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Archive for May, 2010

Mmmm…banana bread!  My mother’s recipe for banana bread is hands-down, the best banana bread I have ever eaten.  It is banana-y, moist, and fluffy.  I’ve been making this banana bread for years.  I use very ripe bananas – yep, the more black spots on the peel the better.  It makes the bread sweet and moist!   Usually, if I have bananas in the bunch that have gone past the point of no-return (Adam nor I will even attempt to eat the banana raw), I’ll throw them in the freezer knowing that banana bread is on the horizon!  The bananas turn this awful black color when frozen, but if you pull them out of the freezer about an hour or so before making the bread, they are perfect – mushy and sweet.

I visited my sister in Vermont for “Match Day” for her medical school.  She anxiously waited, with her classmates, to find out where she would be working as a resident for the next 4 years.  The anxiety in the room was palpable.  When it was finally done, and my sister got the letter that told her she would be working at her #1 choice, we went to lunch.  My sister chose a place that served breakfast all day & I couldn’t have been happier.  I love breakfast and brunch!  I knew right away what I wanted on the menu – the banana bread french toast with real Vermont maple syrup.  The meal was blow-your-mind good!  I knew I had to make this the next time I made banana bread!

On a lazy Saturday afternoon, I whipped up some banana bread.  Once it was cool, the french toast making began.  I started with a few eggs, a splash or two of milk, whisked them together, dipped the slices of banana bread, and cooked until golden-brown in a hot pan.  Then I sprinkled the slices with a cinnamon-sugar mix, drizzled them with real Vermont maple syrup, and we enjoyed every last bite!

Mom’s Banana Bread
Printable Recipe

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup oatmeal, quick cooking
1 egg beaten
3 TBS melted butter
1/2 cup milk
2 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a loaf pan and set-aside.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk egg, butter, and milk.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and mix until moistened.  Add bananas and nuts and mix to combine.  Transfer batter to the loaf pan, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.  Let cool in pan slightly, then transfer to a wire rack.  Slice and enjoy!

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Paska

Paska is a traditional Easter bread made in Eastern European countries including Poland, Ukraine, and Slovakia.  Christian symbolism is associated with this bread.  My grandmother, mother, and various relatives make this bread each year for Easter.   I have been making it for the last several years. Paska is a sweet bread, and raisins are a good addition if you like raisins.  I do not, and therefore, I do not add them.  Paska is also a hearty, rich bread, but it has this amazing ability to feel light and almost fluffy when toasted.  It is a good complement to kielbasa, or any sandwich.  I prefer mine with butter – lots of butter!   Adam and I love paska!

I remember eating paska at my grandmother’s house when I was a little girl.  My grandmother knew that my family loved it so much, she would usually make it for us when we visited even when it wasn’t Easter.  My grandmother made hers with golden raisins, which I promptly removed with a flick of my butter knife.  My sister and I would take our thick, toasted, butter-slathered paska slices out on to the front porch, and consume them feverishly, licking every trace of butter off of our fingers and then request more.

If you plan on making this paska, please be aware that it will take a better part of your day to make, as it needs to rise twice and bake for 45 minutes.  This recipe makes two paskas.   As you can see from the photo, I use soufflé dishes.  My mother uses two metal dog bowls (she specifically uses for paska making, and no, the dog does not use them).  They are perfect size for the paska!   This recipe is Mary Urim’s Paska.  I do not know who Mary Urim was, nor do I know where my grandmother found this recipe, but I feel I need to give Mary Urim credit – her paska is incredible!

Mary Urim’s Paska
Printable Recipe

9 1/2 – 10 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 package dry yeast
2 cups of milk
3 TBS oil
4 TBS butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten and separated
1 TBS salt

In a bowl, add yeast to 1 cup of lukewarm water and mix.  Let set for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, scald the milk.  Add the sugar, stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, and let cool.

In another bowl, mix 3 eggs, butter, oil, and salt.  Add the yeast mixture, and milk mixture, and whisk to combine.

Add 9 1/2 cups of flour to a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Gradually add the egg/milk/yeast mixture while mixing.  Mix the dough for 10 minutes.  Adding up to 1 to 1 1/2 cups of additional flour.  The dough should pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and not stick.  If it is sticking, gradually add more flour.

Coat a large bowl with oil.  When dough is done mixing, place in bowl and turn to cover all sides of the dough with oil.  Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise to double it’s size.  Approximately 30 minutes.  You may also place the bowl in a warmed oven to speed up the rising process.  After the dough has risen, take it out of the bowl, punch it down a little, and separate into two pieces and form into a ball.  Work with one dough ball at a time.

To make braids (2 braids for each bread):  From each dough ball, cut a piece off to make the braids.  From that piece of dough, cut into two.  Cut those two pieces of dough into 3.  (Now you should have 6 small pieces of dough).  Roll each piece of dough into a rope, and then braid 3 pieces together.  Repeat with remaining dough to create a second braid.

Place reserved dough ball into a well oiled round baking dish.  Place one of the braids over the dough ball in the pan, tucking the ends under the ball.  Place the second braid over the first in a cross, again tucking the ends under the dough ball.  Repeat process with second dough ball.  Let dough rise again until doubled in size – approximately 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Make egg wash – beat 1 egg and 2 TBS water.  When dough has risen to double in size, brush the tops with the egg wash.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden.  Let cool in pan, and then remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and enjoy!

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Dear Blog,

Hello, It’s me, Anne.  Do you remember me?  My poor blog…I have neglected you.  I have not forgotten about you.  It is a classic case of “It’s not you, it’s me”.  Just after Easter, I came down with a cold that kicked my butt.  I was forced to stay in bed for 2 weeks.  I did not cook during that time, nor did I blog about the food I had made previous to falling ill.  Then, after recuperating, I started a new job, that has also kicked my butt.  I have come home tired, and felt completely uninspired in the kitchen.  However, now I am getting used to my new schedule, and feel that it is time to get back in the kitchen, and stop neglecting you, my blog.  Here’s to many more months of consistent blogging!

Sincerely,

Anne

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