just plain banana bread

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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.

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fried water

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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

Method:

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

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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.