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10 posts from November 2021

11/30/2021

~ Boston Cream Pie -- Why this Cake is called a Pie ~

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07f62f7c970dBoston Cream Pie, a feel-good dessert that won the hearts of Americans over a century ago.  The crazy thing is, it's a cake, not a pie -- not even close to a pie.  That said, this retro cake, sandwiched between a layer of pastry cream and topped with chocolate, is one of my favorite cake desserts.  Don't ask me why -- ok ask me why -- I find myself making Boston Cream Pie in the dead cold of Winter.  That's because my mom always made it for the Thanksgiving holiday, as a cake dessert to accompany her pies (and please the cake lovers).  She always chuckled when she offer dessert, saying, "you have a choice been pumpkin pie, apple pie, or, Boston cream pie."

A bit about the Boston cream pie:  Let's start with, it's the national dessert of Massachusetts' (over the Toll House Cookie and the Fig Newton). That's some very famous company.  Past that, it's not a pie, it's a cake:  two thin-ish layers of vanilla and/or rum-flavored, golden butter-cake with a vanilla- or rum-flavored egg-laced pastry cream sandwiched between the layers.  The op is glazed with a soft, elegant, almost drizzly chocolate.  It is attributed to be the culinary creation of French chef Sanzian of Boston's Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House --  The Parker House was the first hotel in the city to boast hot-and-cold running water and an elevator ), although they have never explained why they named it "Boston Cream Pie", although during that period, chocolate was consumed in households in beverage or pudding form, and, pastry-creams were limited to use in "cream cakes" (aka cream puffs).  Their idea to incorporate the two into a cake called "Chocolate Cream Pie" (later renamed Boston Cream Pie) became quite the rage.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb07f49ab5970dSo why is this cake called a pie?  It's thin (like a pie), it's soft (like a pie), and, it gets cut into wedges (like a pie). There's a bit more to it than that.  It seems that in early American New England and Pennsylvania Dutch country, cooks were known for baking crossover-cakes (my word) meaning:  sometimes it was hard to tell them apart.  The Pennsylvania Dutch Shoo-Fly pie is a prime example.  That was because pie tins were more common than cake pans.  More often than not, these cooks baked pies and cakes in pie tins.  It is said that the precursor to Boston Cream Pie was the early American "Pudding-Cake Pie".  This "pie" became so popular, it was turned into a boxed mix by Betty Crocker and sold sold nationally in 1958.  At age three, this boxed mix was my introduction to Boston Cream Pie.

I won't lie, this convenient mix containing three packets, one each for mixing the cake, custard and chocolate glaze kept me very happy for a lot of years.  Like a good brownie mix, I always kept a box in my pantry for emergency purposes.  Then, without explanation, they stopped making it -- poof -- it disappeared.  I hate it when that happens.  Fast forward to the year 2000.  I was  hosting a birthday party for two of my neighbors and girlfriends, Carol and Maryann, who celebrate their birthdays on February 10th and 14th.  For their new millennium birthdays, I decided to serve a retro lunch:  my own recipes for Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup, Waldorf Chicken Salad, and, Boston Cream Pie.  For their birthday gifts:  I gave them each a fondue pot.

Try my recipe for Baby, it's Never to Cold for Boston Cream Pie:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c752645b970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/27/2021

~ Bell's Seasoning -- My Favorite Poultry Seasoning ~

IMG_3477 2Poultry seasoning.  These two words get used generically in the writing of recipes, meaning, no brand name is mentioned -- Bell's, Durkee, McCormick, Penzey's, Spice Hunter, etc.  This leads the reader to believe that all poultry seasoning is basically the same and all brands can be used interchangeably.   In the wide world of spice blends, nothing could be further from the truth. Poultry seasonings are all relatively strong-flavored blends of ground, aromatic herbs and spices, and, they vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer.  None of them contain the same list of herbs and spices, most are salt-free, many are all-natural, and, others are organic -- also noteworthy, none contain poultry products or bi-products of poultry.  All that said, if you grew up liking foods seasoned with poultry seasoning:  stick to the brand your mom or grandma used. Never tasted or used poultry seasoning?  Invest in two or three and taste them side by side.

