just plain banana bread


I’ve been playing around with my favorite recipe for banana bread. I like this recipe because it’s not over-sweet. I’ve added dried cranberries to it and sprinkled toasted almonds and demerara sugar on top. It’s a sturdy recipe. What I changed up this time was instead of shortening I used a third cup of rice bran oil.  The result was a banana bread with a tender moist crumb.

Banana Bread

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup rice bran oil or vegetable oil
2/3 cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 medium bananas)

Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease one 8.5×4.5 loaf pan.

Sift together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

Cream the oil and sugar. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well-blended. Add one-third of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Add half the mashed ripe banana and beat until just moistened. Add half of the remaining flour and beat until just combined. Add the rest of the mashed ripe banana and beat until just moistened. Add the rest of the flour and beat until just combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth the top. Tap pan lightly on the counter to dislodge any air bubbles. Bake 50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

Cool banana bread 10 minutes in the pan. Then unmold onto a wire rack and cool completely.



fried water


I love the name of this recipe! But it’s nothing more exotic than onion egg drop soup. The onion flavor is subtle rather than harsh, and the soup is surprisingly satisfying.  It’s a simple soup that’s good for when unexpected company drops in as it cooks up in less than 20 minutes. Instead of stale bread I used homemade whole wheat croutons.

Fried Water (Adapted from Kate Winslow and Guy Ambrosino)
4 medium onions
1/3 cup olive oil
4 large eggs
5 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
8 slices stale French bread
Parsley or cilantro for garnish


Slice onions into rings. Heat olive oil gently in a medium pot and fry onions about 5-7 minutes or until they look shiny and translucent. Carefully add water and simmer until the onions become soft and silky, about 10 minutes.

Beat the eggs with a teaspoon of salt. Turn off the heat under the soup. Slowly drizzle the egg into the soup, stirring with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, set out 4 shallow soup bowls and lay two slices of stale French bread in each. Ladle the fried water over the bread. Garnish with parsley/cilantro. Serve at once.

Strawberry Season: no pectin strawberry preserves


It’s the tail-end of the cool dry season, which means strawberries are in season in Thailand. I bought 4 pounds from a farmer’s truck to make strawberry preserves. This version, adapted from The Kitchn does not use pectin. You use lemon juice and lemon rind as a source of pectin to jell the preserves. It will not be as thick as with pectin, so its consistency tends to be thinner. This recipe uses less sugar so you will have a product that is tart and lightly sweet.

4 pounds strawberries, washed, hulled, and quartered
9 cups granulated sugar
3 lemons, juiced, save the lemon halves trimming the stem ends

Put 4 metal tablespoons in the freezer. Fill 6 8-oz jars with hot water and cover the lids with hot water in a separate bowl. Set aside.

In a large pot, combine the strawberries with sugar and lemon juice. Mash lightly with a potato masher. Add the lemon halves. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half. Test the preserves to see if they have set. Remove a spoon from the freezer and dribble some of the strawberry liquid on it. Run your finger through the juice, if it leaves a trail, it is set. If not, continue cooking for another 20 minutes. It took 60 minutes to make this batch.

Throw off the hot water in the jars and carefully fill empty jars with the preserves leaving 1 inch head-space. Cover and let cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator

Eat within 3 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.

Aunt Gloria’s Tourtiere


I got this recipe from my sister. She serves it at Christmas, and so I thought I would try a Canadian Christmas tradition this year. The tourtiere or meat pie came out full of flavor with a flaky crust although a bit dry. I was afraid the water that sprang with the  cooking of the meat would make the crust soggy so I poured it off. I should have left it in because the potato would have absorbed the liquid. I also added 2 teaspoons of President’s Choice Four Peppercorns to the meat mixture. Joyeux noel.

