Nutella Banana Bread

March 14, 2018 § Leave a comment

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I go bananas over bananas, but for a household of two, I end up with brown, overripe, or just too much. By now, I’ve found ways to use them. I make pancakes, I freeze for smoothies (my obsession at the moment), and I make banana bread. I’ve got tons of recipes to choose from too.

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So one morning, while the world was fast asleep and I still awake, I looked through my pantry and found a bottle of Nutella staring at me—a gift from Christmas that I didn’t dare open lest I fall into a Nutella binge.   What better way to consume it than to incorporate it with the overripe bananas in the ref and be rewarded with this Nutella Banana Bread.  Recipe here.

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Chocolate and Orange

March 16, 2017 § Leave a comment

Chocolate-and-Orange

A combination that the hubby absolutely adores, and I have, through him, learned to love as well. I’m not exactly a chocolate kind of girl but this union has made me crave it at times.   It’s now my combination of choice when it comes to chocolate. If you’re wary of the fusion, one taste of this will make you a believer.

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The recipe I found was weak in orange flavor, so I added grated orange and orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier, on the frosting.

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And because a quarter has almost past that I’ve been silent on the blog front, here’s the recipe without further ado…

Chocolate Orange Cupcakes (tweaked from a Williams-Sonoma Cake Recipe)

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What You’ll Need:

  • 3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon each baking powder and baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 -2 oranges (depending on the size; I used 1 large orange)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract / essence
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

For the Frosting

  • 6oz. (170g) bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar
  •    2 tablespoons orange liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

What You Do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. In a small bowl, stir the cocoa powder into the hot water until dissolved; set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into a bowl. Grate the zest from the orange into the bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar until well combined. Whisk in the buttermilk and vanilla, then the dissolved cocoa. Whisk in the melted butter, then the dry ingredients.
  4. Using a tablespoon, divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each about half full. Bake until the cupcakes are puffed, and a skewer inserted into the center of one comes out clean 15-20 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Remove the cupcakes from the pan.2013-03-10-11.48.07
  5. To make the frosting, melt the chocolate and let cook to room temperature. Meanwhile, using a stand mixer, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar with the paddle on medium speed until creamy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, orange liqueur, and zest until combined. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch (12mm) star tip with the frosting and pipe a spiral on top of each cupcake. Refrigerate the cupcakes for 30 minutes before serving to set the frosting. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Melting Chocolate

To melt chocolates, chop it into small pieces and put it in a stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a saucepan over but not touching, barely simmering water. Heat until the chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Do not allow any water or steam to come in contact with the chocolate, or it will become stiff and grainy. Or, chop the chocolate into large pieces, place in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave on low for 1 minute. Continue to microwave if necessary, checking every 20 seconds, until the chocolate looks softened, then stir until smooth and liquid.

What to Eat When in Bicol: Sili Ice Cream, Anyone?

September 30, 2016 § Leave a comment

ice-creamCredits: Paper from Splendid Finn’s Now is paper series; Polaroid Frames from Splendid Finn; Happy Day worn ribbon by Trixie Scraps

Sounds strange to some but surely got me interested. And so I found myself in 1st Colonial Grill on Rizal Street in Daraga one evening after dinner with my team.

First of all, I can take the heat and secondly, bold flavors always call out to me. They don’t always appeal to my taste bud but more often than not, I like what I discover.

Such is the case with this Sili (chill pepper) ice cream. You taste the fruitiness of the pepper first then the punch at the end. It comes in 3 heat levels, we chose the middle. Pretty good but unforgettable is Tinutung na Kanin (toasted rice).   A familiar flavour presented in an unusual fashion. The taste (of toasted rice) was very subtle and quite refreshing.  And last but not the least is Salabat (ginger tea). I chose this because… well, you should know me by now. And it did not disappoint.

Other unique flavours also worth trying are Pili nut and Malunggay (mooring). But despite its many unique ice cream flavours, 1st Colonial Grill was first known for its Tinapa Rice and other iconic Bicol dishes.  Yes definitely something to come back for.

Peanut Butter Pie

September 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

This is for peanut butter lovers.