Bell's brand is America's oldest purveyor of seasonings, spices and stuffing mixes.  It started in Boston in 1867, a short four years after President Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a federal holiday.  William F.Bell of Newton, Massachusetts created an exotic-smelling combination of all-natural, salt-free, preservative-free herbs and spices from and old family recipe.  He called it "Bell's Seasoning".  Trading ships carried his ingredients into Boston Harbor and it didn't take long for his blend to become a beloved staple throughout New England.  Over a century later, the recipe for the mixture remains the same -- and so does the colorful box it comes in..

Bells-1902-720x534To copycat/make 4 tablespoons Bell's poultry seasoning, process (in a small electric spice blender) the following to a powdery state:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c70428f1970b2 1/2  teaspoons dried rosemary leaves

2  teaspoons dried oregano leaves

2  teaspoons dried rubbed dalmatian sage

1 3/4-2  teaspoons ground ginger

1 1/2  teaspoons dried marjoram leaves

1 1/2  teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1/4-1/2  teaspoon black pepper

Note:  Store poultry seasoning in a tightly-covered container as you would any other seasoning blend.

A point to ponder:  Consider this before you purchase that pricey oversized jar or box of poultry seasoning. If you only use a few tablespoons a couple of times a year (mostly during the holiday season), there is a case for making your own.  All dried herbs and spices have a relatively short shelf life before they start to lose their intensity, six months to a year.  Poultry seasoning (or any herbaceous spice blend) is no exception.  For me, making my own poultry seasoning once or twice a year is an efficient to use up those herbs and spices before they end up in the trash.

Try my Bell's Seasoned Basic, Soft White Bread Stuffing:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c712e994970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021) 

11/24/2021

~Take All the Guesswork Out of Portioning All Poultry~

6a0120a8551282970b019b01ad0351970b 2What size bird to purchase, no matter what the occasion, tends to be confusing because, simply stated, all poultry is not created equal.  Seasoned cooks will tell you size doesn't always matter, because some fowl, duck for instance, may appear to be large enough to feed six people, but, you'd be lucky if you get enough meat from one to adequately feed three.  If you've never cooked a duck before, one duck comfortably feeds two people -- and I had to learn this the hard way.

Every cook, novice or expert, at some point, finds him or herself asking the question, "how much poultry do I need to buy?"  This chart is a great place to start.  I ripped it out of a magazine in my doctors office almost 38 years ago.  Since my son Jess will celebrate his 38th birthday in December, my recollection is precise.  We women remember important stuff like our wedding day, the birth of a child, and, the first time we cooked Thanksgiving Dinner for our family -- timing the turkey, making the gravy, and, peeling all those potatoes.  It can be extremely overwhelming.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d0910b84970c

About the only other commentary I can add to this short, informative post comes in the form of advice:  Always know your crowd.  Purchase more poultry if you're serving dinner to four hungry college-age guys, or less, if your serving lunch to four middle-aged women.  Always look at the big picture too.  If you want leftovers of the dish you are serving, or you can use some of the leftover poultry to turn out a quick second meal for your family, buy twice as much -- I do!

IMG_5419"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/21/2021

~Twelve Easy Steps to the Perfect Turkey Day Turkey~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d09c3f8f970cSo you're cooking your first turkey today.  Congratulations and worry not.  I'm sharing my uber-easy foolproof method, which I've been using since before you were probably born, and, it works great for all turkeys -- fresh (never frozen), frozen (and completely thawed) or organic, it works.  Period.  Ready?  Set?  Get your bird out of the refrigerator 1-2 hours prior to roasting (to take the chill out of it).  Before opening the package, make a note of its poundage and weight (so you can follow the timing guidelines below).  Place the bird in the sink (a lot of juices are going to ooze out), carefully open the package, and, remember to remove the giblets from the cavities.  

******

TIMING GUIDELINES:

20 minutes per pound for small birds up to 8 pounds

15 minutes per pound for medium birds 8-16 pounds

13 minutes per pound for large birds 16-20 pounds

11 minutes per pound for extra-large birds 20-22 pounds

10 minutes per pound for huge birds over 22 pounds

Begin timing the bird the moment it goes into the 350 ° oven.

The best test for doneness is an instant-read meat thermometer placed in the breast and then the leg-thigh portion.  Remove from the oven when meat has reached an internal temperature between 160-165 degrees.  I like to remove mine at 160 degrees.  Carry-over heat will continue to cook the bird during the resting process. 

