Sunday, May 30, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

We usually eat all of our bananas before they can get to that overripe stage that's perfect for baking. However, last weekend we ended up with some lovely brown-spotted bananas in our fruit bowl, begging to be made into a tasty baked good. I had never made banana bread before, so I pulled up a recipe on the Cooking Light website. I made a few changes: using vanilla yogurt instead of the regular, and adding a handful of chocolate chips to the batter. This doesn't taste "light" at all (probably because there's half a stick of butter in it; ahem), and we've been enjoying it for breakfast all week long.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

I immediately flagged this recipe when I saw it in Cooking Light last month, knowing that I'd be able to get fresh strawberries soon. After picking up a bunch at our farmer's market, I decided to whip this up since we had the rest of the ingredients at home. The end result was a light, delicious dessert with all of the flavors of a strawberry cheesecake (just with more strawberry and less cheesecake).

I made a few changes: I used a mix of regular and cinnamon graham crackers for the crust, and added a splash of Amaretto instead of the almond extract. I also used more strawberry glaze than I was supposed to (a tasty mistake, mind you). For some reason the original recipe instructs you to make the glaze, and then tells you to use half of it on your tart and save the rest for another use. Since I can't read, I just dumped most of the glaze on the tart before I realized I wasn't supposed to. No one complained. So, use as much as you like. If you have any leftover, try it on pancakes or ice cream.

The only problem I had with this was that I wasn't able to cut a nice-looking (ie., triangular) slice. The middle of my crust was too soft, so I probably needed to bake it a little bit longer. It may also have helped if I used a tart pan rather than a pie plate, but we don't seem to own a tart pan.

John and I just polished off the last two slices in order to fill the void in our hearts from the end of our favorite tv series, Lost. I think I'm going to need to make more...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rosemary Focaccia

Fresh herbs seem to be another one of those things that I'm always struggling to find uses for so that they don't go to waste. We bought rosemary for a recipe and had quite a bit leftover, so I thought I'd make this focaccia to go along with John's homemade ravioli

As someone who is inexperienced with bread-making, I found this really easy. My dough rose beautifully and then baked to perfection. There is rosemary in the dough and more sprinkled on top before baking, so this has lots of flavor. It's not overly oily like a lot of focaccia I've had, and was the perfect thing for mopping up extra sauce.

We had our friends over to help us eat this carb-fest, and still had lots of bread leftover. My plan for these leftovers? Croutons!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spring Vegetable Risotto

I'm happy to say that our local farmer's market opened up recently, providing fresh inspiration to cook some new dishes. There aren't a whole lot of local vegetables available in New Jersey this time of year, but we did find some asparagus that became the basis for this dish. John's parents came over last weekend for a belated mother's day dinner, and we put together this risotto, along with a rosemary and garlic pork loin (recipe to come).

Risotto is becoming one of my favorite things to cook. While it does require a lot of attention, I'm really coming to enjoy the process of adding a little stock, stirring, waiting for it to absorb, adding some more stock, sipping some wine (I had to open a bottle anyways...), stirring, etc. And this particular recipe calls for a gremolata topping, which apparently is a posh way of saying "smooshed up herbs and lemon zest". It was a nice touch, and you use the stems from the herbs to add extra flavor to your broth. I loved how this turned out, and it was a perfect excuse to cook up some spring veggies.