Classic Canadian Tourtière
For Tourtiere
1 large potato or 2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 slices bacon, chopped (thick cut bacon in original recipe)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms, optional
¼ cup dry white wine (I used brandy)
1 1b each ground pork and veal (I used 1 kg ground pork tenderloin)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper (I added 2 teaspoons Four-Peppercorns)
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves (can substitute allspice)
All-purpose savory pie dough (recipe after this one)
1 egg yolk

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cook potato until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to saucepan, mash and set aside.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, fry bacon over medium-high heat until softened. Add onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms, cook until almost no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until almost no liquid remains.

Stir in pork and veal, if using; cook, breaking up with spoon, until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. There will be some liquid in the bottom. Don’t discard.

Add salt, pepper, cinnamon and cloves; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add potato; cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

For Savoury Pie Dough
Makes enough for 1 double-crust 9-inch pie
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed (when I don’t have unsalted butter, I use salted butter and cut the salt in half)
1/3 cup cold lard, cubed (I use vegetable shortening instead)
1/3 cup cold water (approximate)

In bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and lard until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Add water 1-2 tablespoons at a time, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms and adding up to 1 tbsp more water if necessary.

Divide in half, shape into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of the dough to 13-inch circle. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Fill with meat mixture, mounding it in the center. Trim dough even with rim; brush rim with water.

Roll out remaining dough into 12-inch circle. Fit over filling, pressing edge to seal. Trim to leave ½-inch overhang; tuck under bottom pastry and flute. Cut steam vent in top.
If desired, roll out pastry scraps and cut out festive shapes. Whisk egg yolk with 1 tbsp water; brush over pastry. Press shapes onto pastry; brush with egg wash.

Bake in bottom third of 425 degree Fahrenheit/225˚C oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200˚C; bake until steaming and pastry is golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with A1 steak sauce.


broccoli-shrimp fritters


Broccoli-Shrimp Fritters

Yield: 14 three-inch fritters

8 ounces fresh broccoli (3 cups chopped)
500g large shrimp, chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large tomato, chopped and seeded
2/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (or mix 1/3 Parmesan and 1/3 romano cheeses)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes OR
2 Scotch Bonnet peppers, finely chopped, with seeds for added heat or without seeds for less
1/4 cup cream or nonfat milk, or less as needed to add cohesion to the batter
Cooking spray

To prepare the broccoli, cut the florets from the stems. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the tough outer coating of the stems. Chop stems roughly into 1/2 inch pieces. Separate the florets into 1 inch pieces.

Fill a large pot with about 3 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt to the water. Add the broccoli. Cook 5-6 minutes or until tender. The broccoli will be a bright green color. Drain the broccoli in a colander and rinse under cold water to set the color and stop the cooking process. Mash the cooked broccoli coarsely with a potato masher. Broccoli should still be chunky and not too small.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the flour, tomato, cheese(s), garlic, salt, black pepper, and pepper flakes, if using. Add the mashed broccoli and shrimp. Use a large wooden spoon to mix all the ingredients together. Add the cream or milk if the batter doesn’t clump together when dropped from the spoon.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Heat the skillet on medium heat until the pan sizzles when a drop of water is sprinkled in it. Using a tablespoon or a cookie scoop, scoop up the broccoli batter and plop it in the hot skillet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Continue scooping, flattening, and frying fritters with cooking spray to fill the pan. Leave about 2 inches between each fritter. Fry on one side 3-5 minutes or until golden brown, then flip, and fry 3-5 minutes on the second side.

Transfer fritters to a serving plate. If the fritters won’t be eaten right away, they can be kept in a low oven. Serve these fritters with Sriracha sauce, if desired.

chocolate chip cookies

DSC06285 2.jpg

When we lived in Milwaukee in the 80s this recipe was printed in the Milwaukee Journal. This was before the internet so instead of copying and pasting the recipe, I clipped it from the newspaper. It’s been in my recipe collection ever since. This cookie is chewy and soft, just the way I like it.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Milwaukee Journal

1 cup or 16 tablespoons shortening (or 1/2 unsalted butter, 1/2 shortening), room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar, sifted to get out the lumps
1 cup white sugar (substitute 1/2 cup Domino Light sugar)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 pkg (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375˚F

2. Let butter/shortening soften at room temperature. In a bowl put shortening with butter, if using, add sugar and cream until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix thoroughly. Add chocolate chips by hand.