************

Insert a rack in a large roasting pan (disposable pans are great) -- add 6 cups chicken stock (to render lots of drippings for gravy):

IMG_7309Remove neck and giblets from cavities (reserve those for gravy) -- place bird, breast side up, on center of rack.

IMG_7313In breast cavity, stuff the following: 5-6 rosemary sprigs...

IMG_7315... 3-4 celery stalks...

IMG_7318... 1 small sweet onion...

IMG_7319... 1 small tart apple (these aromatics exude flavor and moisture).

IMG_7325Sprinkle or grind salt and pepper evenly over all.

IMG_7333Out of aluminum foil, fashion a protective shield for the breast:

IMG_7336Place turkey on lowest rack of 350° oven.

IMG_7337When breast turns light brown (after about 20-30 minutes):

IMG_7340Place the protective shield atop the tender breast meat:

IMG_7344Remove from oven, tightly seal the entire pan with aluminum foil -- rest 45 minutes prior to carving and using dripping to make gravy:

IMG_7347"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/18/2021

~ Tis the Season to Learn the History Behind Eggnog ~

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d18ac19f970cEggnog means eggs in a cup, and it is used on both sides of the Atlantic to toast to health.  Nog is an old English term for a small wooden cup.  It descended from a hot British drink called posset, made from eggs beaten with milk, sugar and some type of spirit. During that period, alcoholic drinks were served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Because it was cooked, posset traveled and adapted well to local tastes.  One such place: the American colonies, which were full of farms which were full of chickens, cows and lots of cheap rum -- our signature ingredient. 

Fast forward to present day.  Over the holidays, pasteurized eggnog is sold in milk-like cartons in almost every grocery store in America.  Here is where I stick my two cents in.  All store-bought eggnog is not created equal.  Most mass-produced name brands are cloyingly sweet, leaving an almost bubblegum-like aftertaste.  Most purists agree (I am one), those who don't like this traditional Yultide beverage have simply never had the opportunity to taste real-deal eggnog.

References to eggnog date back to the 1800s, when, even back then it was served during the Winter holiday season. Known as "egg milk punch", it was and still is a sweetened dairy-based beverage made with milk, sugar, raw egg yolks, whipped egg whites and a splash of rum and/or vanilla extract. Nowadays cream is always included in place of some or all of the milk, because today's milk has a much lower fat content than milk in the 1800's, which had cream on top.

Brandy, rum and/or bourbon are almost always added.  The plain truth:  Eggnog just tastes A LOT better with some alcohol in it.  Each smallish finished serving is poured into a punch cup, then it's topped off with a dollop of freshly-whipped cream and a sprinkling of freshly-ground nutmeg.

Try My Happy Valley Meyer Dairy Eggnog Cookies:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3c74f4a200bOr, My Eggnog Breakfast Brioche in the Bread Machine:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d24b8827970cAnd, help yourself to My Eggnog Brioche French Toast Sticks:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d24c72d1970c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/15/2021

~Caviar - The Perfect Start to Any Holiday Celebration~

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08947070970dThe word caviar, which refers to lightly-salted roe, aka fish eggs, comes from the Turkish word khavyar and dates back centuries. There are many types of caviar, but true caviar comes from sturgeon, which has been a big part of the Middle Eastern and Eastern European diet for all of their history, and, caviar from the Caspian Sea and rivers of Russia has always been considered uber-premium.  In order of high-end to low-end pricing, there four types of sturgeon caviar: beluga, sevruga, oestra and ship -- and no sturgeon caviar is what I consider cheap.  

The experts will all tell you, when choosing any type of caviar, let your palate, not the price, be your guide.  I am a prime example as I find some of the inexpensive caviar choices (the Japanese black tobiko roe and American Alaskan red salmon roe for example), remarkably more to my liking.  Once upon a time in the Middle East and Europe, caviar was reserved for royalty and their guests.  Here in 19th century America, when our waters were full of sturgeon, salty caviar was, surprisingly, sold uber-cheap or served free in saloons to get customers to drink more beer.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08947a7a970dA bit about caviar utensils and etiquette:  Just like fish and seafood, all caviar should be very fresh, so, purchase it from a reliable source within 1-3 days of serving it. Because heat and oxygen are caviars worst enemies, it should be kept refrigerated and unopened until just prior to serving it in a non-metallic bowl nestled in a larger bowl of cracked or crushed ice. Since metal affects the taste of caviar, caviar spoons are typically made of mother-of-pearl, bone, tortoise shell, glass, wood or plastic.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7f05f2b970bUnless it is being used as a garnish, caviar is served as an hors d'oeuvre.  It's meant to be eaten in 1/2 teaspoon portions, and, it's considered bad manners to heap more than that on each appetizer. 

