Raspberry Coconut Banana Loaf

Here we are, in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, I’m working from home, and my stress management is to bake.  Lots.  I planned on making a banana blueberry loaf, but where are the blueberries I was so sure were in my freezer?  Who knows?  Only realized that of course when I was in the midst of the batter, so here we are, and sometimes the best recipes come from necessity!  This is one of those happy circumstances.

banana loaf 2

Just look at that crunchy top!

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (if you can, trust me, this makes a difference)
  • 1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut

 

  • 1/2 cup melted butter (but not hot)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana
  • 1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen – if frozen DO NOT THAW)

Raw sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour a standard loaf pan (9″ x 5″)

Whisk dry ingredients together in large mixing bowl.

In separate bowl beat together the sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and banana.

When ready to combine, and only then, toss the raspberries with the flour mixture.  This will prevent them from sticking together.  Stir in the liquid mixture, and only stir just until it all comes together.  Do not overmix.

Turn batter into prepared pan and sprinkle the top with raw sugar – you won’t believe how crunchy that top will get – pure delight.

Bake at 350 for at least 60 minutes, use a tester to make sure it is cooked in the middle.  Remove from oven to a cooling rack and allow to sit for 15 minutes before removing from loaf pan.

As per my original plans you could just as easily use fresh or frozen blueberries!

 

Crazy Good NO Knead Focaccia

No Knead Focaccia 2

You are going to love this … soft, chewy, and the best focaccia you could possible imagine.  Can’t you just smell it from the photo?  Yum.

  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (or 1 pack)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – divided
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • flaky sea salt
  • 2-4 garlic cloves

Whisk 1¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.), 2 tsp. honey, and 2½ cups lukewarm water in a medium bowl and let sit 5 minutes (it should foam or at least get creamy; if it doesn’t your yeast is dead and you should start again—check the expiration date!).

Add 5 cups (625 g) all-purpose flour and 1 Tbsp. kosher salt and mix with a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms and no dry streaks remain.

Pour 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into a big bowl that will fit in your refrigerator. This puppy is going to rise! Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat in oil. Cover with a silicone lid or plastic wrap and chill until dough is doubled in size (it should look very bubbly and alive), at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. If you’re in a rush, you can also let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 3–4 hours.

Generously butter a 13×9″ baking pan, for thicker focaccia that’s perfect for sandwiches, or an 18×13″ rimmed baking sheet, for focaccia that’s thinner, crispier, and great for snacking. The butter may seem superfluous, but it’ll ensure that your focaccia doesn’t stick. Pour 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil into center of pan. Keeping the dough in the bowl and using a fork in each hand, gather up edges of dough farthest from you and lift up and over into center of bowl. Give the bowl a quarter turn and repeat process. Do this 2 more times; you want to deflate dough while you form it into a rough ball.

Transfer dough to prepared pan. Pour any oil left in bowl over and turn dough to coat it in oil. Let rise, uncovered, in a dry, warm spot (like near a radiator or on top of the fridge or a preheating oven) until doubled in size, at least 1½ hours and up to 4 hours.

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 450°. To see if the dough is ready, poke it with your finger. It should spring back slowly, leaving a small visible indentation. If it springs back quickly, the dough isn’t ready. (If at this point the dough is ready to bake but you aren’t, you can chill it up to 1 hour.) Lightly oil your hands. If using a rimmed baking sheet, gently stretch out dough to fill (you probably won’t need to do this if using a baking pan). Dimple focaccia all over with your fingers, like you’re aggressively playing the piano, creating very deep depressions in the dough (reach your fingers all the way to the bottom of the pan). Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Bake focaccia until puffed and golden brown all over, 20–30 minutes.

No Knead Focaccia 3

Rising with bits of oil throughout, this little fella has filled the bowl!

No Knead Focaccia 4

It’s pretty darn cold outside today, but this is sitting with the sun streaming in the window and the radiator near …. it rose beautifully.

No Knead Focaccia 1

Just look, 2 hours later it is fluffy and puffed right to the brim.

No Knead Focaccia 5

This is the part where you could get as interesting as you like …. add olives, or rosemary, or little tomato slices ….

I stopped before this last step, just because I wasn’t sure the 12, 9 & 6 year olds at the table wanted the garlic …. but next time!!!

Hold off on this last step until you’re ready to serve the focaccia: Melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Peel and grate in 2–4 garlic cloves with a Microplane (use 2 cloves if you’re garlic-shy or up to 4 if you love it). Return to medium heat and cook, stirring often, until garlic is just lightly toasted, 30–45 seconds. (Or, if you prefer raw garlic to toasted garlic, you can grate the garlic into the hot butter, off heat, then brush right away.)

