banana-coconut bread

DSC03474Today we ate lunch at Miyazaki, a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant in Seacon Square, where the meal is cooked hot and fresh in front of you on a griddle. There are two cooks for each customer: one to cook the vegetables the other to cook the meat. Each new order is announced by the cook, and that announcement is greeted with a loud chorus of “Hai!” Amen. Yes. The precision of lunch was quirky and earnestly militaristic,  but the meal still managed to be delicious. And reasonably so. Less than Baht 600 (about US$19.00) for two.

The nice thing about Bangkok is we have no shortage of food to please every foodie’s palate. Soi Thong Lo is our equivalent of Restaurant Row in New York (46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues). Thong Lo offers Korean, Japanese, Australian (burgers and steaks), Mexican, Chinese, American, and Thai food from Sukhumvit to Petchburi.

The rainy season is previewing in Bangkok. We have started to get the odd shower, which cools the heat to a dull steam that threatens to overwhelm the senses and makes everyone retreat to the coolness of air conditioned malls and restaurants. Before the heat had reached its apogee I bought some young coconut jelly in coconut juice at the market outside Suan Luang. I decided to tinker with a sturdy favorite, Banana Tea Bread, and came up with this Banana-Coconut Bread. It has a crunchy coating because of the turbinado sugar baked on top, and the coconut is chewy; it held its texture and flavor. I doubled the recipe to give me 4 mini-loaves. I gave away two to my sisters-in-law, and I will leave one in Bangkok for Andy and take the other with me to Salaya.


Banana-Coconut Bread
Here I have given the measurements for 1 loaf of banana-coconut bread. I doubled the recipe to make four mini-loaves.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup chopped fresh young coconut jelly
1 teaspoon rum, vanilla, or coconut extract
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar or 1/3 cup superfine sugar and 1/3 cup sifted brown sugar
2 large eggs

1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar (I used turbinado)
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

Heat the oven to 350˚F. Spray the inside of 2×7 inch mini loaf pans or 1×8″1/2 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, put the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Stir with a whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, mash the banana. Add the chopped coconut jelly, and the extract. Blend well.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine. Add half the banana mixture. Add half of the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Add the remaining banana mixture and combine. Add the remaining flour. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans. Tap the pan(s) gently on the counter-top to eliminate any air bubbles. Sprinkle the top of the loaf/loaves with the demerara or turbinado sugar. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.

Bake 40 minutes or until golden brown or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven to wire cooling racks. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan before unmolding. Run a knife blade around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread. Gently remove from the pan. Cool thoroughly. Serve warm or at room temperature.



roast chicken with vegetables and quinoa pudding

Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprouts, and Carrots

This was amazingly easy to make and so good for you! Another recipe from the America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy cookbook, it is light, the chicken is juicy, and the vegetables are crisp-tender. Since I like food that snaps with spice, I found this dish to be rather bland. So. Fair warning to those whose palates are decidedly more adventuresome.

4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on, trimmed of extra fat
Salt and pepper
1 pound carrots (I used baby carrots)
10 ounces Brussels sprouts
1 butternut squash (about 2 cups), peeled, seeded, cubed
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 shallots, peeled and quartered (didn’t have any; left these out)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth, if needed (or water)
Lemon wedges for serving (didn’t have any; used lemon pepper)

Seasoning I added:
Mrs. Dash Italian Medley seasoning, optional
Garlic powder, optional

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450˚F
2. Toss the Brussels sprouts, carrots, butternut squash, shallots, garlic, oil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in a bowl. Spread the vegetables in a 13×9 inch baking dish and roast for 15 minutes.
3. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. [I sprinkled Mrs. Dash and garlic powder here.] Lay the chicken, skin side up, on a wire rack. Carefully place the wire rack over the dish of partially cooked vegetables (the rack may overhang the dish slightly). Roast until the chicken registers 160 to 165˚F on an instant-read thermometer, 30-35 minutes. Note: If after 30 minutes the chicken registers 155, I would take it out and move on to step 4. On resting, the chicken’s internal temperature will continue to rise.
4. Transfer the chicken to a platter then remove and discard the skin. Tent the chicken loosely with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. If the vegetables are not yet tender, stir in the broth or water and continue to cook until they are tender, up to 15 minutes longer. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to the platter with the chicken. Serve with the lemon wedges, or, as I did, a dash of lemon pepper.

