Sunday, February 23, 2014

Brown Butter Bourbon Banana Bread

Ever since Alex bought me a stand mixer, I've been doing a lot of baking.  I've developed a patience for it and definitely an appetite for homemade baked goods.  I'm getting much better at not sitting on the floor in front of the oven waiting for cookies, cakes, and muffins to rise.  One thing hasn't changed though; the fewer the ingredients, the more likely it is that I'll make it. Let's just say, that mixer has gotten us into a lot of snacking trouble lately and I've gotten a lot better at finding baked goods recipes I'm willing to try. I've also fallen in love with browned butter--in all types of cookies and now in banana bread/ muffins.

Last weekend, I got out of bed early, walked into the kitchen and saw three spotty, sad looking bananas sitting at the top of the fruit bowl.  Sad looking bananas = b-a-n-a-n-a bread.  I'm a huge fan of banana bread because it's an easy, delicious breakfast and there's no better way to start the morning than with a warm, freshly baked banana muffin with a pat of Vermont Creamery Sea Salt butter.

I wish we still had more muffins...

I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen's Jacked-Up Banana Bread and used a splash of Grand Marnier instead of bourbon and I added the zest of one orange to add more of that fresh, citrus flavor.  

3 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup browned, salted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flour

zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and Grand Marnier, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into your muffin tin. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and serve with a smack of butter, jam, or Grand Marnier and orange zest creme fraiche. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Thanks for standing by.  I know it's been a while and my writing is a little horribly rusty so please bare with me as I clumsily make my way through this post.  2013 was full of incredible surprises, meeting new people, and taking great trips--including a three week vacation through Italy (ITALY!).  Don't worry, I will indulge in the details and share a few photos later but I figured I'd ease my way back into this place with a short but sweet post about Monday night's dinner which was inspired by scrolling through photos from our trip to Italia.   

Alex and I have just started watching Break Bad.  And by "just started" I mean we've just started Season 4. I don't think I've ever been more captivated by a television show in my life.  I have a very short attention span and usually get antsy after sitting still for just an hour but there have been a handful of days when Alex and I binge watched 5 episodes.  You'd be proud.  

Needless to say, every night that we're home for dinner we plop our bottoms down on the rug in the living room and eat at the coffee table front row to the television.  

Monday night was no different.  I made a big pot of spaghetti with butternut squash, pancetta, fresh English peas, and a Malbec tomato sauce and when Alex got home, we twirled ourselves a heaping pile of pasta, pulled up some rug and plopped ourselves down in front of the television.  No time for pleasantries and romance when there's blue meth to attend to.

Though the pasta was inspired by my flipping through photos of our trip to Italy, what I really want to talk about is the brown sugar pear clafoutis I made for dessert.  I had come across the recipe while reading the Orangette a few days back and dogeared it for another day.  Monday was the day. I had a comice pear who's time was running out and I remembered this clafoutis recipe I had bookmarked the week before. This recipe is going to become a staple in our home starting now.  It's insanely easy and o so good.

I had never heard of a clafoutis before let alone make it!  I had no idea what to expect.  What came  out of the oven was a fluffy, golden souffle that perfumed of sweet vanilla and pear. We let it cool on a wire rack as and once it cooled, Alex and I dove right in.

The clafoutis was smooth, custard-like, and it tasted of caramel.  I have to agree with Molly though, it is much better the next day once the custard has really set.

Brown Sugar Pear Clafoutis
Butter, for greasing the pan
About 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, for dusting the pan
1 large ripe pear
4 large eggs
1 ¼ cups whole milk
1 cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 ½-inch pie plate and dust it lightly with granulated sugar. Shake out any excess.

Peel and core the pear, and slice it into roughly 1/4in.  Arrange them on the bottom of the prepared pan.

In the jar of a blender, combine the milk through flour. Blend on high speed for 1 minute (stopping once, if needed, to scrape down any flour that may stick to the sides of the jar). Pour the batter over the pears.

Bake until the custard is puffed and golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. The custard will deflate quite a bit as it cools.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

Yield: 6 servings