As for what to drink with caviar, while I like fine French champagne as much as the next person, no self-respecting gal of Russian descent would ever serve her caviar with anything other than iced shots of the finest frozen Russian vodka available. "Nasdrovia!" "To health!"

How much to buy & the classic caviar service:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d17a4319970cDon't get nervous, none of the following info is etched in stone.  It's all about the caviar, it's the star of the show, but, caviar is to be accompanied by items that enhance its flavor, not interfere with it.  When it comes to the foil, or the bland, edible, bread vessel it will be placed atop, while toast points or water biscuits are perfectly acceptable, purists all agree that Russian buckwheat blini (small, 2"-2 1/2"-round yeast-risen pancakes) are considered traditional and classic.

Estimating how much caviar to buy: There are, give or take, 8-10, 1/2 teaspoon servings of caviar in 1 ounce.  That means, the 2-ounce jar of caviar pictured here should be enough to make 16-20 appetizers -- if everyone plays by the 1/2 teaspoonful rule.  I plan on 2 ounces of caviar serving 4 people.  Because caviar is best served opened fresh (within the hour) and chilled, I almost always purchase a few smaller containers, rather than one large one, and refresh it as needed.

What to serve with caviar:  Once you've decided on the foil (which for me is always buckwheat blini), plan and prep the accompaniments. Sour cream (or creme fraiche if you are French), chopped hard-cooked egg (whites and yolks chopped and served separately), minced red onion and minced chives are mandatory.  I also include, for those not fond of caviar and to stretch the amount of caviar consumed, small chunks of pickled herring and thin slices of smoked salmon.

Try your caviar on my recipe for Russian Buckwheat Blini:

6a0120a8551282970b01bb08947286970d"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/12/2021

~ For the Love of Omelettes -- An Omelette Oration ~

IMG_3450I am a lover of omelettes.  I've always enjoyed a savory breakfast more than a sweet breakfast, and, the omelette easily turns two or three eggs into a satisfying meal.  That said, I am a much bigger fan of the fluffy American-style omelette vs the skinny French omelette,  Don't get me wrong, I do like them both, and, while the French omelette is indeed iconic, in my opinion, miracle of miracles, we Americans actually improved upon it.  By allowing our version to get a little golden on the outside, which gives it a bit of extra flavor and texture, and, by generously filling it with a heavenly host of filling combos, egg lovers like me have turned the omelette into the hot pocket of beloved egg dishes.  While I make quite a few omelettes during the course of any year, classic recipes with a clear history, popular breakfast-joint diner-type favorites, and, recipes with eggs-traordinary stories are the ones I enjoy sharing, and the following six are egg-cellent:

Caramelized Onion, Gruyère & Dijonnaise Omelette:

6a0120a8551282970b0282e1081299200bMediterranean-Syle Olive Tapenade & Feta Omelette:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a48937be200dTangy Mustard- and Chive-Laced Cheese Omelette:

6a0120a8551282970b0240a45b0d5d200cYe Olde Diner-Style Creamed-Spinach Omelette:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c829e82e970bSteak, Peppers & Cheddar Chimichurri Omelette:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d18d60ff970cMy Kinda Cowboy Breakfast -- The Denver Omelette:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d1870f13970c"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/09/2021

~ Cinnamon-Roll Pancakes w/Cream Cheese Drizzle ~

IMG_3406Fresh-baked cinnamon rolls in the morning.  I wish I had the inclination to make them for more than special occasions.  That was, until, while watching A Million Little Things on TV last week, I learned about:  cinnamon-roll pancakes.  Where have these been all my life?  For the love of breakfast and brunch, I had no idea that an easy-to-make cinnamon swirl mixture squirted onto a few pancakes while they're cooking would propel them from ordinary to extraordinary in a few short seconds.  The finishing touch, a cream cheese drizzle (instead of the typical maple syrup), gives them all the yummy taste of a cinnamon roll in one stack of pancakes.  Be still my heart.

