Breakfast on weekday mornings usually involves coffee on the run. Since breakfast really is my favorite meal of the day I try to make something special for those weekend mornings when we are home and have the time to eat a leisurely meal. Because it is the first meal of the day and I’m not fully functional until the first cup of coffee has kicked it, whatever I make needs to be relatively easy and quick; I don’t do multi bowl recipes first thing in the morning.
This dish, adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, is essentially a giant popover doctored up with chocolate chips and bananas. It reminds me of the German pancakes my mom used to make when I was growing up. For a simpler presentation you can omit the chocolate chips and top the pancake with fresh berries once it comes out of the oven. I’ve used strawberries, blueberries, and peaches when they are in season. When fresh berries aren’t available, bananas work nicely with the addition of coffee liqueur kicking the dish up a notch. Because it is breakfast, after all, I forgo the whipped cream but add it and this pancake could easily be served as dessert at the end of a dinner.
CHOCOLATE CHIP DUTCH BABY WITH COFFEE BANANAS
3/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
2 large firm bananas, sliced into coins
1/2 cup coffee-flavored liqueur (I like Lilly brand)
Whipped cream (if desired)
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet in a 450° oven for 15 minutes.
- Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
- Melt 1 tablespoon butter in preheated pan until browned, swirling to evenly coat pan.
- Add batter; sprinkle evenly with chocolate chips. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until puffed and browned.
- Cut banana halves into coins. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bananas; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Add liqueur; simmer 1 minute.
- Serve with Dutch baby; top with whipped cream if desired.
We’re in the midst of moving and as such, I’ve been cooking down the pantry in recent months. This past weekend I realized just how successful I had been when I faced empty shelves with just a few random cans and jars remaining. Never one to throw things out unnecessarily, I began to wonder what I could do with my last precious jar of peanut butter. As luck would have it my all time favorite food blogger had posted a peanut butter based recipe just the day before. The Yankee Kitchen Ninja, a.k.a. the Ninj had posted a recipe for a peanut butter and banana snack cake that sounded just my speed. I even had two very ripe bananas on hand. But because my pantry is bare and I am hesitant to go shopping, I altered the recipe to include items I had on hand. I think my results are pretty darn tasty. So if you love peanut butter, this is the cake for you!
PEANUT BUTTER & BANANA SNACK CAKE
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas, mashed
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
- Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly coat an 8″ x 8″ square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, white sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- In another large bowl, slightly beat the eggs then add the banana, butter, milk, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir well to combine.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir until combined.
- Fold in the peanut butter.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool for a few minutes in the pan then carefully turn the cake out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Our trip to Paris this past spring inspired me to perfect my crepe making skills. These simple thin pancakes are just as likely to be sold in upscale restaurants and neighborhood cafes as they are from street vendors. They can be sweet or savory, plain or filled with meats, cheeses, jams, chocolate or fruit. I like to think of a crepe as a blank slate on which to build a masterpiece.
Making a proper crepe takes some practice and patience. Pour too much batter into the pan and you end up with a thick and gloppy mess. Too little and the edges are too crisp and they are too fragile to flip without breaking them. A heaping gravy ladle is usually the right amount of batter to fill a 6 inch crepe pan. I pour the batter into the center of the pan then using circular motions to distribute the batter evenly over the bottom of the pan. Work quickly though since the batter begins to set immediately. Use the pan itself to turn the crepes over using a flipping motion. A spatula or a pair of tongs are unnecessary and only cause the crepes to tear. Take some time to practice your technique and soon you will be flipping crepes like a pro.
This recipe makes a lot of crepes so feel free to cut it in half. The first one or two crepes of each batch are usually “throw away” ones for me as I adjust the heat and perfect my technique to plan accordingly.
BROWN SUGAR BANANA CREPES
For the crepes:
1 cup cold water
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree for 1 minutes. Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a large deep bowl and use a stick blender to puree for 1 minute.
- Cover and allow to sit for at least two hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the crepes, pre-heat a 6″ crepe pan over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. When the pan is hot, lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Lift the pan off of the direct heat. Using a small ladle (a gravy ladle is perfect) place a heaping spoonful of batter in the center of the pan and swirl to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the crepe begin to curl and small bubbles form on the top of the crepe.
- Lift the pan off of the heat again and give the pan a firm shake to release the crepe. If it sticks return the pan to the heat again for a few more seconds.
- Gently flip the crepe with the shake of your wrist. Return the pan to the heat and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the pan upside down over a plate to remove the crepe and repeat the process until all of the batter has been used.
Yields 25-30 6 inch crepes (you will have plenty left over)
For the banana filling
2 ripe but firm bananas (the skin should have some brown spots but be mostly yellow)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Cut the bananas in thirds then slice lengthwise. You should get 9 banana slices out of each banana. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the bananas and saute for 2 minutes per side.
- In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sprinkle over the top of the banana-butter mixture and gently stir to combine. Saute for an additional 1 minute.
- To assemble the crepes, place a crepe on a plate. Spoon 2-3 banana pieces onto the center of the crepe and fold in the top and bottom. Gently turn the crepe over so the seam is facing the plate. Repeat the process with each crepe.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
Who doesn’t love banana bread? From a cook’s perspective it is a quick and easy way to use up all of those too ripe bananas. From the dining perspective, there is nothing better than a warm slice of banana bread for breakfast or a snack with a cup of tea or coffee.
This recipe from Cambridge, Massachusetts’ Flour Bakery is indeed easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser. The original recipe calls for the addition of ground cinnamon in the batter. I also add an equal amount of ground nutmeg and have never heard a complaint. This bread has become my go-to bake sale item and I even get special requests to make extra. Whenever I have extra bananas that need to be used up I’ll make a batch of bread in mini loaf pans and keep them in the freezer until needed. They freeze beautifully and will fully defrost when left on the counter overnight.
FLOUR BAKERY’S FAMOUS BANANA BREAD
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped (optional)
1) Position rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 325 F. Butter a 9 x 5 loaf pan.
2) In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.
3) Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat sugar and eggs on medium for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
4) On low, slowly drizzle in oil. Don’t pour it all in at once. You want to pour it in over 1 minute, to keep all the air you just beat into the egg-sugar mixture. Add the mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Continue to mix on low just until combined.
5) Using a spatula, fold in dry ingredients and nuts (if using) just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible and the nuts evenly distributed. Pour into the greased loaf pan and smooth top.
6) Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until golden on top and the center springs back when pressed. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, then pop out of the pan to finish cooling.
The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temp up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped and frozen up to 2 weeks.
Yield: one 9 x 5 loaf or 8 mini loaves