4. Scoop dough in a cookie scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet. Set each cookie dough ball 2 inches apart. Bake at 375˚ for 8-10 minutes or until done. Cookies are done when touched in the center and your finger barely leaves an imprint. Cool cookies on a wire rack before stacking.


ina garten’s flourless gluten free chocolate cassis cake, 2.0


With each iteration, I’ve gotten better at making this cake. Here is the recipe again with my Cake Baker’s Notes for success, from being careful not to overmix the batter to making sure the finished cake doesn’t sink in the center as it cools. I adapted it from Ina Garten’s recipe by using a cassis syrup instead of crème de cassis liqueur. I recommend using cocoa powder instead of flour to dust the pan to not only make it gluten free but also to prevent the white streaks that dusting with flour leaves behind. It may look fussy but it’s not. It’s a very rich chocolate cake with a fudgy interior and a simple ganache on top. How easy is that?

Chocolate Cassis Cake (adapted from Ina Garten)
Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 35-40 minutes

For the Cake:
170g plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter for greasing pan, room temperature
284g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup cocoa powder plus extra for dusting pan
6 tablespoons cassis syrup (can substitute creme de cassis)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs, room temperature (extra large eggs in original recipe)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
170g unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
2-3 tablespoons cassis syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the cake, Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper then butter it. Dust with cocoa powder. Tap out the excess powder.

Melt the 170g butter and chopped chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cocoa powder, cassis, and 1 teaspoon vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer), beat the eggs, sugar, and salt on high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until pale yellow, thickened, and triple in volume. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and carefully but thoroughly fold them together with a silicone spatula.

Cake Baker’s Note: Be sure to drag the spatula along the bottom of the bowl to blend the heavier chocolate mixture with the lighter egg mixture. Don’t overmix or the egg mixture will deflate.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until just barely set in the center. Place on a wire cooling rack and using a thin blade, ease it around the sides of the cake to release it from the pan sides so it doesn’t sink in the center. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes and then release the sides of the pan. Invert the cake carefully onto a flat serving plate, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.

Cake Baker’s Note: At 35 minutes, the entire cake didn’t seem set. So I gave it 5 more minutes. The cake was level with the top of the pan when it came out of the oven. After 15 minutes, the volume fell 50% as it cooled. In my experience, this is normal for flourless cakes.

For the glaze, melt the chocolate and cream together in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat, then whisk in the cassis and vanilla. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and spread just over the top of the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Let the topping set as it cools.

Serving Suggestion

  • Whip 1 cup whipping cream with 2 tablespoons sugar and serve a dollop with a wedge of cake.
  • Add sliced fresh berries on top of the cake. Glaze berries with melted apricot jam.
  • Serve with a strawberry coulis. About 1 cup crushed strawberries with juice, 1/4 cup water, and cornstarch to thicken, will make a divine strawberry coulis. Spoon it on the side and scoop it up with some cake.


lentil shepherd’s pie


Andy and I are making the transition to a vegetarian diet, a lacto-ovarian vegetarian diet. So I made this recipe using cow’s milk instead of a non-dairy milk. I also lightened the salt by using just 2 tablespoons soy sauce. The pie came out hearty and filling, with just the right amount of seasoning. This recipe is definitely a keeper.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie (adapted from Melanie McDonald)

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 ½ teaspoons dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, marjoram or mixed herbs or Italian herbs)
190 g or 2 1/2 cups cooked lentils, green or brown*
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
240 ml or 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
240 ml or 1 cup mushroom broth or vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste
1000 g or 6 cups diced raw potato
80 ml or 1/3 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened
1-2 tablespoons vegan butter, optional

Preheat oven 400˚F/200˚C. Boil water in a large pot. Prepare a 9 inch deep-dish pie dish by spraying the inside with cooking spray. Set aside.