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With cream cheese and whipped cream, this pie is a lighter, creamier version of the spread. So good. Ambrosially addicting, if I may say so myself.

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Browsing through some recipes lately, I came across this peanut butter pie and thought of using up that slightly consumed bottle sitting in the pantry for a while now. I am not a peanut butter fan. I mean, I like it but never top of mind so I often have a bottle lying around untouched for months.

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And besides, I bought a bottle of Almond Butter that’s waiting its turn to be consumed. Yes, I am anal that way.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 (8-inch) graham cracker pie crust (how to make your own)
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 8 oz. whipped cream

 

What You Do:

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Blend in peanut butter and vanilla. Fold in whipped cream.

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Spoon mixture into pie crust. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm.

Easy peasy.

 

Banana Breads and My Everyday

February 19, 2016 § 1 Comment

The first month of the year has passed in a blink of an eye. Gong Xi Fat Choi! Well, it is still February, isn’t it? And since the new year had passed (twice in fact), it’s now time to get serious about 2016. Truth be told, I have not been spending time in the kitchen since the Christmas break. I was traveling and as always with long respite, it was difficult to get back into the grind. With deadlines at work calling, I barely had time to myself. And before I knew it, I was on holidays again — this time, to go with hubby’s cousins and close friends to our choiced Philippine destinations. Not complaining.

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Had a wonderful time showing them around and getting to know them better. But every single time a trip is over, the list of things to do pile up. Have you ever felt the need to recover from a long trip? Man!

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The way I recover is to get back to my everyday ASAP. Well, baking isn’t my everyday but it is a comfort zone so I made Banana bread, an all time favorite. But not just the plain old banana bread but one that’s leveled up.

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I love it because it has all my favorite things. You know me well if you know that I love candied ginger. I love it so much, I always have a pack or two in my kitchen just for anything.  I’m not as much a fan as hubby is of chocolate bars but give it to me in the form of a cake, ice cream or even cookies… can’t resist that.

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So. Imagine me when I came across this recipe from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg.   Of course I had to try it. The result was a moist bread, more like a dense cake, interjected with bits of biting, sweet ginger candy and semi-sweet chocolate.   It’s comfort with a kick. Addictive.

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Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger (Molly Wizenberg of Orangette)

WhatYou’ll Need:

6 tablespoon (80grams) unsalted butter

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

¾ cup unsweetened chocolate chips

¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

2 large eggs

1½ cups mashed bananas (from about 3 large ripe bananas)

¼ cup well-stirred whole milk plain yogurt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

What You do:

  1. Set rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a standard-sized (about 9 by 5 inches) loaf pan with cooking spray or butter.
  2. In a small bowl, microwave the butter until melted. Or, alternatively, put the butter in a heatproof bowl and melt in the preheated oven. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the chocolate chips and crystallized ginger and whisk well to combine. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs with a fork. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, melted butter and vanilla and stir to mix well.. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir gently with a rubber spatula, scraping down the side as needed, until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy, but there should be no unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top.
  5. Bake until the loaf is a deep shade of golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. If the loaf seems to be browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.
  6. Cool that loaf in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Then tip it out onto the rack and let cool.

Enjoy!!  And I hope you had great Valentine’s Day!

When It Rains, It Pours

October 21, 2015 § Leave a comment

Do you sometimes feel like troubles and obstacles are a constant visitor? Yes, it is pouring now. One snag at a time, I tell myself. “Don’t let them stress you out, it’s not worth it,” I convince myself. I take comfort in His words … Cast all your cares upon Him, He cares for you (1Peter 5:7). God is in control, He truly is. Adversities he allows for a reason, many times it is to prove to me that He is in control and that I must not worry. Easily said than done. And to relieve me from worrying, I bake.

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A recipe I grabbed from Gourmet a while back has become a recipe for keeps. This Zucchini Ginger Cupcake is spiced and flavoured with ginger, cinnamon and a touch of orange zest… wouldn’t it call out to you too?

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What’s so marvellous about it is it’s easy and quite healthy as it uses olive oil (I also use virgin coconut oil sometimes) instead of butter and honey instead of sugar. Best of all, this moist cupcake is high up there in the flavor department with or without the cream cheese frosting (the only thing not so healthy, actually).

