Update 12/10/13: Along with the original bacony version, this pumpkin mac and cheese packed with winter vegetables is one of my favorite dishes. I’ve made it many times throughout the years. I always want this dish a bit more saucy, so I’m planning to give it a proper re-post sometime soon using 2 cups of milk, and 1 cup of goat cheese in place of the ricotta. But for now, here are some updated photographs. Cheers!
Do you spend an inordinate amount of time in the winter berating yourself for things you failed to make the past year, and now must wait many months for the ingredients to come into season again? While thumbing through cookbooks on a cold January day, I must avert my eyes from glossy photos of juicy, ripe berries, cherries, and tomatoes lest I feel the pang of regret for the clafoutis I never got around to baking, or the galette that got away. What was I doing when I didn’t put together that panzanella? Why wasn’t I standing in the kitchen, canning all the precious produce that would soon disappear for half a year?
(Yes, I have issues.)
I made these golden quickbreads several weeks ago when I noticed a blackening banana hiding in our cupboard. Too small for a loaf of banana bread, which I felt tired of anyway, I decided to turn it into scones. I’d never had a banana scone before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I mashed the fruit to a pulp and mixed it with some heavy cream for the liquid portion of the recipe. I used brown sugar instead of the usual white, some whole grain flour for nuttiness, added toasted pecans for texture, and, feeling risqué, splashed in a slug of dark rum for added flavor.
As a self-diagnosed hypoglycemic (I’m not a doctor, but I play one on.. my blog?) I have spent many a pretty couple of dollars on energy-type bars. There are some better versions available these days than the Tiger Milk Bars of my childhood, or those weird ‘yogurt’ covered thingies we used to take camping, but I guarantee none will compare to the fresh baked taste of these beauties. Like a cross between your favorite chocolate chip cookie, granola bar and trail mix, they are packed with healthful ingredients to give you a boost any time of day. I’ve tried several different versions of DIY energy type bars; from no-bake varieties held together with nut butters and sticky sweeteners, to soft, cake-like confections. This one meets somewhere in the middle, managing to taste elegantly decadent and heartily healthful all in one tart, sweet, nutty bite.
During a month-long sojourn in Lecce, Italy one summer, my friend and I met a trio of Italian stallion locals. Fabio, Giorgio and Massimo took us under their care, showing us around their favorite beaches, restaurants and bars. Strolling down the road one afternoon, Fabio pointed out his preferred pizzeria. A dashing pizzaiolo greeted us amicably as we looked inside. In an attempt at making conversation, I lamely asked him how the pizza was that evening. With a throaty chuckle, he replied, ‘Grande, grande,’ accompanying the comment with a peculiar gesture. Yanking me outside, Fabio asked if I realized what ‘pizza’ was a euphemism for in the local dialect. Let’s just say I never got to experience any sort of pizza from that pizzaiolo; I was too mortified to ever return.