Brush garlic-butter all over focaccia and slice into squares or rectangles.

Focaccia Art 1

Too much time on my hands …. the Covid- 19 Coronavirus has us all hunkered down in our homes …. look what happens when you can’t go anywhere …

Focaccia Art 2

I was afraid how things would look after baking, but it’s pretty good!

I’ve reposted this from Bon Appetit “Basically” as part of their baking series, it is amazing!!!

 

Moist Delicious Corn Bread

corn bread 2

Easily the quickest of quick breads, moist and tender …. this is absolutely delicious and one you must try.  Just another fantastic use for your cast iron skillet.  Serve this alongside some hearty chili or stew and you’ll have such a comforting meal.

  • 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and place a 12 inch cast iron skillet in to heat up while you make the batter.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl whisk up the buttermilk, eggs, and 7 tbsp of the melted butter.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 and remove the skillet.  CAREFULLY … remember it is hot.
  4. Coat the skillet with the remaining tbsp of melted butter.  Pour the batter in the skillet and place it in the oven.  Amazing to watch …. it right away starts to puff up around the edges.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until firm, and a tester comes out clean.  Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.
corn bread 3

This comes together so quickly – whisk up dry and wet ingredients separately and then quickly combine them.  Stir until you don’t see any lumps, but don’t over mix the batter.

Corn bread 4

As soon as the batter hits the hot pan it starts to smell amazing and I loved the way it puffed up around the edges of the cast iron.

Corn bread 1

It might be difficult, but let it sit for 15 minutes after removing from the oven.  Still warm enough to melt butter but holds together like a dream ….. try it, and I bet you love it.

Have you checked out http://www.jocooks.com ??  I got this recipe from her blog and it is most assuredly the best cornbread I’ve tried.  In fact, I think every recipe I try of hers I love!

Beer Bread

Beer Bread 1

Today I created an extra crunchy crust …… first the melted butter, then sprinkled on some grated aged cheddar, and topped with the seasoned sesame seed mixture left from the dregs of the nuts and bolts mixture I made this Christmas – Y U M

This is the easiest, simplest quick bread!  The most difficult part of making this bread is waiting for it to come out of the oven while amazing smells are drifting through the house …..

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 can or bottle of beer
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift dry ingredients together and stir in 1 12 ounce bottle or can of beer – stir just until it all comes together and turn into a greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  (I like to line the pan with parchment paper – it makes it so easy to lift out of the loaf pan.).

Drizzle the melted butter over and bake.

Bake for 1 hour until a tester comes out clean.

Rest for 10 minutes before removing from loaf pan, then let sit for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

Beer Bread 2

Aged white cheddar and Italian seasoning added today.

 

You can mix this up however you like – add in herbs, grated cheese or some seeds.

My cousin Vivian used dried dill weed in the flour mix, and put olive oil on top … try it!

I’ve had people ask if you can use soda instead of beer ….. not unless you add 2 tsp (or 1 packet) of instant yeast.  It is the beer that helps the bread to rise and not be a heavy lump of dough!

Did you know that you should sift your flour, and SCOOP (using a spoon) into your measuring cup instead of scooping with your measuring cup?  This helps make your flour lighter and in turn, your bread lighter.

 

Portugese Stew With Pork and Clams

I haven’t been to Portugal, but I sure do want to!  This aromatic braise melds fields, land and sea, in the most satisfying way.  Grab some crusty bread and you’ve got a fantastic meal.

Portugese stew 2

I had a few of these adorable baby Yukon golds at hand, along with some bell peppers that went in also ….. after all, a stew is intended to help you clean out the fridge!

  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 6 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Pimentón de la Vera dulce (or your favourite paprika)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium-size (9-ounce) yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and crushed by hand
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock or lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • 2 pounds Manila clams or cockles, scrubbed
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges and crusty bread, for serving

How to Make It

Step 1

Season pork all over with 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and place in a large ziplock plastic bag. Smash 3 garlic cloves, and add to bag with wine, bay leaves, and Pimentón. Seal and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Step 2

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove pork from marinade, and pat dry. Remove and discard garlic and bay leaves; reserve remaining marinade. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of pork, and cook, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate. Repeat with remaining half of pork. Chop remaining 3 garlic cloves, and add to Dutch oven with onion and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; cook, stirring often, until golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, red pepper, and reserved marinade

Step 3

Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring often, 3 minutes. Return cooked pork to Dutch oven; stir in 1 cup stock until pork is mostly submerged. Cover and bake in preheated oven until pork is fork-tender, 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Step 4

Stir in potatoes and remaining 1 cup stock. Cover and bake until potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Step 5

Transfer Dutch oven to stovetop over high, and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open, 3 to 5 minutes. (Remove and discard any unopened clams.) Season with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.

bread

My “no knead” bread was a gift with this stew, the perfect combo!