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Half of these cupcakes ended up with the security people of the building I live in. The maintenance guys, the receptionist, and the security people—they make me feel safe, and cared for, so I show my appreciation by feeding them sometimes. I wonder if they know that they are eating a vegetable cake?

Waiting for Plums

June 22, 2015 § Leave a comment

 

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This is what you make when you have an overflow of plums.   I love stone fruits, and friends and family know that. So when plums (or peaches and cherries) reach our soil, I sometimes end up with too much. When that happens, this cake will most likely end up in my oven.

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A light, moist cake with a citrusy bite that’s great with tea, I served this to friends last year and it was a hit. Not a typical cake in my part of the world and because it was a hit, I thought that you’d like to try something different.

The rains have finally arrived. It was an unbearably hot summer this year and I welcome the downpours. I am still waiting for those plums to reach me but wouldn’t it be nice to stay in on a rainy day and while the time away with a Korean drama series that I’ve become addicted to?

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Plum Cake (adapted from 33 Degrees)

You will need:

  • 2 eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk
  • 140 grams butter softened
  • 140 grams golden castor sugar
  • 140 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 200 grams plums, stoned, half roughly chopped into pieces and the other half cut into wedges.

For the topping:

  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 200 grams golden castor sugar

What You Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160ºC/fan oven 140ºC. Grease and line a 1kg loaf tin.
  2. Lightly beat the eggs, extra egg yolk and the vanilla extract.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy. You want the butter and sugar to lighten considerably for a good cake.
  4. Pour in the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Fold in the flour, baking soda, salt, orange zest, 2 tbsp of the juice and lastly the chopped plums.IMG_6242
  6. Spoon into prepared tin and scatter the plum wedges over the top.IMG_6243
  7. Bake until cake is golden or until an inserted skewer comes out clean, about 45 – 50 minutes.
  8. Let it cool for a few moments before turning out onto a wire rack.
  9. Mix the lemon juice and castor sugar with the remaining orange juice and pour over the cake.

 

A Good Twist

February 18, 2015 § 2 Comments

It has been a while, I know. It’s not that I haven’t been around; it’s just that so many things have come to pass; new turn of events had me traveling here and there, back and forth. It had kept me moving about I haven’t had time to tinker around the kitchen. I miss that. Untitled-4 And with the many changes occurring lately, all I want to make and have are food that comforts, that reminds of childhood. Food that gives me the warm fuzzies. Untitled-1 I used to have a recipe for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, back in the days when I was baking a lot. Then I stopped and lost all my recipes from my youth. Untitled-3 I wish I could claim to have thought to make this because this Brown Butter Pineapple Upside Down Cake is just amazing. The sweet, tangy pineapple and the salty, nutty taste of brown butter took this very classic cake and turned it up a notch. Like my life today, it is a mix of old and new, and me loving the new a lot more that the old.

What to Eat in Cadiz

June 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Freiduria-Las-FloresCredits:  Quickpage created by Roshni Patel.

Occupying a tiny peninsula on the south of Spain with five coastal provinces, Cadiz is blessed with some of the best and freshest fish and shellfish provided daily by the Mediterranean Sea.  Although its cuisine is typical Andalusian in character, subtle influences from the Romans, Phoenicians and the Moors spawned an exquisite regional cuisine with flavors unique to Cadiz.

Yes, the gaditanos (native of Cadiz) are meat lovers too, the pastures of the province keep it supplied with Iberico pork, goat, the local Retinto beef; however fish, fried fish, is the star.

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Dredge in flour (only) and then fried in a large amount of hot olive oil.  So simple yet so ridiculously addicting.  Sea bream, Dover soles, sea bass, cuttlefish, dogfish, and monkfish are usually what is used for this staple.

And the place to have a taste of this fried fish is at Freiduria Las Flores, a traditional fried fish restaurant, almost an institution in Cadiz.

IMG_1643A must try: Cazon en adobo–marinated fried fish usually dogfish or monkfish.

This fry shop serves excellent fried fish without the frills.  Ordered from a counter and served in a cartucho, paper funnels.  And like the dishes it serves, this shop is simple and functional.  Be prepared to wait for a table especially at peak hours.  Most locals order to take away.

