, salt, baking powder.
  4. Toss in hazelnuts and chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough in little dollops onto a greased baking sheet.  Add a couple of grains of black salt to the top of each.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes at 375F.

So!  Our cookies are ready to go to friends and family… with the exception of the one the cat licked, and the six that Mr. Onepot ate while pretending to busy himself with some very important kitchen business.

Cookies: Why? How? Help!

December 3, 2009

Here’s a confession: when it comes to cookies, I am a complete idiot.  Where to even start?

First, there’s the why.  Sure, I’ve made chocolate chip cookies before… and they were just fine.  But, while I love both dough and chocolate, I can’t think of a very compelling reason to dirty many a bowl in order to combine them into a dessert when I could, for instance, just eat some chocolate straight.  I mean, look:

No improvement needed, right?  And chocolate is just one example, since this applies to so many other traditional cookie components.

And then there’s the butter thing.  I look at cookie recipes every once in a while and think, “Ooh!  Let’s make that!” … only to have my enthusiasm crash with a loud thud as soon as I see the amount of butter involved.  The mere thought of a whole cup of butter folded into, say, some luscious shortbread instantly causes me to envision Mr. Onepot clutching his chest and keeling over from a heart attack at the age of 40.

[Now, don’t get me wrong: we ADORE butter.  And we’re no health nuts (remember, just yesterday I told you how I will spend the coming winter in the me-shaped dent on the sofa?).  It’s just that I’d prefer not to tuckpoint my husband’s insides with cupfuls of dairy fat, lest I should end up a butter widow.]

So, please help!  What am I missing?  Surely there are some delightful, un-fussy, un-deadly cookies that I could be making right now if I only knew they existed?

Three-rice pudding

November 28, 2009

Remember how the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” kept Hansel in a cage and fed and fed and fed him to fatten him up?  (Oh wait–is this another one of those stories that has a gentler American version?)  Well, I’ve spent the last week feeling a bit like Hansel.  First there were the four days in New Orleans, each of which typically started with something like this:

and ended with something like this:

with a bit of something like this in between:

And then we returned home to not one but TWO back-to-back Thanksgiving dinners:


Turns out, even a scrawny woman with a pro-wrestler’s appetite needs to rest after a multi-day food marathon like that.  And you know what’s a restful, soothing, straight-back-to childhood dish that really hits the spot at a time like this?…

Three-rice pudding

  • 1.5 cup rice (combination of wild, brown basmati, arborio… or whatever you have)
  • 3.5 cups milk (skim, in our case, since that’s what we had–but how could additional fat here not be tasty?)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • a splash of vanilla
  • a dash of cinnamon
  1. Combine everything and bring to a boil.
  2. Turn the heat down and simmer on low until soft.

(If you’re using a pressure cooker–which is just perfect for this, because you don’t have to worry about the milk boiling over and making a mess all over your stove–wait until you hear the whistle.  Once you’ve turned down the heat, 15 minutes in the pressure cooker should do the trick; it will take more like 25+, and some intermittent stirring, in a regular pot.)

This is a fabulous starting point.  From here, you may decide that you want to add more sugar, or honey, or some powdered chocolate…

Best enjoyed curled up on a sofa with one husband, two cats, and three episodes of Mad Men.


Apple crisp

November 15, 2009

IMG_4435

The following were my sources of inspiration for this scrumptious bit of fall in a bowl:

  1. Last Saturday, mid-morningish, my husband staggered into the kitchen– squinting and yawning and scratching his chest–to ask, “What are you cooking?”  “Nothing,” I said; the extent of my culinary prowess up to that point had involved starting a pot of coffee.  And then I got it.  Our home did smell mindbogglingly of apples and vanilla! …but only because I had just plugged in a Method air freshener.  While I was pretty darn pleased that cheating made my home smell like I had just made something delicious, I did feel a little twinge of guilt for shattering Mr. Onepot’s morning enthusiasm, that most fragile of things.
  2. This Saturday morning, this motley crew stared at me woefully as I sipped my coffee, as if to say, “We know you’re going out of town later in the week and there’s no way we’re all going to get eaten by then.”  They know me so well.IMG_4425
  3. Our dustbunnies had morphed into dustbears, and the most solid excuse I could come up with for ignoring them involved apples and oatmeal and cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Smitten Kitchen offered this idea some weeks back, and I was instantly onboard.  But then, you know, I don’t plan.  While our kitchen is well-stocked, it’s well stocked according to moi (capers! fillo dough! chutney!); that means that there’s no shredded coconut, for instance, at any given point in time.  Almonds?  Ditto.  This also gives you some insight into the main reason why I can’t follow recipes: I typically decide to make something at the very last minute, once it’s dark out and I’ve had a glass of wine and no one is about to go out again.  Or, it’s Saturday morning and I’m squinting and yawning and scratching my chest in my jammies.  So, you know, I wing it.  A lot.

This particular version of winging it goes something like this:

  • 5-6 apples (see picture above to get a rough idea of just how much room for experimentation you have here)
  • juice of a 1/2 small lemon
  • dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 3 tsp honey
  • 1 + 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup flour
  1. Cut up the apples into any kind of slices; coat them with lemon juice, brown sugar, spices.
  2. In a small pan, heat the butter and honey until combined.  (Thanks, Smitten Kitchen!  Turns out it’s honey that my crisps have been missing all this time.)  Add flour and oats; stir to combine.
  3. Spread the apples in a baking dish and cover with the crisp mixture.  Bake on 400F for ~45 minutes; check the crisp around that time to see if the apples are blissfully gooey or need another 5-10 minutes.

Ta-da!  Edible air freshener.