IMG_3396All the yummy taste of cinnamon rolls in one stack of pancakes:

IMG_3348For the cinnamon swirl mixture:

6  tablespoons salted butter

12  tablespoons dark brown sugar

1 1/2  teaspoons cinnamon

IMG_3350~ Step 1.  Gently melt the butter in the microwave, then stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Set aside, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to the consistency of toothpaste -- this can take 30-40 minutes depending on how hot the butter got.  To thicken the mixture faster, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.  To soften the mixture, place it in the microwave for a few seconds. Transfer mixture to a small-size plastic squeeze-type bottle used for drizzling condiments and frostings.*

IMG_3345For the  cream cheese drizzle:

4  ounces soft cream cheese

2  cups confectioners' sugar

2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2  tablespoons milk, plus 1-2 teaspoons more

~ Step 1. Place ingredients in a small food processor.  Pulse 5-10 times, then with motor on, process 25-30 seconds until smooth.  If necessary, through feed tube, add 1-2 teaspoons additional milk, until drizzly consistency is reached. Transfer mixture to a medium plastic squeeze bottle used for drizzling condiments and frostings.*

*Note:  Both the cinnamon swirl mixture and the cream cheese drizzle can be prepared several hours or a day in advance and safely left at room room temperature without compromise.

6a0120a8551282970b026bdeb566e5200cFor the dry pancake mix:

6  cups unbleached all-purpose flour

6  tablespoons sugar

3  tablespoons baking powder

1  tablespoon baking soda

2  teaspoons sea salt

~ Step 1. in a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together.  Transfer to an airtight container.  Store in the pantry for up to six months.

6a0120a8551282970b0278800d3a6e200dFor the pancakes:

1  cup pancake mix

1  cup whole milk or 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (Note:  Buttermilk is quite a bit thicker in consistency than whole milk, so a bit more is required.)

1  large egg

2  teaspoons vanilla extract

corn or vegetable oil, for frying the pancakes

IMG_8460 IMG_8460 IMG_8460 IMG_8460 IMG_8460~Step 2.  To make the pancake batter, in a medium bowl, place and whisk together the milk (or buttermilk) egg and extract -- I like to use a hand-held rotary egg beater to do this.  Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. Beat the ingredients together, and, there is no need to worry about getting out all of the lumps.  Cover and set aside for about 5-10 minutes. Check the consistency, and, if the mix seems too thick, whisk in a splash of extra milk or buttermilk.

IMG_8470 IMG_8470 IMG_3383 IMG_3365 IMG_3365~Step 3.  To cook/fry the pancakes, in any size nonstick skillet, place a thin coating of corn or vegetable oil.  Place skillet over medium- medium-low heat (in the case of these pancakes, error on the side of lower heat and longer cooking time).  For each pancake, pour about 1/3 cup batter into skillet.  The pancake will form itself.  Wait until bubbles form across the surface and the surface of the pancake starts to look dry (about 1 1/2-2 minutes), then, starting at the center of the pancake, and working your way to the outside, squeeze the cinnamon swirl mixture (in circles) over the surface of the batter.  As soon as bottom of pancake is golden and done, using a a spatula, flip the pancake over.  Cook on the second side about 1/2-1 more minute. Using the spatula, invert the pancake, swirl side up, onto a wire rack wire rack and repeat process with remaining batter.  Stack and serve pancakes with cream cheese drizzle.  

Note:  For evenly-shaped, evenly-cooked pancakes, I like to fry them individually, in 1-2, 8" skillets -- two skillets on the stovetop at once.  After each 1-2 cook, I add a splash of additional oil to each pan, and, continue to cook until all of the batter has been used.  Try it my way -- each pancake comes out perfect every time.  Trust me -- one pancake per skillet is the ticket to perfection.

Stack & serve hot or warm (& they're good at room temp too)...