For dessert I made a Quinoa Pudding from a recipe I found on . It can be either a dessert or breakfast, depending on how you feel about quinoa. Personally, I could eat it any time of day! Quinoa, which is originally from South America, is not a cereal grain as it is not a member of the grass family (Thanks, Wikipedia). The taste is slightly nutty and the texture pops in your mouth, a little slippery, with a mouth-feel that reminds me of caviar! I eat quinoa for breakfast (and dessert) with a spoonful of dried cranberries on top. You can put a sprinkle of cinnamon and a dollop of whipped cream to make it remind you of those decadent desserts you will forgo because you are on a diet.

Quinoa Pudding with Dried Cranberries

3/4 cup quinoa*
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sugar (I used a sugar substitute)
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Rinse the quinoa. This is a step you shouldn’t ignore, as I did. I ended up with a cup of foam on top of the quinoa when it was cooking. Put the rinsed quinoa in a large saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
2. In a blender, add the milk, bananas,sugar or sugar substitute, and salt. Process until the bananas are puréed. Pour the milk mixture into the pot with the quinoa and mix.
3. Over medium heat, cook and stir until the quinoa mixture becomes thick and creamy, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or cold.

*I buy quinoa in bulk at Whole Foods. If you’ve never tried it before, 3/4 cup isn’t an expensive investment.

You Call This Yakisoba? Monkey Bread Too!

It’s not easy if you’re an omnivore to suddenly give up meat, and even if you’re an observant Catholic. AJ wasn’t too keen on this aspect of Lent although he was perfectly willing to give up riding the bus, indeed any public transportation, as a form of penance. To him, a walk was good exercise and he would do it anyway. But meatless Fridays were sure to be boring and tasteless. To make tonight’s menu more appealing, I did a variation on yakisoba and made a special dessert.

You Call This Yakisoba? (With Brown Bean Chili Sauce)
1 package fresh Japanese style noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 leaves kale, chopped
1/2 cup edamame
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
1/2 cup green peas
1/4 cabbage, roughly chopped
1/4 cup scallions, sliced thin
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown bean sauce (recipe follows)

Boil the carrots in a saucepan for about a minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the peas and edamame and cook for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.Bring the water to a boil again and add the fresh noodles. Cook for about two minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Fry the cabbage. When the edges are brown, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover and simmer 2 minutes. Add the kale, carrots, garlic, and scallion. Cook 2 minutes until the kale is wilted. Combine the peas and edamame with the vegetable mixture. Add the cooked noodles and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Lift and separate the noodles with a pair of tongs. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown bean chili sauce.

Brown Bean Chili Sauce
4-6 fresh red chilies, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vinegar or lime juice
1/4 cup bean sauce, mashed
dash soy sauce, if more saltiness is desired

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. This is a pungent sauce that is perfect for boiled chicken.

Monkey Bread Too
2 cups biscuits, shredded into 1 inch pieces
2 large bananas sliced into rounds
cinnamon and sugar to taste
1/4 cup chocolate chips (white or semi-sweet)
2 tablespoons half and half

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

In a large bowl, combine the biscuits and bananas. Add cinnamon and sugar to taste. Toss to coat thoroughly.

Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray. Pour the biscuit mixture evenly into the pan. Bake 20 minutes.

In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips in 10 second increments. Add up to 2 tablespoons half and half until the chocolate is the desired consistency for pouring.

Spoon some of the bread and bananas into a small bowl and drizzle the sauce on top. Delicious!