I always leave room for dessert and if you are like me, you will love the pasteleria across the Freiduria Las Flores 2 in Calle Brasil.

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Antonia Butron is famous for her savory pastries, but the empanada filled with dates comes highly recommended, and so are their cakes and roscones (sweet bread loaf).

Or how about this delicious dessert common and renowned in this part of Spain?  Tocino del cielo, which means “bacon from heaven”, is so true to its name.

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Traditionally made with the egg yolks that are discarded in the process of making sherry, this rich and creamy egg custard truly is a slice of heaven and a perfect way to end any meal.  Definitely a must have.

Freiduria Las Flores
Plaza de Topete, 4
+34 956 226 112
 
Freiduria Las Flores II
Calle Brasil, 5
+34 956 289 378
 
Obrado Antonia Butron
Plaza Jesus Nazarino, 5, Chiclana
+34 956 401 094
 
Av. Ana de Viya, 16, Cadiz
+34 956 284 260
 

Devastations and Tarte Tatins

December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last month was a month of total devastation in my part of the world,  devastation that is unexpected by many, me included.   The most powerful tropical cyclone of the year hit our shores on November 8.  Super typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, smashed into most of the Visayas and some parts of Luzon in central Philippines, affecting more than 10 million people.

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Survivors stand among debris and ruins of houses destroyed after Super Typhoon Haiyan battered Tacloban city in central Philippines November 10, 2013.  Credits:  Reuter: Erik de Castro 

With winds that clocked in at average strength of 196 mph (314 kph), Yolanda’s rampage left a city and many islands in ruins, a population with no homes, and countless bodies still being found almost a month after.

I am writing this in the safety of my home, 850km away from the disaster zone.  I shuddered at the thought of what it would have been like if it had hit the metropolis and I count my blessings.  I do my best to help in every little way I can – donations, feeding the volunteers, and eventually feeding the survivors that found their way to Manila.  Not enough, if you ask me, but what is enough?

This turn of events has left me heavy-hearted and shaken, and I turned to one thing that always calms me.  I baked.

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I’ve always wanted to make Tarte Tatins – a killer sticky sweet caramel-topped French treat that was originally made with apples.  Many, through the years, have twisted the recipes to use different fruits – pears, bananas, peaches, pineapple – I chose to use guavas.  Guavas are heavenly when preserved in sugar.

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It is one of the easiest to make but likewise one of the hardest.  This tart is made upside down by cooking the fruit in butter and sugar in a heavy-based oven-proof skillet, then topped with pastry before baking.  That’s the easy part.  The hard part is flipping the tart (down side up) without making a mess and burning oneself.

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I used two large guavas, which, I think could use more.  So depending on the size of the guavas, you may choose to use three large guavas.

Guava Tarte Tatin

(recipe adapted from Deb of Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need:

  • 2-3 large Guavas (I used Apple Guavas)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter
  • 1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
  • Puffed pastry, chilled
  • A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes

What You Do:

  1. Peel guavas, cut lengthwise into quarters and core (you don’t want the seeds). Then cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge.
  2. Toss guavas with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes to help release the guava’s juices.making-caramel
  3. Melt butter in an oven-proofed skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining (1 cup) sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes a pale caramel color.
  4. Off the heat, add the guavas to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any more guava wedges left rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.cooking-the-guava
  5. Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the guavas and baste them with the caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your guavas in the center are cooking faster, rotate guavas. The guavas will shrink a bit by the end of the cooking time.
  6. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry over guavas. Tuck it in around the guavas for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  7. Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan) over the pasty and tip over the pastry and guavas at once onto the plate. If any guavas remain in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.
  8. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped crème fraîche, or lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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Tips:

  • Try other variations:  bananas, pears, apples (of course) — although I haven’t tried making any of these yet.
  • If you don’t have an oven-proofed pan, cook the fruit in a heavy based frying pan, then transfer them into a similar sized pie dish and top with pastry before baking.
  • You can cook this one day ahead, keep it in the mold and reheat in a preheated oven at 150°C for 20 minutes but it is best 1 hour after cooking when still warm.

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