IMG_3391... with a generous amount of cream cheese drizzle:

IMG_3419Cinnamon-Roll Pancakes w/Cream Cheese Drizzle:  Recipe yields 7 cups pancake mix (each 1 cup yields 6 pancakes)/3/4 cup cinnamon swirl mixture (enough for 12 pancakes)/1 cup cream cheese drizzle (enough for 12 pancakes)/2 servings of 3 pancakes each.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; spoon; 2, small plastic squeeze-type bottles used for drizzling condiments or frosting; small-capacity food processor; hand-held rotary egg beater; 8" nonstick skillet; spatula; wire rack 

6a0120a8551282970b0278800d81cc200dCook's Note: Pancakes or waffles, waffles or pancakes.  Everyone loves them, and, once you make the decision to make one of these two common breakfast foods, in the culinary scheme of things, no two dishes that start out fundamentally same (with a flour, milk and egg batter), could possible emerge so different.  When it comes to pancakes and waffles, the number one mistake folks make it assuming they can use the same batter for both -- perfectly underderstandable, but wrong. Waffle batter is thicker than pancake batter and requires more eggs, fat and sugar to render the unique, signature texture.  It's not rocket science, but, it is important.  Click here to learn  ~ What's the Difference between Pancake & Waffle Batter ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/06/2021

~ PB&J Lovers Stuffed Banana Bread French Toast ~

IMG_3322Looking for a way to turn the heart-warming memories of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches of your youth into a decadent adult indulgence?  Whether you are or you aren't, just know, this'll do it.  For us American breakfast eaters, iHop has schooled us on the term "stuffed French toast", and, ranked by popularity, PB&J stuffed French toast is at or near the top of that list.  In fact, for PB&J lovers, it's hard to imagine anything being better than PB&J stuffed French toast.  

Newsflash, there is:  PB&J stuffed French Toast made using banana bread.  It's so good, Elvis would be jealous.  There's more.  It doesn't take any longer to make than the average serving of French toast, and, as long as you have a few slices of two-three day old banana bread hanging around your kitchen, you most likely have all the ingredients on-hand.  While I can't in good conscience recommend adding this calorie-packed item to your menu rotation on a weekly basis, it is indeed a flavor-packed special occasion treat for any celebratory breakfast or brunch. 

It's so darned good, Elvis would be jealous:

IMG_3283For two full-size sandwiches:

4  slices 1/2"-thick 2-3 day old banana bread

2  large eggs

1/4  cup whole milk

1/4  cup creamy or chunky peanut butter

1/4  cup fruit-of-choice preserves

2  tablespoons salted butter

IMG_3288 IMG_3288 IMG_3288 IMG_3288 IMG_3288~Step 1.  In a flat-bottomed medium-sized bowl, use a fork to whisk together the eggs and milk -- there is no need to add any salt, sugar or flavorings to this mixture.  For each of two sandwiches, slather one half of a slice of 1/2"-thick banana bread with 2 tablespoons peanut butter, then, slather a second slice with 2 tablespoons fruit preserves -- preserves work better than jelly.  Place one slice, slathered side down, atop the other, to form a sandwich. Secure the sandwich with 2 toothpicks and use a pair of kitchen sheers to clip the tops of the toothpicks off -- these two toothpicks will hold it together during the soaking and frying process.

IMG_3303 IMG_3303~ Step 2.  Gently pick up and gently lower the sandwich down into the whisked egg mixture.  Let it soak in the liquid for about 1-1 1/2 minutes, then, with the aid of the fork, gently lift and flip the sandwich over.  Allow the second side to soak in the liquid for a second 1-1/2 minutes.  Resist the urge to soak the banana bread any longer.

IMG_3308 IMG_3308 IMG_3308 IMG_3308 IMG_3308~Step 3.  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in an 8" nonstick skillet over low heat. Gently lift the sandwich out of the egg mixture (allowing a second or three for the excess liquid to drain back into the bowl) and gently lower the sandwich down into the skillet.  Increase the heat to medium.  Allow sandwich to sauté gently in the melted butter for 1 1/2-2 minutes, or until golden brown.  With the aid of a the fork, gently flip the sandwich over and allow the second side to sauté gently in the remaining butter for 1-1 1/2 minutes (a slightly shorter time than the first side). Turn the heat off.  With the aid of a spatula, remove it from the skillet, place it on a plate and let it rest about 30-45 seconds.  Use a serrated bread knife to gently slice it in half, remove the toothpicks and serve immediately.  Repeat with the second sandwich and remaining egg mixture.

