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.
I had no idea what a monster I would create when I gave a small jar of starter, and a recipe for sourdough crèpes, to Jay’s mom’s sweetie, Gunars. He adapted the crèpe recipe into that of waffle batter, and for the past year, he has been gracing us with the most heavenly crepes and waffles each morning when we visit. (Update 2/4/14 – four years later, he is still at it.)
No, you are not having a mushroom induced hallucination — well, maybe you are, but you did read that title correctly. Candy caps, or lactarius rubidus, have a strong maple aroma when dried and are often used in pastry making. I first sampled this delicious fungus at Alive, a raw restaurant in the Marina, in a candy cap cheesecake. Now I know that raw, mushroom-flavored cheesecake sounds completely revulsive, but one bite of their ethereal confection bursting with creamy, maple goodness would immediately dissuade you otherwise.