As I was typing the title to this post all I could think about was that damn catchy Gwen Stefani song, “this sh*t is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s” and now it’s going to stick with me all day long. Kind of like this AWESOME Banana Bread with Chocolate Glaze from Cooking Light.
I’m amazed that I’ve never made this as it’s been a heavy reader and staff favorite for 17 years. 17 years ago it made its debut and is still going strong. Most marriages don’t last that long! All I know is that I will be making it for 17+ years myself because not only was it about the quickest bread I’ve ever put together, it’s insanely delicious and moist…hold on, I’m grabbing another slice…my goodness, this is so good. If you have ripe bananas, I highly recommend making this right now. I think this is one dish I will always have in my house for the entire fall season! Happy first day of fall!
So, I know some of you readers out there really don’t like Gwyneth Paltrow. If you are one of them, might I suggest the next post below? If you are on the fence about her, like me, you should keep reading. While I do think she can be a bit shallow in her approach (what, you DON’T have an outside pizza oven?), I do like her simple and healthy methodology about cooking, and come on guys, she can be gentle? I do think however, if her and Ina Garten got together in one place the world would spontaneously combust with their “holier than thouness” of it all (if you don’t have ground unicorn horn fresh from your own personal unicorn collection in your back yard in the Hamptons…table salt, I guess, will do…). For more laughs, check out Eater.com’s favorite lines from the Gwyneth’s new cookbook, It’s All Good; I’ll admit, I stifled a giggle while reading.
But seriously, this is about the It’s All Good cookbook and testing and tasting the dishes. I have to say, it really is good! The recipes are simple and direct. A few of the ingredients had me scratching my head and scouring Whole Foods and Central Market – such as xylitol, what? But overall, it’s a great little cookbook. The dishes are flavorful, healthy and David and I agree that you don’t feel like you are “missing” anything by eating this way.
The book has received a bit of flack about her non-recipe recipes such as boiling an egg or her Avocado Toast, which is merely spreading Veganaise, ripe avocado and salt on a piece of toast. I’ve got to defend her here. When I think of my Mom’s delicious Southern cooking, the one thing I’ve noticed is it’s pretty simple ingredients but done with a very specific technique, or three simple little things put together that maybe you hadn’t thought of. Don’t knock technique or simple combinations y’all, otherwise, my mom’s calling of frozen okra, corn meal and salt wouldn’t turn into the most amazing fried okra you’ve ever had (the secret is getting it just golden enough and pulling it off the heat at the right time, I think I’ve mastered it these days but it took me YEARS to get it down).
I can’t share the recipes here, so go out and grab a copy, and check out a sneak peek here at Self.com. A few of my favorites so far are: Salmon with Lee’s Sriracha and Lime (yes, you make your own sriracha…yes, you will kick butt at it); New York Street Vendor Salad with Yogurt-Tahini Dressing; Crazy Good Fish Tacos (the sauce on this one is, well, all good and then some); Chinese Chicken Salad; Power Chopped Salad with Parsley Dressing (I served this at a dinner party and got rave reviews); Lee’s Chopped Vietnamese Salad; Grilled Duck with Lee’s Hoisin Sauce (see sriracha note above…easy breezy…you will kick butt!).
There are times in the Cooking Inside the Lines kitchen (and more than I would like to admit) that some recipes are just missing the certain something; that, you just can’t put your finger on it “thing” that would make it really sing. The je ne sais quoi if you will? Oui, oui! This circumstance happened last night when a friend brought over a red wine sauce and we were both turning our heads in thought as to what the heck it needed.
When I’m making dinner, I’ll stop and ask David to try a sauce or a dressing and we always equate it to having a “hole” in the middle. The brightness might be there in the beginning and the nice spice kick might be there at the end, but there’s nothing really in the middle to make it totally palatable. Through all of these years – yes, years! – of doing this, I noticed I turn to a few things to help save a sauce or dressing. Like a culinary ER doctor, I try to find out what’s causing the damage and then, save the dish. Here are my go-tos when something is amiss in the kitchen. You can try one or a combo of them to see if they might work for you:
Low-sodium chicken broth: this is usually for sauces with a wine base. Sometimes, after you burn off the alcohol, the flavor just isn’t there. I usually add a cup of broth, let it simmer and then bam, you have a low-fat and low-sodium but flavorful sauce.
Tomato paste: If chicken broth hasn’t saved your sauce above, or, that marinara just doesn’t have the oomph you are looking for, it probably needs more acidity. Try adding tomato paste and see if it gives it the kick you are looking for.
Honey or sugar: I know sugar is no-no to some of you, but sometimes, you have to have a little bit of sweet to balance out the flavors. I’m not talking about a cup, I’m saying a 1/2 teaspoon. I use honey or agave or sometimes sugar to save sauces of all kinds and add roundness to dressings.
Salt: Now go in reverse from the point above. when you are doing something sweet and it just seems to be missing something, trying adding an 1/8 of a teaspoon of sea salt or kosher salt. I promise it will make a huge difference.
Fresh herbs: When all else fails, there is nothing like fresh herbs to add freshness and zing to a sauce or dressing. It’s unbelievable what fresh herbs can do and it’s virtually zero calories to boot!
Red Pepper Flakes: This is a big go-to dish saver here. Sometimes all a dish needs is a hint of spice to make the sweetness and acidity play nicely together. Just a dash always does it for me.
Cumin: Oddly, I use this in dressings most of the time when I find it’s off balance and I’ve applied honey and herbs to try and make it better. Cumin has a smokey undertone that sometimes is just what the doctored ordered to round out the flavors subtly.
Cinnamon: This is a great little spice that people always ask, “what is that in there that makes it taste so good?” a little bit of spice and a little bit of that “you can’t put your finger on it flavor” is what makes cinnamon so special in my book. This is great in marinaras, cheese sauces and even broth-based sauces. A little goes a long way, so just pinch you guys!
Welcome to a new series of posts that feature recipes I’ve tried in the past but this time, we retest for accuracy and awesomeness but my adorable hubs, David. David likes to claim he doesn’t know his way around the kitchen as well as I do, but let me tell you, he most certainly does. I call him the egg, seafood and sandwich whisperer. He makes absolutely hands-down perfect over-easy eggs, knows exactly when to pull fish off the heat just by looking at it and always makes the most perfectly balanced ratio of meat/lettuce/bread/sauce on a sandwich. He’s definitely got the chops in the kitchen and I know he follows these recipes to letter just like I do. So, let’s see how he did!
Usually while I cook, David and Lila are off climbing Mount Pillow in our bedroom or conquering the downstairs toy chest, but last night, David made this Scallops with Green Tea Cream from Cooking Light while I fed the munchkin. P.S. we just got her a highchair, and the OXO Sprout is an incredible product – we highly recommend it.
David followed this recipe to the letter and once again it turned out perfect (yes, we did the same measurements but just treated it as an entree). That sauce seriously I could smother on anything and it would taste good. Yum, yum, yum. Seeking out green tea powder is worth it for this dish alone. If you haven’t tried this yet, what are you waiting for?