Serve w/bacon, &, garnish w/sliced bananas & strawberries:

IMG_3333PB&J Lovers Stuffed Banana Bread French Toast:  Recipe yields 2 stuffed French toast sandwiches/2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  fork; toothpicks; kitchen shears; 8" nonstick skillet; spatula; serrated bread knife

6a0120a8551282970b026bdeb268c6200cCook's Note:   The French words for French toast are pain perdu, meaning lost bread, because it is a way of reviving bread which becomes dry after a day or two.  The basics of any French toast recipe are pretty simple:  Thickly-sliced, two-three-day-old bread is dipped into a vanilla-flavored egg-and-cream custard mixture.  The bread is allowed to soak up the custard for a few moments, then it gets fried in a skillet containing a coating of oil.  When executed correctly, it emerges crisp and golden brown on both sides with a creamy, almost pudding-like, center. To learn ~ How to Make the Best Basic, Classic French Toast ~, just click on the link!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

11/03/2021

~Best Basic Banana Bread - Simple & Straightforward~

IMG_3278My mom didn't love to bake, but, she did bake a few things on a regular basis.  We always seemed to have some chocolate chip cookies, an apple pie or a loaf of banana bread.  When the cookie jar was down to the last few, out from the pantry came a bag of chocolate chips.  When the last slice of pie disappeared from the pie server, a half dozen apples came out of the crisper-drawer of the refrigerator.  And, year round, there always seemed to be a bunch of bananas on the countertop ripening for the next loaf of banana bread.  All of her baked goods tasted great, and, ss a working mom, the recipes were simple and straightforward.  The cookie recipe was printed on the bag Nestle Toll House Morsels, the apple pie recipe was clipped from a Woman's Day magazine, and, the banana bread recipe was bookmarked in Betty Crocker's Cookbook. 

Buttery-rich, super-moist & full of banana flavor banana bread:

IMG_3214For the dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon baking powder

1  teaspoon baking soda

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

For the wet ingredients:

1 1/2 cups mashed bananas, from 4-5 very over-ripe bananas

1/2  cup salted butter (1 stick)

2  large eggs, lightly beaten

1  tablespoon pure banana extract

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2  cup granulated sugar

1/2  cup dark brown sugar

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing loaf pan

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e711be970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e711be970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e711be970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb09e711be970d~Step 1.  Spray a 8" x 4" loaf pan with no-stick and preheat oven to 325° -- I use a glass loaf pan, so I can keep an eye on what's going on.  In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Place one banana in a 2-cup measuring container and use a fork to mash it -- keep adding bananas (one-at-a-time) to container and mash until you total 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas.  Place the butter in a 1-cup measuring container and gently melt it in the microwave.

IMG_3224 IMG_3224 IMG_3224 IMG_3224 IMG_3224 IMG_3224~Step 2.  Place mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs and extracts in a large bowl.  Using a hand-held rotary beater, beat to combine.  Add sugars and beat again.  Using a large spoon, add and fold in the dry ingredients.  Transfer batter to loaf pan.

IMG_3251 IMG_3251~ Step 3.  Bake on center rack of preheated 325° oven 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the highest part of the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool, in pan, for 4-5 minutes.  Invert pan to remove bread from loaf pan to cool completely, on rack, 1-2 hours, prior to slicing and serving.

Simple, straightforward old-fashioned goodness:

IMG_3282Best Basic Banana Bread - Simple & Straightforward:  Recipe yields 1 standard-size loaf/10-12 servings.

Special Equipment List: 8" x 4" loaf pan, preferably glass; fork; 2-cup measuring container; 1-cup measuring container; hand-held rotary beater or hand-held electric mixer; large spoon; cake tester; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0282e121061a200bCook's Note: Quick bread is an American term that refers to bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time.  It originated during the American civil war, when the demand for food and bread was high.  Cooks began rapidly producing bread and baked goods that were leavened with baking soda rather than yeast.  Nowadays, the leavening agent is predominately double-acting baking powder, or, a combination of baking powder and baking soda.  For more detail, read ~ What is Quick Bread and What Defines Quick Bread ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)