A Perfect Day for Banana Bread

A Perfect Day for Banana Bread

Last summer I came across a YONANAS machine that turns frozen bananas into soft-serve ice cream’s next of kin. It was really FUN to work with. But, what truly amazed me was the book that came along with the machine. It has HUNDREDS of recipes for banana ice cream add-ins. Mint chocolate banana ice cream, triple berry banana ice cream, pistachio banana ice cream……

So, when I came back home, after a week-long trip, and saw the over-ripe bananas on the counter, I got inspired to make ice cream, until I remembered that my yonanas machine was not with me. The next best thing? Banana bread, of course! Inspired by my yonanas experience, I decided to kick things up a bit. After I prepared the batter, I poured half of it into the prepared pan. Then I mixed cocoa powder into the remaining half of the batter. I dolloped the chocolate onto the vanilla and swirled the two together. The bread is rich, light and perfect for an after-school treat.

Enjoy yours with a cup o’ Joe in the morning, or with a bowl of yonanas “ice cream” for dessert. It’s all good! And I’ve got pictures to prove it!

Chocolate Swirl Sour Cream Banana Bread

Serves a crowd

60 Minute Cuisine

A wonderful swirl of chocolate in a moist spiced banana bread.  Perfect with a cup of tea!

1 ½ cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ cup butter, room temperature, 1 cup

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

½ cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

¼ cup cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350°. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.

Whisk together the butter and sugar. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the sour cream and vanilla. Whisk in the mushy bananas. Pour the flour on the top. Use a spoon or large whisk to combine all the batter ingredients. Pour half of the batter into a 9 X 9 X 2-inch baking dish that has been coated with vegetable oil spray and dusted with flour. Stir the cocoa powder into the remaining batter. Spoon the chocolate batter on top of the vanilla batter. Use a knife to cut through the batter, swirling the chocolate into the vanilla. Bake until a tester inserted in the middle of the bread comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan and cut into wedges.

 

Mmm…squash! I know just what to stuff it with!

Mmm…squash! I know just what to stuff it with!

They say variety is the spice of life, and I found someone who can offer it to me in spades! One of my favorite farmers here in the North Carolina Mountains is Lee Carlton of Goldenrod Gardens. She epitomizes the country lifestyle with her high spirits, bohemian style and earth-friendly ways. Her flowers are a hit at the market; there’s always a queue at her stall. This is what she looks like, with a link to her lovely farm:

http://www.goldenrodgardens.net/ http://www.goldenrodgardens.net/

Anywho….I’m lucky enough to have her hand-select a few special items for me each week. Recently it was a variety of interesting squash and eggplant.  There were patty pan squash and baseball-shaped cousa, which are pale, speckled green squash – a bit like zucchini but rounder, more tender, sweeter and thinner skinned. These are often used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and are excellent for stuffing. Lee also offered several varieties of eggplant. Narrow and long, Japanese and Chinese eggplant are white, green or purple in color. There were also Indian or baby eggplants. These had thin skin and less seeds, so chopping became a breeze! Here’s a shot of some of nature’s bounty from that day:

I laid out my gifts from Lee, and decided to create a stuffed cousa dish that contained all my favorite things; squash, eggplant, and onions of course; then I added chorizo sausage, white beans and a bit of grated cheddar cheese. Well, it was pretty yummy! Here’s my recipe for you to use as a guideline, the next time you happen upon some new varieties of squash or eggplant.

Stuffed Cousa Squash With Chorizo, White Beans and Cheddar

Serves 4

30 Minute Cuisine

4 cousa squash

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

½ medium eggplant, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup, (substitute with Japanese, Chinese, Indian or baby eggplants)

1 small white or purple spring onion, green top removed, diced, about 1 cup

1 small poblano pepper, veins and seeds removed, diced, about ½ cup

4 ounces fresh chorizo sausage

½ cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed

2 ounces grated cheddar cheese, about ½ cup

Preheat the oven to 350°. Cut the tops off the squash. Use a spoon to remove the inside flesh. Dice the flesh into small pieces and set aside. Place the squash into a baking dish, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with some of the salt and pepper. Bake until the squash is just tender, about 10 minutes.

Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in to a skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the diced squash, eggplants, onion and pepper to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender and begin to turn brown, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Add the chorizo sausage to the veggies. Stir and cook until the chorizo is browned and crumbly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the beans and cheese.

Spoon the filling into the cousa squash. If you have extra filling, just spoon it around the squash… it’s all good! Reduce the heat to 300°. Bake until the squash is completely tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.