Make Ahead

Pork may be prepared through step 3 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat before proceeding with step 4.

Suggested Pairing

Robust Portuguese red.
Portugese stew 3

If you should be lucky enough, you will have friends with an amazing bonfire pit to sit around and enjoy your stew, dunking the crusty bread and sipping your beverage of choice.

I spotted this recipe just as we finished making our own Paprika – grilling or smoking, then drying a variety of peppers before grinding them up to enjoy all winter.  This was featured in Food and Wine Magazine, and I’ve copied it exactly as written.  On this particular day we were eating it the same day, so I had to skip the lengthy marinade, and just carried on as it is written, stirring the onions and garlic together after browning the pork.  Everything went into the oven and it wasn’t long before the most magical aroma was filling the house.  We then carted it off, with the bread, to enjoy at our friend’s house with a bonfire.

Cheesy Zucchini Herb Loaf

I love the way the herbs stay fresh and green, and the cheesy tender dough is delicious.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 6

Cheesy, crispy on the crust and so tender inside.  You are going to want to try this one out!

  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 4 cups flour
  • 6 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cubed cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup herbs, chopped finely (today I used parsley, chives, oregano and basil)
  • 1 tsp salt

Toss together, and set aside.

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh herbs
  • 2 cups milk

Whisk together.

Pour wet ingredients into flour/zucchini mixture and mix together lightly.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  That leads to tougher dough.

Pour into parchment lined loaf pans.

Sprinkle a little flake salt over top.

Bake at 350 for 45 – 60 minutes.  Start testing at 45, and as soon as the tester comes out clean remove from the oven.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 1

The herbs are vibrant, the eggs are free run and the flavour is out of the park!

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 2

Once you have everything ready, the final assembly is pretty quick!

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 3

Using parchment means it is easy to lift out, and helps to get such a crispy exterior.                         This recipe makes two loaves.

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 4

Cheesy zucchini herb loaf 5

Golden crust, with craggy cheesy bits and Maldon sea salt adding a bit of crunch on the top.

 

Rosemary Focaccia Bread

 

Rosemary Focaccia 2

Crackly crust, soft and delicate inside, this focaccia is amazing, but even more so considering how quickly it comes together.

I love my own focaccia bread recipe …. but it takes a few hours to complete.  Tonight I was planning on making a sun dried tomato pasta with chicken and spinach, and had the brilliant idea of making a focaccia to go with it …. so I typed in quick focaccia, and this came up.  What a stroke of luck for us!  Thanks go directly to “flavour the moments” for this recipe.  Head’s up … it makes a very small loaf – just enough for two people.  Of course I looked at that, and thought it wasn’t enough for 2, so I did another one.  That’s just the way I roll.  So, now we have leftovers.  That’s perfect.

INGREDIENTS:

  • ¾ cup warm water (heat in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir — it should be just lukewarm)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons yeast (1/4 ounce package such as Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise)
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, divided (plus more for sprinkling the dough)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated parmesan (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried, divided
  • flaky sea salt for topping, optional

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the warm water and sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can use an electric handheld mixer as well). Stir well to combine.
  2. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir just a bit. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Turn the mixer on low speed, and add 1 cup of the flour and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and mix just until combined.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of the fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried and mix until combined.
  5. With the mixer on low, gradually add 1/2 cup of the remaining flour, then add just enough of the remaining 1/4 cup until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl (you may not need it all).
  6. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease a cast iron skillet or 8 – 9″ cake pan with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  7. Lightly flour a surface with flour. Remove the dough and place onto the floured surface and sprinkle the top lightly with flour as well.  Gently shape the dough into a flat disk and place in the prepared skillet.
  8. Gently press the dough evenly in the bottom of the skillet and 1″ up the sides, then cover with a clean towel.
  9. TURN OFF THE OVEN and place the skillet in the oven for 20 minutes to rise.
  10. Remove the skillet from the oven and remove the towel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  11. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, garlic, and remaining rosemary.
  12. Brush the olive oil mixture over the focaccia bread dough, then make indents over the top of the dough with your thumb.
  13. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven, and brush with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt if desired.
  14. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve!
Rosemary focaccia 1

Naturally I looked at the dough, once it came together …. and thought it wasn’t enough.  So I quickly put another loaf together … of course the first one would have been enough so now we have leftovers, which is just perfect.