Put the diced potatoes in the pot of boiling water. Add a generous pinch of salt, cover and bring to the boil again. Simmer 15 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender.

Drain then return to the pan. Add milk and butter if using, and mash very well. Set aside.

While potatoes are cooking, warm another pan over medium heat.

Sauté onions, garlic, and carrot until the onions start to go golden brown. You can use oil to sauté or a teaspoon or two of vegetable stock. Add the dried herbs and cooked and drained lentils. Make a slurry out of water and cornstarch, and add it to the pot. Stir well to distribute the cornstarch mixture. Add the tamari or soy sauce and tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the stock and stir well. As soon as the mixture is hot and is starting to bubble, remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the lentil mixture into the dish. Top with mashed potato. Spread the potato evenly on top, one spoonful at a time, and drag a fork through the top to create a pattern. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. If additional browning is desired, put the dish under the broiler until the top is golden brown. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

*To cook lentils:
3 cups water
1 cup lentils
Using a large Dutch pot, bring lentils and water to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Yields 2-2 1/2 cups cooked lentils.

no measure chocolate cake

When it comes to baking cakes I am a fanatic. Every ingredient must be measured or weighed. But sometimes you want a quick cake, a cake that requires no fuss and bakes up in a heartbeat, so that you can sit down and enjoy it right away. I was tempted by this recipe on Food 52 and it was quirky; no measuring, just a yogurt container. I had to bite down hard to ignore my OCD to try it. After cooling, problems came up; the cake fell about 25%. However, the texture is moist and dense, quite like a brownie, and not as sweet.

No Measure Chocolate Cake

2 tablespoons butter and 1-1 1/2 tablespoons flour for prepping the pan
7 oz (200g) Greek style yogurt
1 container canola oil (I used rice bran oil)
1 container superfine sugar
2 large eggs
2 containers self-rising flour
1 container unsweetened cocoa powder
1 container coffee or warm water
pinch of salt
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven 350˚F/175˚C. Melt butter and add 1 tablespoon flour. The mixture should be thick but not dry so add a little more up to 1/2 tablespoon more. Brush on the inside and base of a 10″ springform pan. Line with bottom with parchment then brush some more butter mixture on the parchment. Set aside.

Baker’s Note: I used 3 5×3 inch pans filled halfway, and baked the cakes for 30 minutes.

Empty the yogurt container in a large mixing bowl. Using the yogurt container, measure the oil and add it to the yogurt, followed by the sugar. Add 2 eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until smooth.

Add 2 containers-ful of flour and 1 container cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until no lumps remain. Slowly add the coffee or warm water. Add a pinch of salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Pour into prepared 10 inch pan and bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks. Unmold and remove the paper. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top when cooled. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or ice cream.

ground pork curry noodles


This is an easy weeknight dinner dish that cooks up in less than half an hour. I used to make it years ago for Andy and the kids, and I was reminded of it when we were at the Cheesecake House last weekend, and I ordered it for dinner. Its curry flavor can be mild or pungent, depending on how you like it, but the important thing is not to cook the lettuce but to heat it through at the last minute.

Ground Pork Curry Noodles

220 g organic dried rice noodles
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or rice bran oil
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
4 cloves garlic, minced
350 g lean ground pork
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
Nam pla (fish sauce) to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste
1/2 tablespoon Knorr chicken soup powder
1/2 cup water
cornstarch, optional
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped

Boil a large pot of water and let it simmer.

In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Cook the onion until it is wilted. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until no longer pink. Mix in the curry powder, nam pla, and pepper to taste. Put in the soup powder and water. If desired, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and add the chopped lettuce, toss to combine.

Cook the noodles in the simmering water about 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss with a little bit of oil so that the noodles don’t stick together.

Serve the ground pork sauce over the hot noodles. Eat at once.