Coq au vin

March 5, 2012

If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.

—Fernand Point

That quote (which was sent to me by the wonderful Carrie) is all that really needs to be said about coq au vin, which I made for the first time last weekend. Chicken, browned in bacon drippings and then braised in cognac and a bottle of wine, tossed with pearl onions and mushrooms, and served over mashed potatoes.

Julia Child, Ina Garten and Cook’s Illustrated all have recipes for coq au vin, and after extensive comparison, I can tell you that they’re all nearly the same. Julia reminds us to brown the chicken well (this is super important — it adds flavor and keeps your chicken from turning purple when it’s cooking in wine); Ina adds pearl onions; and everyone emphasizes the quality of the wine. (When you’re adding half a cup of wine to your risotto, you can use that $5 bottle of Mirassou that’s been in your fridge for a month. When you’re pouring an entire bottle of wine into a dutch oven and then cooking chicken in that wine for two hours, it’s time to splurge a little. I used a bottle of Zenith pinot that I picked up at Costco for less than $20.)

Did I mention that you get to light it on fire? Go make this.

Banana banana bread

February 27, 2012

Last Thursday, I woke up in the morning wanting to make banana bread. And lo and behold, Twitter informed me that it was national banana bread day. (Yes, apparently this is a thing.) I knew it was meant to be.

I found this banana bread recipe online about ten years ago. It’s one of the first recipes I ever discovered online, and it’s still one of my favorites. I’ve tried a few others but I always come back to this one. Someday, I do plan to make coconut banana bread and peanut butter banana bread… Someday, when I have ground flaxseed meal on hand. Probably not on a Thursday.

This bread is aptly titled banana banana bread; it uses almost twice as many bananas as your run-of-the-mill banana bread. Therein, with its total simplicity, lies its charm. It’s the kind of thing you can throw together on a Thursday afternoon between work and dinner when you’ve run out of freezer space for overripe bananas and you have 16 other things on your to-do list for the evening.

Banana banana bread

Makes one loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups mashed very overripe bananas
3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease 9 x 5 loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine flour, soda and salt.

In separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven for 60-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.

Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Super smoothier

February 13, 2012

Who knew that spinach and beets and bananas could look so pretty together?

For the last few weeks, I’ve been having one of these smoothies every day, either for breakfast or after my workout. On the two days after the stomach flu of death (thanks, California! see you again soon!), this was the only thing I could even think about eating. It’s jam-packed with vitamins and all those raw foods make you feel so good and healthy inside. It’s so good that I attempted to make it in the food processor tonight (note: not recommended) because my immersion blender was dirty and my regular blender died last week.

Someday, I’ll branch out and try another smoothie, like this one. But until then, I’ll be over here, finding out how many other appliances in my kitchen can be turned into smoothie makers.

Spinach, beet, banana and strawberry smoothie

From the PINK Method

1 1/2 cups almond or coconut milk (unsweetened)
half of a small beet
1 banana
a handful of spinach
the juice of half a lime
2 tbsp hemp protein powder
10 frozen strawberries

Add everything except strawberries to the jar of your blender. Pulse a few times to start and then process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the strawberries and process until smooth, about 30 seconds more, using the ice crush function on your blender as needed.